If we knew what comes after death, would we cling to life or willingly allow ourselves to die?
17% of people who narrowly escaped death while under medical supervision report a near-death experience.
Individuals are considered to be “near death” when they are so physically compromised that death would be imminent if their condition doesn’t improve.
Another compelling question is what forms of physical and possibly “mental” transitions exist between the states we know as life and death?
For the field of resuscitation medicine, a knowledge of such liminal states could lead to effective approaches for delaying death or bringing the newly deceased back to life.
Sam Parnia, an associate Professor of Medicine interviewed a social worker from Southampton, England.
The man gave a shockingly detailed description of his resuscitation while he spent three minutes clinically dead.
The 57 year old was able to describe the exact position of his body, the appearance of the medical staff who were not in the room while he was still conscious, and the use of devices.
“The detailed memories exactly matched the actual events”, says Parnia.
Hospital records verified the man’s descriptions, although he shouldn’t have been able to see what he saw.
“In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three minute period when there was no heartbeat”, says Parnia.
That is paradoxical because the brain typically ceases functioning within 20 to 30 seconds of the heart stopping.
The awareness research is now considered a first step towards clarifying the question of an afterlife but, it’s also a clear reminder that even in the 21st century, death doesn’t lend itself to examination.
Further research will continue but in the end, something unfathomable happens when we die and perhaps, that’s how it should stay.