As conscious and living creatures, fear is an inescapable part of our experience. Even the most stoic and boldest of people have something that makes their hearts pound. Whether it’s feeling anxiety before a plane flight or unease at the idea of growing old, we are all scared of something. One thing that binds us all together is the inevitable fact that we will all one day be dead. The alarming thing is, we never know when it’s going to happen, or in what way it will happen. All we know is that one day our hearts will stop beating – for eternity. Because death is a permanent state which we cannot reverse or somehow find a way out of, no one can ever say for sure what it’s like to be dead. No one can verify for those of us who are still alive whether or not there is some kind of afterlife; whether or not we have a soul, or if our brain capacity just fades into nothingness. However, while we cannot say for sure what it’s like to be fully deceased, there are some people in this world who have firsthand experience of what it is like to die. How is this possible you ask? Well, it’s because of a little phenomenon called near-death experience. And perhaps you yourself know someone who has had a brush with death – it’s probably not as uncommon as you think. So, what is it like to die? Does it conform with the age old stereotype of life flashing before your eyes? Is it painful? Is it like slowly fading into nothingness? Well, luckily with the internet, stories of near-death experiences are easily shared with the rest of us mere mortals. Recently on the popular question-and-answer site Quora, a thread was started for the sole purpose of allowing those who had been spine-chillingly close to death to share their experiences. Bear in mind that some of these people had even been pronounced dead by paramedics, and so they know what they’re talking about.
According to Quora user, Christopher, he was no more than 30 seconds away from death. But reassuringly, he wasn’t alarmed by the prospect of nearing the end. He claims it was a very calming and tranquil experience. Like Christopher, at some point in the process of dying, Kiara became reconciled to her fate. Unfortunately, rather than feel peace, she felt a deep sense of loneliness and emptiness. When Lucia nearly died, she came to the realization, that it’s actually nowhere near as frightening as it is made out to be in popular culture. She even describes it as being “drawn towards the light”. Quora user Austin also chimed in with the discussion, repeating this theme of peacefulness and acceptance of an untimely death. This next Quora user refers to his brush with death as an “escape” from an incident that could have been fatal. This Quora user’s heart stopped and she felt complete nothingness, as though she had gone into a deep sleep. According to James, there is “nothing to fear at all”, but did very eerily mention that he had seen “visions” and that they felt very “real”. If you have learned anything from these very candid stories of near-death experiences, hopefully it’s that you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to the actual process of dying. Of course the mere thought that we will all one day cease to exist is pretty damn terrifying. However, we can definitely find solace in the fact that death and dying is a shared and universal experience. Learn more about what it’s like to be seconds away from complete mortality from the story of a driver who was very nearly killed by an oncoming truck.