Most people described feeling their problems and worries evaporate and being enveloped by calmness and darkness.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 25, 2022. It has since been updated.
Warning: This story contains themes of suicide that some readers may find distressing
It's the inevitability of death that makes life so precious, but it's also something that scares us. Most people are afraid to die, partly because they don't know what comes next. It's the fear of the unknown that really gets us. Is there an afterlife? Are ghosts real? The famous magician Harry Houdini became obsessed with the afterlife in the hope of reconnecting with his mother, who had passed away from a stroke. It's believed that Houdini had attended many seances but never got a message from his mother. Death and the afterlife have always been a subject of intrigue. The people who have come closest to knowing what that unknown future holds are the ones who were briefly dead before coming back to life. One Reddit user asked about their experience and it's a wild ride. "Redditors who have ‘died’ and been resuscitated, what was your experience? Did you see bright lights? Nothing? Do you remember anything about it?" they asked, sparking many responses.
Here are some of the best replies we came across:
I felt the same as if I had gone to sleep. (I had an alcohol withdrawal-related seizure and woke up in the hospital bed, I was told my heart stopped for 8 seconds) Although the one thing I "remember" is this feeling that the weight of the world lifted off my shoulder. It was such an indescribable feeling, but it was as if everything that I care and/or worried about is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Makes the thought of dying someday less frightening. u/Mululizidrummer
2. Best nap I've ever had
A very warm blackness. Wasn’t cold or scary. Very calm and serene. Best nap I’ve ever had. Five out of five stars, not in a hurry to do it again but certainly not scared to die when the time comes. Now the heart surgery I had after being resuscitated, was painful and awful, so I do not recommend heart failure. Zero out of five stars. u/_addycole
My experience was very similar. The worst was when I was ripped from that comfortable place back to the real world. Felt like I had been thrown into an ice bath. u/solipsisticcompass
My son said he climbed a blue ladder into a boat, but then I came and got him. He’s little though. He drowned and was dead in the pool one morning when I woke up last May. He pulled through by the skin of his teeth and he’s a happy healthy dude. u/RileyTheCoyote
My husband was on life support in a coma, he was not expected to make it and had to be brought back multiple times. I was by his side, beyond distraught. He was by far the "sickest" person in the ICU, too sick to transfer to another hospital. Other people who had family in the ICU rallied around to give me support as it really didn't look hopeful for him and my pain was obvious. A family, in particular, helped me out a lot. The grandpa of that family had surgery gone wrong on his foot, resulting in his foot amputation, followed by an infection and then death. Even after he died, his daughter stayed in the ICU to help me. When my husband finally pulled through and woke up he told me he had been walking the halls with some guy who was missing his foot, who told him it wasn't time to go yet and that his daughter would wait with me till my husband woke up but he had to wake up soon. u/curly_who
My father-in-law was dying from cancer a few years back and was in and out of coherency in the days leading up to his death. At one point, he would say things like “Frank, Frank. What do I do? Oh no, frank.” We didn’t know it at the time, but his brother had committed suicide (his name was Frank). No one knew at the time. He was found a few days later and then we all remembered what my FIL had been saying for the last few days. It was crazy. I'm not sure I believe in an afterlife but this is something I’ve never been able to explain. u/Momonomo10
Just blackness and a really warm and comfortable feeling like if you were being hugged by a bed but I could hear a low muffled sound of people talking. u/Turbulent_squash_301
I’ve read many of the comments here and the one thing that is consistent is the feeling of being warm. This makes me feel so much better when I think of when my mother died back in May. I hope she was comfortable like what’s been said. u/I_need_more_dogs
Warm, dark, and heard my late best friend's voice, kept telling me to keep trying. u/Fluffy_Article_8690
From what I can remember (I was 16), I had a big operation and we did not know I was deadly allergic to morphine. It was the most peaceful "sleep" I have ever had in my entire life, it felt like nothing but somehow something you know? I vividly remember seeing someone resuscitate from another point of view but I could have made that up. Woke up with my dad holding my hand saying you scared the shit out of me. A couple of years later, my dad had the same experience after an operation and the same thing happened to him as me, he woke up (I couldn't be more thankful for saying those words) and after we told him he grabbed my hand and said, "I got you back"
My late step-dad went into ICU on a breathing tube. He was out for two weeks in a medically induced coma. And when he came back to, he talked about the angel that would sit in the corner and watch him. He said at one point he got out of bed and went to the desk to ask what was going on and no one would answer him, nobody even acknowledged him. He said other people were roaming around in their gowns like they were lost too. He said one day the angel in the corner told him to wake up. And he woke up. He died several years later from a heart attack. u/Fragydig529
My brother passed away this past winter after a long battle with rare bone cancer. When he was at the very end, he became very peaceful. When he died in my arms, this little smirk spread across his lips. The only thing that makes me believe maybe whatever comes next is pure and peaceful. u/JAproofrok
This isn't about me but my wife, and she wasn't brought back, but I felt like sharing anyway. My wife died last week. She had been battling cancer for over a year and it was beyond treatment. When she got pneumonia and ended up on a ventilator for almost a week with no real improvement we knew we had to let her go. For a couple of days, she would occasionally open her eyes but they weren't open much, and she would just stare straight ahead like she wasn't really seeing anything. So around 10 minutes or so before she officially passed, she opened her eyes completely and stared straight up towards the ceiling. A few minutes later she closed them again, her breath became slower and slower and finally stopped. I can't speak to what she saw obviously, but she definitely saw something there. I like to think it was something that gave her peace because she finally gave in and let go. u/DerpingtonHerpsworth
My mom did the exact same thing. She passed 1 year ago and she was pretty much unconscious for 3 days before. Cancer. Not even 20 seconds before passing she opened her eyes and looked at reach one of us (my dad, brothers, and I) at her bedside. Wide-eyed. We told her we loved her and she was going to be ok. She saw something and something gave her the push to open her eyes so we could say goodbye. Her eyes relaxed then closed and she took her last breath. It meant so much….but I think it’s left me with a bit of PTSD. Grief is ugly. u/Familiar_local_1254
Not mine but my dad, he had his appendectomy at the highest risk possible, being diabetic, having waited 3 days on an “I just ate something bad” abdominal pain, dehydrated, you name it. He got rushed to the hospital after not being able to walk anymore. He described it as a dark warm calm, like submerging yourself in a warm pool that filled every part of his body till his bones, he said he slowly felt how all his worries were banished. He felt utterly happy but nostalgic, he also said he could hear the voice of the surgeon calling him “return, don’t go” but he felt it was annoying. After a little while, he realized he was dying, so he “grabbed onto life” and said he felt like he was pushed out of the warmness to cold suffering where he felt pain, anxiousness, and a severe nostalgia for what he just experienced. After waking up from anesthesia he cried cause said he really wanted to go, but gripped strongly into life because he’d miss us, their sons. u/Rholicious
I remember feeling the most at peace I have ever felt in my life. I saw colors I could not begin to describe and felt warm. I remember feeling my grandfather's hand in mine and hearing "it's not your time. You need to go back" This was due to a suicide attempt in 2019 where I had jumped off a 3-story parking structure. Not sure how I didn't end up paralyzed but I broke the "best" part of my spine I guess. u/Historical_rabbit
I was put into a coma so it's not the same but it was beautiful. Endless darkness and peace. Just peace. Not even a sense of self. Just an unbelievable feeling of peace and safety. No pain no nothing. Genuinely wish I could go back. u/jobfinished111
So you were consciously experiencing this darkness and peace. Were you able to think? u/pffftyeah
No thoughts. Just feeling. This sounds strange but I don't know if me/ego existed. I cannot express how beautiful it was. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of it. u/jobfinished111
This is really interesting. My grandma told me I had to "get up and leave." I tried explaining that I couldn't see anything and there were voices all around me that I could barely hear but her voice was very strong. After that, I saw her hand coming out of the darkness and touching my face. I woke up in an ambulance with an EMT cleaning blood off my face. u/thingstatgomoo
I've been defibrillated twice out of a tachycardia (when your heart beats extremely fast and doesn't effectively pump blood). Both times I remember being extremely scared and then like the worst impending doom feeling, and then almost like passing out and feeling the calmest ever. I don't remember coming back after being defibbed strangely enough. I had a lot of PTSD from the event and I honestly wonder if my brain just erased that part. u/DigitalAndrew
I was 'killed' in a head-on with a semi. The reality turned to vibration and I was sucked out if they back off my skull. I found myself in a void completely comfortable and at peace and knowing full well I was dead. Went through a bit of a life review where a lot of things flashed through my mind and afterward, I saw the light. In my case however, the light was actually what my eyes were seeing from my slumped-over corpse... I saw my phone on the floor of my truck and had a thought that I wanted to get to the phone to say goodbye to my wife and kids and as I had that thought I was pulled into the light and back into my body. I'm an atheist which makes this whole experience a bit of a mind f*ck for me. I expected nothingness upon death which is exactly what I got but I was still conscious of it which I did not expect. Either way, I've been in pain for 8 years straight now for having pulled through. I'll just embrace death next time. u/Sarpanitu
Not me but my grandfather. He had a heart attack and he said before they shocked him back it was the most peaceful experience of his life. I hope his actual death 20 years later was just as peaceful. u/ayedeeachdee
Honestly, this may be the most comforting Reddit thread I’ve ever read. Dying is just fading into a deep sleep. I love that. I’m a little less afraid and can live a little more fully. Everyone should see this. Thank you. u/Blackwatchdoctor
Exactly this. Every time that I think about death I have a panic attack thinking of all the interpretations that people have of it. To think it could be anything like these wonderful people have said would be nice. u/glomaxx