What happens when we die? No one knows for sure, but there are some of us who have experienced glimpses. People who died briefly before being resuscitated.

In this article, 21 people who have been resuscitated describe what they saw.

If you have a similar story, feel free to share in the comments. Sources are featured on the last page.

21 People Who Have Been Resuscitated Describe What They Saw


I had a near death experience in which I was ejected from an automobile. When I regained consciousness, a man came to me and said everyone survived. The man was there before any paramedics arrived, the craziest part of it all was that looking at that man gave me the most powerful sensation of deja vu ever. Maybe I hit my head too hard, but it was an insane experience, it was as if I have seen that man before.



My dad says he had a classic near death experience several years before I was born. It was from very severe food poisoning. He saw the blinding white light at the end of the tunnel and loved ones who had long since died. There was a barrier between him and them that he really wanted to cross, but they told him to turn back because it was not his time to go.

He says the entire time he felt an indescribable feeling of love and peace and he did not want to leave. I don’t know if what my dad experienced is anything more than a surge of chemicals in the brain as it shuts down, but I trust his feelings are genuine and that he wouldn’t make something like this up. He says it has completely removed his fear of dying.



My mom’s heart stopped during surgery. She said the only thing she remembers is being in a field of flowers.



I attempted suicide a few years ago by hanging myself with an extension cord. I had no pulse when the police arrived but nobody is really sure how long I was up there. I was resuscitated in the ambulance but was in a coma for a little under 2 weeks.

Anyway, all I remember is a feeling similar to general anesthesia once I jumped off the table, but for the 5 seconds before it went black, I was in total panic and had a total change of heart from the confidence in my decision to end it seconds before.

And then it was just… nothing. Like a deep sleep. And when I finally awoke from the coma, it was like finally reaching the surface of pool after diving too deep. I was in the same panic that I was immediately after I jumped from my table. Like I just blinked instead of being knocked out for 2 weeks.

So to answer your question, I don’t remember anything at all. It was like being in a deep, dreamless sleep. Perhaps if I regained consciousness immediately after being resuscitated, I’d remember something more interesting, but yea “nothing” is about all I can offer.



My former football coach had a heart attack on the field and was dead for 15 minutes. We were talking to him and someone finally asked what it was like to be dead, he replied with saying that he remembers a whole lot of nothing. He didn’t have amnesia or anything there was nothing around. He did say it was the most peaceful moment of his life.

Going off this I kinda think its like Inception where you build the world that you inhabit.



When I was 8 I learned how to fix small engines. That being said my dad had an old flat head Briggs and Stratton 5.5hp engine that didn’t work. He also had a riding lawn mower that had no engine nor blades. He gave me the task of getting the engine running I could put it on the riding lawn mower and have fun whenever.

I was Sooo anxious at school the next day. Well, that day I tore apart the motor and had it running by bedtime. The next day we had the thing mounted and riding around.

Flash forward a few weeks, me and my older sister were out riding when my shoelace got caught on the back spindle. It pulled me off and was dragging me. Mind you only going as fast as it would go. My sister stopped and went in reverse which caused her to go right onto me.

The chain and chain wheel caught my lower right back ripping my skin open and pulling my large and small intestine out. Severing my right lung, breaking my spine in 2 places and shredding my right kidney. I felt the thing roll onto me then everything went blank.

Couldn’t see, move, speak or anything. No pain as well. All I remember was the blackness. After my father got my heart beating again I remember laying there in pain. Also remember feeling my back and short of breath. I felt what I still believe as my stomach in my hand while I was feeling my back.

Once I was in the ambulance everything went blank except this time I saw myself laying there and the medics shocking me. I felt a hard pull and I was back in myself. Few minutes later I was on a table with strangers in white all around me.

I remember them in a panic then standing next to my grandmother who passed when I was 3. She told me she was my Nana. we were there watching them jolt my heart with tiny round paddles. she kept telling me it was ok. They called my death time at 6:06 pm. Then all of a sudden I wake up and I’m all fixed and stapled up.

My parents told me i had died 3 times. The first for 5 minutes. The second was a little more than 12 min. But the last time was astonishing to the doctors. My heart stopped beating for 20 minute. My parents made them continue jolting my heart. They told me the Dr kept telling them that I was going to have a 98% chance of being brain dead.

I’m 25 years old and am healthy as ever. I’m fully capable of walking as well. Thanks for reading.



I was stabbed in the stomach with a fillet knife by my schizophrenic uncle when I was 15 years old.

I remember freaking out, lying on the floor hyperventilating while I was bleeding out, I had tried to crawl up from my basement to phone 911 but I was so weak and every time I moved I started bleeding harder.

I remember passing out and having the sensation like I was leaving a dark room and moving outside into the sun. I stopped panicking and this feeling of pure contentment settled over me. I was floating over a garden where all of the plants were giving off light, and I could see a huge amorphous shape above me that was made up of every colour in existence including colours I have never seen before and couldn’t possibly describe.

The shape seemed familiar like I was a part of it, and it was beckoning to me and filling me with pure ecstasy and understanding as I looked at it. Then a man who looked an awful lot like Dream from the Sandman comics (which I was obsessed with at the time) walked over to me through the garden and told me that I couldn’t go home yet, that it wasn’t time.

I started weeping but I was filled with a feeling of understanding, like I knew that I had to go back despite not wanting to, the man had tears streaming down his face and he took my hand and led me back to my body which was in an ambulance (my older brother had found me and called 911)

4 Years later I experienced a kind of weak flashback/replay of the feeling I had while looking at the giant shape in the sky while I was on psilocybin mushrooms. It felt like I was intimately connected to every aspect of the universe, and that all things that could be known were understood intuitively in that state, like an all encompassing answer to some divine question, but I couldn’t put it in to words or symbols of any sort.

It was all so obvious in that moment, I felt omniscient and omnipresent. But it was a shadow of the feeling I had during me near death experience.

I didn’t have any religion in my upbringing, and I have never been inclined to believe in any sort of organized spirituality, but those two experiences were so vivid and otherworldly that they have convinced me that there are dimensions to existence that are beyond our current ability to grasp in a tangible, scientific way. It felt like I had pressed my face up against some sort of veil and looked through a pinhole at something beyond imagining.

People have told me that it was all just the simple product of brain chemistry and that there is nothing spooky about my experience, But I honestly have trouble taking them seriously because none of them had actually experienced anything like it.

I challenge anyone to have an experience like this and not come away highly skeptical about our current scientific world view.

There seems to be this undercurrent of feeling among some that we are rapidly approaching a comprehensive and objective view of reality, that science is in its twilight years and we are just tying up some loose ends, but my experience has led me to believe that the cosmos is much more mysterious than anyone but the most original thinkers are giving it credit for.



My aunt had an experience like this wen she was 18. She always suffered of chronicle seizures that made her pass out. One day, she had one while no was around, she was later found by my grandmother. The doctors luckily arrived in time to resuscitated her.

She explained that she was in brightest most peaceful hallway. She wandered aimlessly through it, until she found a massive door closed on one end. She told my grandmother that she tried as hard as she could to open the door. Tapping, slamming, even kicking it would not allowed the doors to break free.

She looked back to see the back of the corridor gone, replaced with an emergency room. She was lying on stretcher while multiple nurses/doctor where frantically working to revive her. She gave up on the door, turn around and led for the surgery room. She inevitably reached the room, and entered her body.

She passed away at the age of 42, about nine months ago. Heart failure after multiple seizures. She left behind two young daughter and a husband. We like to think that the doors opened for her.



It was weird. I left my body and moved up through the ceiling in the ICU. I moved through some walls and then back down, under my body and reentered myself from below. When I wasn’t looking at anything in the hospital I could also see a large, dark/black space with slivers of pulsing color that seemed to be on the edges of shapes.

So I could see the hospital and also this dark “world” at the same time. Dunno if I was hallucinating or not.



Growing up, my father used to tell me of an experience he had while having open heart surgery. The doctors had to stop his heart for about 20 or 30 minutes while they inserted a mechanical valve into his heart. At the time, he was in his early 20s and was involved in a lot of bad activity that he says he is ashamed of now.

Anyway, while my dad was “dead” he said he was in a very dark place and as he wandered around, he started running into very scary people who were deformed and screaming at him. He ran for his life into a corner and hid. And just before the people got to him, he looked up and saw his deceased grandmother reach her hand down and grab him. The next thing my dad remembered, he was back in the hospital. He’s convinced he was temporarily in hell.

I don’t know if this was just a dream state or something but I’ve never seen my dad so convinced in his life. It was enough for him to turn his life around and turn to religion and more importantly, come back to his family that he had left behind.



Not me, but a friend of mine overdosed one day while doing some stuff with his friend. The friend hadn’t done anything yet so he wasn’t imagining all of the signs of death on this guy (no pulse, cold skin, blue lips).

My friend told me that those few minutes he was considered dead he saw nothing but white. Everything around him was bright white and in the distance was a dark shadowed tree. He then saw a woman, also dark and shadowed, so he wasn’t able to see her face. But her presence made him happy.

She held out her hand to him and for a while he debated whether or not he should go with her. He decided not to and she simply walked away. Then he woke up again.

Before that event he defined himself as catholic but was never really religious. Afterwards he turned his life around and started devoting himself to helping others.



When I was twelve I drowned in the gulf of Mexico. I was out pretty far from my family and the current picked up into a rip. I had always been a very strong swimmer and I knew what to do: swim parallel. On this occasion I wore myself out and started to sink beneath the water. I remember struggling to breathe.

Then, I took a big breath of water and everything stopped. The only way I can describe it is by saying it was being at Zero. I wasn’t scared or excited. I was just Zero. I was looking through the water and I blacked out.

During that time, my mother was swimming out to me (she’d been a surfer all her life) and pulled me to shore and gave me CPR until I coughed up water.

There was something eerily comforting about being at Zero.



My friend went hiking with his family and he fell a few feet off a cliff they were climbing and he hit the back of his head on a rock. They called an ambulance and when they finally arrived to the hospital he was pronounced dead. He had no heartbeat or any brain waves.

They were already unplugging everything and moving on with all the paperwork when he suddenly woke up the nurse screamed “he’s awake!” and then chaos ensued all over again. He was dead for about 7 minutes and he says the entire time he was laying down fully conscious in a really dark room. (he calls it a room but doesn’t really know).

He said he couldn’t tell how long it was but that suddenly he heard a sound like if someone snapped their fingers next to his ear and then he woke up in the hospital. The experience didn’t make him religious either.



I saw a field, with trees on both sides. I could see water, I felt like there was an ocean on one side of the path. If you can imagine the fields that electrical lines go through…where there is no residents and they just clear the area for the power lines …it was like that.

There was a tree in the middle and a well worn path around it. I was walking the path…it looked like an oak tree…it was very large, and presence came to walk with me. I told it that I was ill and that this seemed like a nice place. The entity (I’m non religious so I don’t know what it “was”) told me that I was not done and that I should return. That I would be happy one day.

It was so peaceful, beautiful, but the forest seemed…dark and scary. The tree’s on both sides seemed a place I did not want to go, I only wanted to go toward the water. Then I saw a bright light and I woke up in the ICU. I hope this doesn’t turn into some kind of religious debate or some kind of medical versus spirituality thing. This was my experience. Take it as that.



Can I speak for my Godfather here? He went into heart surgery to have a triple bypass done and died on the operating table (classic flat-line, like you see in the movies). He told us that he went into the next life twice; and both times he was given the choice to either stay with the living, or come to heaven.

Both times, he said “I’ll stay”. Once he got back, whenever he told the story, he insisted that it was very very real. It wasn’t his brain dying, he really went somewhere. He lived for about 30 years after that.



Many others on this thread have voiced similar occurrences and from my studies in transcendental psychology (NDE and the like) it is documented that there are commonalities that are documented from such experiences so there is a lot of truth to be taken from these accounts. The following is my own.

Just before my 18th birthday during the summer after graduating HS I was tearing around on a 3 wheeler with friends. This old trike was not cared for by the owners but I didn’t know that so I was doing my best to whiz around just as fast as the newer quads I was riding with. I broke off from the group and ended up hitting a slight bump and forcing the pins holding the front axle to the frame to shear in two thus rendering the trike into two entirely separate pieces.

The image in your mind may now be me with my ass falling behind on the main portion of the trike whilst my front (still grasping to the handlebars in disbelief) is falling forward causing a rift in my seating position. The handlebars bounced up and struck just below my voice box effectively internally severing my trachea.

I fell to the ground and was promptly run over by the back half of the trike (which broke my leg and ended up being the boring part of the story). In shock I stood and tried to call for help but as those of you paying attention may have surmised I was unable to force air past my voice box due to the crushed\severed windpipe and I eventually fell over into a more or less fetal position. When they found me and gathered around while waiting to paramedics to arrive (a 15 min chopper flight) I accepted my fate. I was about to die.

I told those friends and family around me that I loved them and my time had come, goodbye.

Once paramedics arrived I described to them that my collarbone had broken and went through my windpipe and out the back of my neck (even though there was no external injury). They being paramedics did what they were trained to do and got me on a stretcher and used a BVM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bag_valve_mask) in an attempt to get oxygenated air into my body. This failed as they did not have any inkling that the air had no guidance system and simply filled up my body cavity. Eventually I was on a helicopter and then I passed out.

From here there are two stories to tell – the one that I experienced, and the one that occurred through other’s experiences. My own first.

I died.

As I was fading I had the realization that death was imminent and thought “Aren’t I supposed to see a tunnel and light and all that nonsense” then it happened. I saw the tunnel and light. Only after I made the realization of what was occurring and connected it to our culturally normative thoughts behind what happens at the time of death did I see that ‘tunnel’. This has lead me to recognize how ingrained cultural beliefs are and how far they can be from reality.

Memory fades but this has lasted vividly for many years since it’s occurrence. As has been mentioned, the feeling of complete oneness with all of existence was my main perception. That the self is not me or I but rather one as many or all as one. There is actually a Family Guy sketch where they are stuck in Purgatory that gives a decent visual example – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OC7RB6pxX0) and it is simply white nothingness. Except not nothingness but simply an all encompassing light. That was it for me. There was no concept of time or space, just existence along with the whole of everything including the number 42.

What happened in the living world was this:

The chopper took me towards a large urban medical center (45 min flight) but when the technicians realized I wouldn’t make it that far they turned around and went to the small local hospital. There a team of surgeons couldn’t figure out what was wrong so one bright young lad went a decided in order to save my life which was quickly drifting away (at this point my blood oxygen count was well below normal and brain death was a real possibility) decided to slice open my chest and figure it out.

There they found a mess of torn trachea and did a quick fix by sticking a tube in and shipping me off to a different medical center where I spent the next six hours in intensive surgery with a team of doctors who were prepared to break my chest and ribs to get at my collapsed trach which would inevitably recoil behind my heart (as the trachea is like a stretched spring inside your chest). Drainage tubes for my lungs were installed (which I still proudly show as “jesus scars”) as were a host of balloons to keep my lungs and trachea from collapsing.

I spent a week in a coma and another so doped up that I saw golden retrievers dancing with purple hippos in the ICU. It was an exciting and terrifying hospital stay for the next 30 days.

Since my family was told I died, would be brain damaged, may be a vegetable, etc. while I was asleep you can understand there were (and still are) some strong feelings regarding the incident. However when I was told I would need a tube in my neck to breathe the rest of my life and therefore would not be able to swim again – I promptly said “fuck that shit” and made up my mind to recuperate.

Although I was still high enough to wonder why I couldn’t just swim backstroke and keep the tube out of the water……. Within 12 months I was competing in college nationals and now race Ironmans always showing off my scars.



My sister was shot while she was walking her dogs in our small town in Alaska. The bullet ricocheted around piercing her bowel in 9 places. Even though we had one of the best Rhode’s Scholar docs in the north at our ER and the only flight out of town was miraculously minutes away from takeoff and held up to fly her to Anchorage, she bled out and died on the operating room table. She knows because she vividly remembers everything the surgeons said as she lay dead on the table.

What she told me later is remarkable: She recalls drifting up and into a very bright light. She was no longer in pain, and felt compelled to travel into the brilliance. It lead to an amazing river. Seriously, the look on her face when she describes this place helps me realize that radiant, endless joy is not just a possibility but an eventuality. She describes playing in a river that consisted of pure knowledge. Anything she ever wanted to know was at her fingertips.

As she played in this amazing river she could sense figures on the distant shore. They were our people, she explained. Our family. Our animals. All waiting patiently for her to finish playing in the river and wade towards them on the shore. Though she was not ready to leave the marvelous river, she knew without being told that they would wait patiently and joyfully.

But she never made it to the shore. As she was playing an amazing thing happened. Seriously, people, if you could see the look on her face when she describes this next part you would laugh for pure joy. A being approached her. She did not know what it was except to describe it as pure, unconditional, ebullient LOVE. It radiated love. It pulsed love. And ALL THINGS diminished before the radiance of that love.

The next part makes me chuckle a bit even though that seems out of place. She said it spoke to her and said that she had to go back, that it wasn’t her time. She said, like a little kid, “But I don’t want to.” When she recounts this experience she emphasizes that to be in proximity of that being is ALL THERE IS. She describes it as a completion. A peace. A welcoming. To leave was incomprehensible.

But to decline was also incomprehensible. She felt infused with a purpose. Very, very, very reluctantly she returned to life. She is amazing. They patched her femoral artery and explained that the graft would eventually give. In all probability she will die within minutes. Living with that sword of Damocles should be terrifying. No. To her it’s a promise that she will get to return. Life is what we are here to do, she explains, but after…..sweet, benevolent, all encompassing love.

With every single breath my sister is heartbeats from death, and I have never met anyone who is more alive. Fearless.



My mom’s root canal got infected and she died for 5 minutes. She said she saw a river or a darkness like a river and on the other side was just others. She didn’t describe what they looked like, but she knew it was others like her somehow. Then from behind someone touched her should and said “it’s not time yet”. Then she woke up and WOULD NOT STOP asking who just touched her shoulder. The doctors were all confused and kept saying no one touched your shoulder, you were just dead.

She became born again Christian after that and is a firm believer in Christ.

For some perspective, I am full blown atheist. I believe that what she told me is what she truly believes, but I can’t say i believe that what she perceived is an afterlife. The mind sends out all types of chemicals when you’re in a situation like that and it could have been any number of things. But she definitely thinks it was some version of the Christian afterlife.



So this will almost certainly be buried, but I almost died by drowning when I was nine. I remember a vision of a old growth forest and I can still picture it in my mind and just how green it was.



A man came and spoke to one of my classes this semester about his near death experience and it gave me great comfort so I wanted to share it here. He was kayaking with a friend and ended up flipping his and being sucked under by the current.

He was sucked into a pipe under water and struggled to get out, almost made it, and was sucked back in. He passed out and his friend saw his lifeless body being tossed down the river.

This is how he described his experience in the moments he was unconscious: He was in a dark place almost like a cave only the walls were soft and velvety. At the end of this cave was a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. He made it sound similar to a stain glass window. And on the other side of this colored glass dark figures were passing by.

He said that all sense of time was lost and it felt like his wife and kids would come join him at any minute. He said it was the most comforting and peaceful feeling he has ever experienced. He said that he had the strong sense that God wanted him and everyone there so badly. And that you must have to do something pretty terrible to go to Hell because he wasn’t the greatest of guys before this.

His friend was able to catch up to his body and revive him and he said now he feels a stronger connection with everyone and is grateful to have had this experience. Hope this was calming to some of you like it was to me. Some of the posts on here are pretty scary.



I know that this is going to be buried, but here goes: I kicked it, then came back. The how does not matter, but what does is what I saw in the interim. As cliche as it may seem, I saw a brilliant light, and walked into it.

Inside, I saw my childhood home and my recently departed grandmother. We talked awhile and then she asked me a question that hit me like a ton of bricks: “are you doing something that matters with your life?”.

When I was resuscitated, I came back in an abject panic, but the most pressing thing that was in my mind was the realization that if I had died at that moment, I would have left the world worse off for having me in it. Back then I was a pretty shitty person to a lot of people and caused much more harm than good. After this, I decided to change who I was and make life a little kinder. I now work as counselor working with traumatized children who have experienced abuse, and I have never been happier.

I guess I just needed to die to be reborn.

To answer the religion question: I am still an atheist. I had a powerful experience and can’t really explain it, but if I focused on that, I would be wasting my time on daydreams instead of doing what matters: trying to leave the world a little better than when I found it.