What It Is Like to Die

Over time mysteries of man have been unraveled. There is nothing that we know of that we have not figured out, or are not figuring out. We are able to clone humans, we know how the body works, and we know how the solar system works. However, there is one question that remains, and has always, throughout history, remained unanswered: What is it like to die? We use different examples to explain the phenomenon of “dying” to our children and friends. We tell them that it is like sleeping, or maybe like forgetting (Moody 12).

When we really think about it, sleeping is only enjoyable because we wake up the next morning, and when we forget, it's not only bad things that we would forget, but also all the good things. Fact is that we don't really know a lot about death, and therefore aren't able to explain it to anyone either. It is also unlikely that we will ever be able to scientifically prove what it is like to die, since it is just like trying to prove that a certain dream is true! However there is a way that we are able to figure out a tiny glimpse about death.

There are approximately thirteen to fourteen million people in the United States, (2% of the population) and at least fifteen million more around the world that have had an experience defined as a “near-death experience” (William question 1).

A NDE is the experience of dying (when one's heart beat stops) or coming close to death (when one falls into a coma); the subject is not well known because people are afraid of death and do not like to speak about it, yet NDEs are real, and tell us about life after death as well as about life itself.

During many NDE experiences fascinating and extremely interesting elements occur, however, not all of the people that were either clinically dead or in a coma will have had the same experience, and no one knows why. This phenomenon is probably the most mysterious thing someone can experience, since it is literally the experience of dying. These people have actually had a glimpse of what happens after we die. The fascinating thing about this is that the elements of parts of these people's experiences are similar and correspond (Moody 21).

There is no one experience that has an element that is not found twice, however, there are no two experiences that are exactly the same, but every experience is unique (Moody 23).

The astonishing thing about this is that the people that recount these experiences are not always from the same race, nor social or material background, but are often from totally different cultures. Someone coming from the United States, someone from Africa, and someone from India, will recount the same basic elements that are usually found in each of their NDEs. However, the explanation of various people depends upon their cultural and ethnic background, their vocabulary, and the way they were confronted with death (The Near-Death Experience paragraph 3).

NDE experiences are most probably proof that life after death exists. There are eleven major similarities among NDEs, and even though people often experience similar elements, they will never experience all of them, but on average six to seven (Moody 24).

Many people describe extremely pleasant feelings and sensations during the early stages of their NDEs. They describe feelings such as peace, extreme comfort, ease, relaxation, and solitude. There is also always an extreme contrast described between the pain and burdens before one's death and after.

A man who had died, after suffering from severe wounds in the Vietnam War, by expressed his feelings by describing a great attitude of relief. He experienced no pain and felt extremely good, despite being in a war zone (Moody 30).

The fact that this man described his relief as an attitude is notable since a woman named Kati Ebrahimzadeh, who I interviewed, also made it very clear that the whole thing is more a feeling and sensation than something you can describe in words (Ebrahimzadeh).

Usually when people are asked to recount their experience, they realize that there are no words to describe ‘such things'.

During the interview with Kati Ebrahimzadeh, I could feel how she suffered immensely from the ineffability of this experience, and how she so longed to explain it to me in full measures but couldn't. She described it to me as if trying to explain to someone how you feel when you are in love, and I realized that it was impossible. People seem to have the feeling that they just don't make such words, and adjectives!

One woman put this very clearly when she said, “It is like having to describe a fourth dimension, but since we only have words for three dimensions I can't really give you a complete picture. That's as close as I can get to it.” (Moody 26).

Numerous people have told of hearing or watching their doctors or other spectators, declare or pronounce them dead. Often they feel like they are another person in the room somewhere, watching the whole thing like a spectator, but being unable to feel anything associated with their own body.

Mrs. Ebrahimzadeh was about twenty-three years old when she fell asleep while driving. Her car went out of control, and flew through the air spinning around so hard, that she was thrown out about fifteen meters high, before she fell to the ground. She was picked up by an ambulance and brought to the hospital. She told me that she will never forget the appearance of the doctors that worked on her. He had a pigment illness, and he had white spots all over (Ebrahimzadeh).

The dark tunnel is another element that is often recalled from a NDE. This dark tunnel is described in many ways, such as being like a cave, a well, an enclosure, a funnel, a vacuum, a void, a sewer, a valley, or a cylinder (Moody 30-31).

A man re-tells a significant story about this dark tunnel, because before this experience, which took place in his childhood, when he got involved in a bicycle accident, he had a fear of the dark.

“I had the feeling that I was moving through a deep, very dark valley. The darkness was so deep and impenetrable that I could see absolutely nothing, but this was the most wonderful, worry-free experience you can imagine.” After this experience he wasn't afraid of the dark anymore (Moody 31).

The existence of light is probably the most common and dominant element in the accounts of NDEs. It is this, which has the most profound effect upon the individual being (Moody 58).

Typically, at its first appearance, the light is dim, but it gets brighter quite rapidly until it reaches an unearthly brilliance. Most people make the specific point that the light, even though of great ‘unearthly' brilliance, does not in any way at all hurt their eyes, or dazzle them. The light is also usually described as being either clear or white (Moody 63).

The love and warmth which ‘emanate' from this light are beyond words.

“It is a light of perfect understanding and perfect love,” states a woman (Moody 63).

People also make it clear that they feel surrounded by the light and accepted in the presence of this being. Mrs. Ebrahimzadeh, who is now thirty years old, describes herself in an ocean of light, and her being a part of it (Ebrahimzadeh).

Astonishingly, many people describe the light as having a personality. People recount it having a sense of humor, and it being fun to be around. A little girl who died in a swimming pool, and who then told about her experience simply said, “You'll see, heaven is fun” (Morse 1).

Maybe this light is just much, much more than just a light!

When one dies, reviews ones are commonly recounted. The review is usually in the form of a ‘movie' which will show some irrelevant and some significant things about one's life. Watching the review is just like being part of it, standing there in the scene as a spectator.

A woman declares that the light plays a great role in this element, since it is often the light that will ask, “what do you have to show me?” and this being of light does not itself need any information, as if it knows all about you (Moody 66).

It may be as if encountering with one's creator.

Meeting others during a NDE is not uncommon, and often has great effect upon the person's being afterwards. The people they meet are either family members or very close friends. These people, in form of spiritual beings, are usually there to either protect or guide the person. It is not always common for the person to be seen, but usually they are more ‘felt'.

One woman who met her family when she died states, “… I felt that they had come to protect or guide me. It was almost as if I was coming home, and they were there to greet or welcome me. All this time, I had the feeling of everything light and beautiful. It was a beautiful and glorious moment” (Moody 55).

Accounts have also been reported where the dead person is guided around by his/her pet, that he/she used to have. The people one encounters with are usually people that played an important role in ones life. The people that were seen could often be described as soul mates. So this shows how only people that we have a special bond with in this life, will we encounter in the next.

In many cases, various unusual sensations are reported to occur at or near death; sometimes they are extremely unpleasant. Often it is a really loud, uncomfortable buzzing noise that rings, or other times it is the experience of intense unpleasant feelings. “I had the feeling of being lonesome… I was completely alone, by myself… I really felt a fit of depression then” (Moody 54).

This could be a form of what many religions call ‘hell'. These experiences seem to be much rarer, but maybe they are just so uncommon because people feel uncomfortable talking about them since they are hell-like and may indicate that the person has lived a bad life.

Often when people die and they ‘leave' their body, they either entirely lose their feelings for their bodies or develop extreme feelings of attachment for it.

“I knew it was my body but I had no feelings for it.” Or, “I felt real bad when I looked at my body and saw how badly it was messed up” (Moody 40).

This could depend on many things. One theory I have is that a person with too strong feelings was too attached to material things, and wasn't spiritually advanced enough to separate from his/her body, and to proceed onwards.

When someone experiences or comes close to death, they often recount having seen their physical bodies, but as if they were another person in the room.

“I watched them reviving me from up there… I saw them below beating on my chest and rubbing my arms and legs, I thought, ‘Why are they going through so much trouble? I'm just fine now,'” stated a women that had been suffering from heart disease and been hospitalized for one year (Moody 36).

“I saw my brother, sitting by me in the ambulance, he was so worried. I wished I could have told him that I was much happier where I was then, but I couldn't” (Ebrahimzadeh).

This proves that there is another form of being apart from just the physical body which could be a soul, or some kind of spiritual being.

The ‘spiritual body' possesses many qualities that we also experience in the physical realm, or maybe just associate with, but there are many, many more qualities than what we are able to do in this physical world. The spiritual body seems to have no limitations, and one feels much more capable with it.

Several weeks before one man died, his good friend Bob was murdered.

“I could see him in my mind and it felt like he was there, but it was strange… he was there but he didn't leave a physical body. It was a clear body, and I could sense every part of it- arms, legs and so on- but I wasn't seeing it physically… I didn't really need to see him with my eyes. I didn't really have eyes, anyway” (Moody 56).

The NDE is the experience of death; however, I believe that it is much more an ‘introduction' to death than the actual life after death. I conclude this from one other element that is common in a lot of NDEs: the border or limit. This border or limit is usually described as either “a door, a fence across a field, some kind of mist, or simply a line” (Moody 73).

For this element I will use more than only one direct quote, since I think that this is probably the most prominent element since it is what separates life and life after death. One astonishing account says:

“In the presence of the light, the thoughts or words came into my mind: ‘Do you want to die?' And I replied that I didn't know since I knew nothing about death. Then the white light said, ‘Come over this line and you will learn.'… As I crossed the line, the most wonderful feelings came over me - feelings of peace, tranquility, a vanishing of all worries” (Moody 75).

This experience shows how life and life after death are separated, and how the experiences people have, are just an inter-phase to life after death.

Here, another man talks about his journey and describes it:

"I looked up and saw a beautiful, polished door, with no knob. Around the edges of the door I could see a really brilliant light, with rays just streaming like everybody was so happy in there, and reeling around, moving around. I looked up and said, ‘Lord, here I am. If you want me, take me.' Boy, he shot me back so fast it felt like I almost lost my breath.” (Moody 77).

These two testimonies clearly show the boundary of life after death and the NDE phase.

In order that any of these people could recount their experiences, they had to come back. The coming back from the ‘world' they were in is often extremely hard and unbearable. It is just like leaving someone you loved.

In the beginning, these people have trouble living in this world after having seen portions of the next. However, the longing to stay in the ‘other' world was also interrupted by the loved ones they might have left behind, especially if they were mothers and had young infants at home (Moody 80).

Since this experience has such great magnitude, it has a great psychological effect on people.

People who had a NDE have come to “love and accept others without the usual attachments and conditions society expects” (Lanning Sec.3 A.).

Their desire seems to be that of universal love (Sec.3 A.).

This is probably since the people themselves have experienced this universal love, and now they want to spread it. The inability to recognize and realize limits, boundaries, and rules is another psychological aftereffect that is common (Sec. 3 B.).

People even feel that wearing watches is uncomfortable, because they feel an extent of timelessness (Sec. 3 C.).

Fears that one might have had before the experience might have vanished, while confusing and misunderstood things become clear (Sec. 4 E.).

Mrs. Ebrahimzadeh, for example, had many questions about death since her father died early in her life. After this experience all her worries and concerns were settled (Ebrahimzadeh).

Also, many people will come to regard themselves as immortal souls currently residing in a mortal form, where the immortal soul travels on to the next life, and the body is left behind (Sec. 3 F.).

Even though these experiences are a great gift and bounty, they can also be confusing and trigger uncomfortable feelings. The most common negative effect of a NDE is being disappointed and angry for having to leave from wherever they were, and great depression at the contrast of life they live here compared to the life they had experienced. They realized how unworthy this material life is, in contrast to what the life they experienced was like. They often think that their experiences are unreal and don't like to talk about them, but think that it is just a fantasy or a dream that they had (Lanning Sec. 5).

The impact of the experience on one's life is the concluding element that draws the ‘lesson' learned from this experience into use. This element is defined and very powerful. When someone who undergoes such an experience comes back to life, his/her attitude towards life entirely changes. They find that they can find less pleasure in material activities, such as shopping, but more and more with things that are related to the soul (Ebrahimzadeh).

The people that had NDEs also get a totally new picture of what death is like! Most of the time they enjoy it so much that they are not even afraid of dying - not a single bit.

“If it were to decide who was to die, between me and my daughter,” stated Kati Ebrahimzadeh, “I would choose me … but with a selfish conscious” (Ebrahimzadeh).

Having looked at all of these elements, it is doubtless that life after death does exist. So if the answer is so close, we should take it, instead of having to live a life of not knowing. Often people are afraid of death and do not talk about it. We never like talking about the end, but if we take this as an answer, then we won't have to be afraid of an end, but instead, we can look forward to a new start.

There is no reason to believe that these experiences are all dreams or fantasies, since it would be very unlikely for more than fifteen million people to have the same dream. The only reason we doubt these things would be because we haven't yet ourselves experienced them. If only 2% of the Earth's population would dream, would they still be believable, or only to those who dream them. It is the same thing with NDEs. They surely give us more factual insight about life after death, than we ever had.

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