Life and Death: Do We Go On? Studies of the Near Death Experience
What Really Happens When We Die?
All living being have one thing in common: the certainty of death. Most of us don't think about it until we are or a loved one is close to death. Religion tells us a beautiful life awaits us if we are good in this life. Hell is for those who don't live life according to God's plan. Buddhists, Pagans and Hindis believe in reincarnation. Some scientists and atheists say there is no proof and there is nothing waiting for us.
In the last few decades, people have become more interested in cases of "Near Death Experiences" and "Out of Body Experiences". There are books on personal experience, celebrities coming forth and television shows on this phenomenom. A new show that has come out on Biography Channel called "I Survived, Beyond and Back", a spin off of "I Survived" has been getting some good ratings in the last few weeks that it's aired. On the show, various people recount their near death experiences and how their experience changed them.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969). She became famous for her "Five Stages of Greif" and proclaims in her book that death does not exist. In her studies, she had sat with dying patients for many years asking questions, taking notes and just listening. She has won many awards for her work and was a highly respected doctor.
On the other side of the fence, there are the skeptics. The afterlife findings to the skeptics are inconclusive. A dying brain is the common reason given for the stories told by people whose hearts were revived after being 'dead' for several minutes. Because the heart is dead, but the brain is still alive, it's difficult to prove that NDEs are real. The images seen could be endorphins working in over-drive to protect the dying person of the pain that is being experienced.
Skpetics have some good points. However, people who claim to have had these experiences do not believe it had anything to do with brain chemicals. They insist what happened to them was real. Most did not want to come back. They say their lives are changed. No longer is death to be feared. In fact they look forward to when their time to come and to be once again surrounded by their loved ones.
People Sharing Their Near Death Experiences
I Survived: Beyond and Back
Celebs Who Have Had NDEs
Celebrities have been much more open in recent years about discussing their experiences openly.
In the late '50s Elizabeth Taylor had died for 15 minutes on an operating table. She saw her deceased husband, Mike Todd. She begged to stay but he told her to go back.
Jane had a severe allergic reaction to penecilin that a doctor injected her with. She recalls floating to the ceiling and begging God to let her live so she could continue raising her children.
Due to an artery in her skull being torn, Stone had stopped breathing. She recalled having seen a bright light and being joined by deceased friends.
After an overdose, he had also seen the light and felt the warmth and love during his NDE.
Eric Estrada had an NDE after a motorcycle accident. He heard beautiful music and saw a tunnel leading to the light.
Sutherland had an NDE in 1979 while ill with meningitis. He remembers floating out of his body and walking in a tunnel toward a glowing light.
Lou Gossett Jr.
His NDE occurred at age 12 and experienced going through a brilliant tunnel of light.
Roberts left his body after a near-fatal car crash. He speaks of his experience on "Celebrity Ghost Stories".
Hagman slipped away during a liver transplant. Although he did not recall seeing a light or people, he had a beautiful feeling of warmth and love.
After multiple heart attacks in 1964, Seller's heart stopped and he was pronounced dead. He saw himself rising from his body and remembers being embraced by a warm and loving light.
After being electrocuted when a stunt went wrong on set, Chase had an NDE. He did not want to return to his body and suffered a severe depression after his experience.
Research is being conducted currently. Back in '09 on The Today Show, Merideth Vierra spoke to Sam Parina. Parnia is the author of the book “What Happens When We Die” and the driving force behind the AWARE (Awareness During Resuscitation) study, which tries to add some medical weight to stories of people who say they were conscious as doctors tried to restart their bodies after death. In his studies, he has shown that between 10 to 20 percent of people who have been brought back to life will remember being conscious when the doctors were working on them.
"A proportion of them (patients) will tell us they were able to see doctors and nurses working on them as if they’re looking from above,” Parnia told Vieira. “When people have died, their brain goes into a flatline state, so consciousness shouldn’t be present. But it could also be that [doctors] did something amazing to get blood into their brains.”
Dr. Parnia and his collegues are looking into the tales of “out-of-body experiences” as well. Currently, no one knows for sure whether OBEs (doctor shorthand) are real or if they are just a trick of the mind to ward off the painful process of the body shutting down.
If this is just a trick of the brain, how does a person who is flatlined recall what is being said and what is being seen on the operating table when s/he is not conscious and physically dead? How does science explain the universal tale of the 'light' that is seen and loved ones who have passed on coming forth to tell the person phrases like 'It isn't your time, you must go back."? Is it really and truly possible that people from all over the world have brains that act the exact same way, see similar things and feel the same sensations of unconditional love when death is present? Is it also fair to dismiss what a person who has come back has to say and what they have gone through?
Most people have a bit, if not a lot of skepticism in them. Most people also want to believe there is something more wonderful that awaits us. It's exciting that research is being conducted and that one of life's greatest mysteries is very close to being solved.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation
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