Seeing a long, dark tunnel with a light coming towards you as you die is actually surprisingly rare, according to a study of more than 1,000 people who ‘died’.Sadly, so is seeing a kindly old man playing a harp on a cloud.
Around half of the patients recalled something from their time in cardiac arrest – but many of these experiences are frightening, or involve memories of real events (from a time when the person is supposedly dead).
The researchers, from the University of Southampton, studied 2,060 patients who had been through cardiac arrest, and then come back.
Dr Sam Parnia said that in one case, researchers were able to verify that a patient had recalled real events after their heart had stopped.
‘I was terrified. I was told I was going to die and the quickest way was to say the last short word I could remember’
‘Being dragged through deep water with a big ring and I hate swimming – it was horrid’
2) Violence and persecution
‘This whole event seemed full of violence and I am not a violent man, it was out of character.’
‘I had to go through a ceremony and … the ceremony was to get burned. There were 4 men with me, whichever lied would die…. I saw men in coffins being buried upright.’
‘This whole event seemed full of violence and I am not a violent man, it was out of character”.
3) Remembering real events after death
‘I experienced a tooth coming out when tube was removed from my mouth”
Several patients remembered real events from the operating theatre after they had ‘died’.
Dr Parnia said: ‘This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions, occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.
4) Deja vu
‘I experienced a sense of De-ja vu and felt like knew what people were going to do before they did it after the arrest. This lasted about 3 days.’
5) Weird visions of animals and plants
‘All plants, no flowers.’
‘Saw lions and tigers”
6) Bright lights
‘The sun was shining’
‘Recalled seeing a golden flash of light’
7) Seeing family or friends
‘Family talking 10 or so. Not being able to talk to them…’