Death: it is the ultimate unknowable. Unless—like these zombies and/or resuscitated people who shared their stories on reddit—you die during surgery or in a car accident and then are miraculously brought back. Whether or not these people were able to accurately remember being dead is debatable (seeing as forming memories is something a living person and brain does), but they’ve died and lived to tell about it, so let’s listen to them.
Warning: Not one person mentioned meeting God or being a zombie.
1. monitormonkey died during surgery and “flipped through a book of snippets” from her life.
I always get nervous about having surgery, but this time I knew something was going to go wrong. It sounds silly but I felt so strongly about it that I wrote a will and left it on my dresser just in case.
Anyway, things go wrong during the surgery and I start to bleed out. Things went even further south and then my heart stopped beating. I found out later that I was dead for several minutes.
Now I don’t know if this was real or a hallucination or a mixture of the two.
I woke up in what looked like space but there wasn’t any stars or light. I wasn’t floating so to speak, I was just there. I wasn’t hot/cold, hungry, tired, just a peaceful neutral kind of thing. I knew there was light and love somewhere nearby but I had no urge or need to go to it right away.
I remember thinking over my life, but it wasn’t like a montage. More like I was idly flipping through a book and snippets stood out here and there.
I don’t remember making a decision to stay or go back, I just woke up in the ICU two days later.
Whatever it was, it changed my thoughts on a few things. I am still afraid to die, but I’m not worried about what happens after that.
2. TheDeadManWalks was 15 years old when he was afflicted with sepsis and an infected colon while undergoing chemo. His body began hemorrhaging blood and he was rushed to a hospital where he “slipped in and out of life.” He beautifully relates his near-death experience to hitting a snooze alarm on life.
The worst part of it all, looking back, is how peaceful it can seem. When I started vomiting blood, I went into shock. Hitting the wall to get my mum's attention was a subconscious thing, the rest of me just … stopped caring. When the doctors were trying to save my life, I just wanted to black out again. I didn’t want the lights to hurt my eyes and the doctors to hurt the rest of me any more, the unconsciousness seemed easier. And that’s how it felt when I was in the ICU for a few weeks after that, doped up on ketamine and slipping in and out of life. Being asleep was easy, being awake meant more pain and less dignity.
So if you want to know what it’s like to be that close to death, it’s tempting. It’s like wanting to hit the snooze button on your alarm at 7:00 A.M. And maybe you do hit it once or twice but then you remember that you have work or school and that sleep can wait because you’ve still got shit to do.
3. Schneidah7 (temporarily) died from a motorcycle accident, and gives hope to anyone who wants to see their loved ones again.
I passed out while cruising along at about 50mph (they still have no concrete idea why) and I was thrown into a light pole. I only have two clear memories of that event. The first is being upside down and wondering idly why the opposite road was passing by inverted. The second is hitting the pole and stopping. It hurt, a lot.
I cannot accurately describe how badly that hurt but suffice it to say I’m a person with a high pain tolerance to begin with and if I had been in my right state of mind I would have wept like a child. I just remember being on the pavement and things slowly going black and quiet, which honestly was a relief because it made the pain feel more distant instead of the crushing immediacy it had before.
The only reason I didn’t fall asleep was a bizarre moment where I heard someone yelling “Ranger up you candy fuck! Come on man, get up. Get up. GET UP!” and then someone slapping my helmet (which was basically smushed really hard onto my head; the faceplate was bent up into my face and a good chunk was more or less shaved off). When I opened my eyes I saw my brother squatting on the pavement next me to. This was odd because my brother has been dead from an OD for several years. I couldn’t really gather the presence of mind to speak so I just looked at him.
4. TheBawlrus went into renal failure, and relates his brush with death to being powered down.
It was like turning off a TV. One second things were working and the next I'm waking up surrounded by doctors and nurses with my feet in the air and a unit of blood being shot into me at high speed.
“Heeeyyyyy budddyyyy … how ya feeling? We uh ... lost you for a minute there.”
5. CDC_ tells us how things could have gone in the movie My Girl if only Macauly Culkin had lived around the corner from a hospital and they were able to bring him back to life.
I got stung by a fucking nest of wasps right next door to my home. They stung me all over my head, neck, behind my ears. Thirty nine stings the doctor counted.
It was insane. I ran away as fast as I could, the nest was on the door of a garage I had just come out of and bumped. I got home and was like… ok… I’m ok. I’m cool. Told my mom I got stung by some bees but I thought I was ok.
She didn’t seem too worried. I decided to go take a shower. I began feeling dizzy and my back started hurting.
I quickly turned the shower off and got my clothes on and began feeling dizzier and dizzier. Then when I came out of the bathroom my mom looked at me and had a look of horror. Told me to get in the car immediately. My face and head had swollen hugely. We lived just around the corner from the hospital, so she just drove me.
Between my house and the hospital I started losing consciousness. Everything I saw had a yellowy tinge and I suddenly felt very heavy and tired. My breathing got very labored, but I sort of of didn’t care. I felt like I was slipping away into sleep.
You know old TVs, when they were turned off the screen would be basically engulfed in black and the light shrank down into a pinpoint before disappearing? My vision slowly started feeling like it was doing that.
I remember arriving at the hospital and they didn’t even bother with registration, they threw my ass on a gurney and started pushing me back. As I was going back I remember closing my eyes and thinking “I guess whatever happens …”
And then nothing. Just like going to sleep when you’re SUPER exhausted. I felt kind of peaceful and wasn’t really thinking about anything much at all and the lights just went out.
Some minutes later I opened my eyes and a very large man was staring at me, smiling and said “Well bad news, you’re gonna feel completely fine within a couple of hours, you probably won’t even get out of going to school tomorrow.”
He was right.
6. Axesta died a little bit as a result of sepsis from a dentist’s tools.
Once arrived at the hospital I was put on the most uncomfortable bed ever and drifted off. I couldn’t stay awake. That’s when I saw nurses and doctors around me injecting me with things and shouting. I remember thinking that it must be serious if a doctor was shouting, as they usually don’t show panic.I was lucid enough to laugh internally thinking “Wow.. I must be really sick if I don’t even freak out over all of these injections”and then it happened, I saw my mom crying and I thought “Holy shit.. this must be for real.”
As soon as I thought that, I fell asleep. I say asleep, but I died for exactly two minutes. It really feels like falling asleep, but ... for me it was beyond peaceful.It felt like you didn’t really have to worry about anything anymore and obviously in my case–I didn’t feel sick anymore.
As someone that was once suicidal–this was actually a horribly dangerous feeling as for the first time I got confirmation that dying wasn’t all that scary.
I woke up seven days later in the hospital. It took me another seven to start eating and they told me that I more than likely got sepsis from infected tools at the dentist.
The scariest part was after that happened–I no longer feared dying. So I consciously try to pull myself out of a depression whenever I feel it coming. But–for whoever is scared that their loved one felt pain in death, I can honestly say–it’s a very peaceful feeling.
And another note for everyone who is using this as an excuse to never go to the dentist, he adds:
I had chosen an out-of-home dentist with a very small practice that wasn’t charging me a lot. I never checked reviews because I’m a cheapskate. Don’t let this scare you! I’ve had dental work since and it all went swimmingly!
7. deag_bullet got a teensy bit killed in a car accident, but is at a loss for how to interpret his experience.
I was in a serious car accident (hit by a drunk driver) a week before my high school graduation. Without going into all the gory details, I lost so much blood that they declared me dead. Although I do not remember much, between the rescue workers extracting me from my car and a tree and waking up three weeks later, I do remember feeling very warm and seeing lights. I’ve always believed it was due to medications and moving between areas with different lighting, but I’m open to otherworldly suggestions.
8. z91x almost drank himself to a peaceful death.
When I was 14 and at a party, I drank way too fucking much. (I was sort of an alcoholic even at that age, due to easy access to alcohol at the time. Also a family full of alcoholics who didn’t give a fuck.) Woke up on the bathroom floor vomiting my guts out, in and out of consciousness. I could faintly hear my brother in the background, calling for an ambulance.
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Woke up in a hospital bed where the doctor said I had been dead for two minutes, but they managed to revive me. My BAC was 0.56.
In my experience, being dead was like being asleep. Absolutely no difference. No flashbacks, no afterlife that I could recall … It was exactly like sleeping. Very peaceful.
He kept drinking after that, but is now 18 months sober.
9. SonOfDavor was a five-year-old who almost drowned in a pool and now sees shimmering visions.
Well, nothing official and I hope this is okay, mostly for the head trip it occasionally gives me: I almost drowned in a pool when I was 5. I remember looking up and seeing my mother dismissing the lifeguard because I was “only playing” and his legs starting to break through the water because he knew better, before blacking out.
There was nothing between that moment and throwing up water after he pulled me out of the pool. Though I can remember with absolute clarity how the water made everything shimmer as I was looking up, and sometimes I see that swimming shimmer as I’m walking around outside or if the light is really bright. And I can’t help but wonder in those moments if my entire life, all my failures, successes, falling in love with a woman and having two children with her, the love of my life cheating on me, if everything for the last 30 years is just all inside my head during the last few moments before I die, still in that pool.
Before we all get whimsical about this guy’s lack of reality, Yerwun responds with some sound logic:
Well, I’m here reading it, so no.
10. minusthelela flat-lined for ten whole minutes in the ER and doesn’t want to die again.
I was 16 years old and encountered tachycardia for the first time. Went to the ER with my mom, not really thinking it was a big deal (hardly any symptoms aside from high heart rate). I didn’t realize how intense the situation was until two cardiologists and several nurses rushed me to what looked like an operating room of sorts.
Again, I didn’t really know the full extent of what was happening, I felt pretty normal and never had a history of heart issues up until then. However, my mom worked in the medical field for several decades and I could see the utter fear and concern on her face.
Fast forward to the doctors trying to slow my heart down but couldn’t. Last resort is some drug that essentially stops your heart and resets it at a normal beat. Right as they’re giving me the drug, they warn me I might feel a heavy weight on my chest.
What a fucking understatement. Felt like someone was bit by bit, squeezing all the air and life out of me. Eventually the room went black and a feeling of peace came over me, like I was going to sleep. I didn’t see anything good or bad, just emptiness.
When I awoke, I assumed only a few seconds had passed. Instead, the drug caused my heart to stop for 10 minutes or so and the doctors were trying to revive me, assuming I was dead given the flat line.
I’m 27 now and two years ago I had a second episode happen. Luckily, when they gave me the drug I didn’t pass out, yet I was forcing myself to stay awake, I didn’t want to die again.
11. Hobojesse wrote in with another dental scenario. This is why no one wants to get their teeth checked, people!
Two months ago I was OD’d on anesthesia in an oral surgeon's office. Coded in the ER and was dead for under a minute, but it counts.
Between me going out and me waking up in the ICU there is nothing. No black void, lost loved ones, messages from the other side. Nothing. Processing it since then, I don’t know if there’s nothingness is comforting or terrifying.
12. 7storiesup died at seven years old during surgery, and it gave him an incredibly bleak view of death.
When I was a kid I needed eye surgery a few times. The last time I, at seven, told the doctor I couldn’t do it today because my asthma was acting up. The doctor ignored me and put under anesthesia regardless. I had an attack, as I fucking knew I would, while under anesthesia and my heart stopped.
I remember the anger at the doctor, and then feeling something soft on my hands upon waking up with absolutely nothing in between. I was blind when I woke up and don’t remember when I regained the sight, maybe a day or two later. It may have also been really thick bandages with my eyes closed, I just remember not being able to see anything thus I latched onto the stuffie my sister or mom handed me. It was like waking up from a deep sleep, the kind you get after a hard day at work in a nice comfy room.
One moment you’re just awake like someone pressed the start button on the controller that is your mind and body.
So, it doesn’t hurt. The heart stopping must’ve hurt and the asthma attack, but actual death is painless. It isn’t scary, though like all humans I do fear it. It also isn’t some magical experience … you’re just sleeping, except sometimes you can wake up from it, like I did, and sometimes you can’t, like my daddy who died when I was a child.
It is sad though cause it’s nothing … life is smelly and loud and busy and interesting and fun and colorful and death, death is absolute nothingness.
13. And finally, there’s calgarykid, who was surrounded by his regrets during their visit to the afterlife.
It was a really bad car accident where I went through the windshield and became trapped between the two vehicles. I was fading in and out and heard the scene get more and more chaotic as EMT’s and cops showed up. Then everything started sounding far away and I felt like I was disappearing. Then I had this montage of regrets (really cliche I know) blast through my mind, right down to not wearing a seatbelt that night. Probably hundreds but only a few really stick out now. Then I “woke up” in the ambulance. Kind of a turning point for me.