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What happens to us after death?
Do we live on? Or does something different happen? - photo by Chakell Wardleigh
Death is unavoidable in life. And if it happens, and has happened to every human being who has ever lived on the earth, then why is the human race so afraid and uncertain when it comes to death?

Could the fear of death be caused by the fact that the only ones who experience it are gone and unable to explain what truly happens? Could it be that no one knows where those who have passed on go? Do they go on to heaven? Do they simply cease to exist?

Religious beliefs

The belief in life after death is present in many cultures and religious sects.

From Christianity, to Buddhism, to Judaism, the belief that the human spirit does not cease to exist is a prominent one.

  • Christians, such as Catholics and Baptists, believe that the spirit and body go through a temporary separation, and at the time or resurrection, the spirit and body will be perfected and reunited.
  • Jews believe in some form of life after death. Whether it means waiting for the coming of the Messiah to be resurrected, or their spirit dwelling in a Christian-like heaven.
  • Islams believe that the spirit lives on when the body passes away and waits to be judged by God.
Despite the differences, these faiths all believe in life after death.

Near-death experiences

There have been countless people who have come forward with their near-death experiences, and many of their experiences are similar. The most common near-death situation on record occurs when patients flat-line while receiving emergency treatment in medical facilities.

Here are some of the most common descriptions of those who have escaped death's clutches:

  • Feeling as if they had left their body and were aware of medical personnel trying to bring them back. Many also describe watching their own body and everyone else who was in the room with them
  • Experiencing powerful and vivid emotions of pure bliss, peace and happiness that is almost indescribable
  • Encountering and following a brilliant light so bright it can hardly be described.
  • A voice or a person telling them it is not their time to pass on yet
  • Meeting or encountering deceased loved ones, either an ancestor or someone who they knew during their lifetime
  • Having every moment and aspect of their life flash before their eyes
  • Enhanced senses, being able to hear, smell and see everything more vividly than ever before
  • Being free of pains and afflictions
  • Beautiful and glorious surroundings
  • A sense of overwhelming love
  • Feelings of security as if they were home
As in any near-death story, those who experience them always tend to have seen the same things or have felt similar, positive sensations.

According to science

Doctors are continuously puzzled when patients who flat-lined and were brought back are able to describe what they witnessed in extensive detail. Some patients explain they had spent a substantial or brief amount of time outside of their body, but either way, the accounts are vividly described.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Southampton studied over 2,000 patients who had suffered from cardiac arrest in hospitals all over the world. They found that 360 of those patients had been resuscitated and 40 percent of them explained they were aware of what was going on and could see their body from elsewhere during the time they were deemed clinically dead.

This idea fascinates physicians because the brain supposedly stops functioning just 20 seconds after the heart stops beating and does not resume activity until cardiac arrest has been resolved. Oftentimes, doctors have no explanation of the phenomenon their fortunate patients experienced, and sometimes the baffled physicians begin to question everything they have always believed about death.

Dr. Eben Alexander, a practicing neurosurgeon from North Carolina, contracted a devastating case of bacterial meningitis in 2008. While he was being treated in a local hospital, he slipped away into a deep coma for more than a week. When he awoke, he began to describe to family members what he had experienced during his unconcious time as "beyond scientific explanation." He explained that he had been transported to the afterlife and had witnessed glorious things.

Despite his claims, Alexander's superivising doctors explained that he must have only hallucinated his experiences because of the extent of his illness, but he knew better. He explained that his experience was "way too real to be unreal."

When Alexander was asked about what the afterlife felt like, he said: It was full of bliss. It was full of that loving, comforting, caressing and cherishing love from the creator. There was nothing to fear, there was no pain and there was nothing that one could do wrong in that realm."

Although he was not a relgious man before this experience, he explained that his experience allowed him to discover and develop a relationship with God.

Whatever the circumstances or beliefs you may have, there are so many fascinating and miraculous moments in life that may or may not ever be explained. But one thing is certain: Human beings do not cease to exist when they die.

Death should not be feared; unfortunately, it is something that comes to us all. Until our time comes, let us take the time to be kind, achieve our dreams, forgive others and live our lives to the fullest. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not feared. True comfort comes from the remarkable knowledge gained from those who have defied all odds and returned from deaths grasp. There is hope, peace and happiness in the fact that we will continue to live on and perhaps see our loved ones again in far greater circumstances after we pass.
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