Updated date:

Life and Death: Do We Go On? Studies of the Near Death Experience

In the Book of Genisis, Jacob has a dream in which he saw a stairway leading to Heaven.  Is this just a story?  Some claim to have seen a beautiful stairway leading to the light.

In the Book of Genisis, Jacob has a dream in which he saw a stairway leading to Heaven. Is this just a story? Some claim to have seen a beautiful stairway leading to the light.

Do All Dogs Really Go To Heaven?  Many people who have had NDEs recall seeing animals pass through the light.   They also claim to have seen beloved pets that have passed on.

Do All Dogs Really Go To Heaven? Many people who have had NDEs recall seeing animals pass through the light. They also claim to have seen beloved pets that have passed on.

What Really Happens When We Die?

All living being have one thing in common: the certainty of death. Most of us don't think about it until we are or a loved one is close to death. Religion tells us a beautiful life awaits us if we are good in this life. Hell is for those who don't live life according to God's plan. Buddhists, Pagans and Hindis believe in reincarnation. Some scientists and atheists say there is no proof and there is nothing waiting for us.

In the last few decades, people have become more interested in cases of "Near Death Experiences" and "Out of Body Experiences". There are books on personal experience, celebrities coming forth and television shows on this phenomenom. A new show that has come out on Biography Channel called "I Survived, Beyond and Back", a spin off of "I Survived" has been getting some good ratings in the last few weeks that it's aired. On the show, various people recount their near death experiences and how their experience changed them.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969). She became famous for her "Five Stages of Greif" and proclaims in her book that death does not exist. In her studies, she had sat with dying patients for many years asking questions, taking notes and just listening. She has won many awards for her work and was a highly respected doctor.

On the other side of the fence, there are the skeptics. The afterlife findings to the skeptics are inconclusive. A dying brain is the common reason given for the stories told by people whose hearts were revived after being 'dead' for several minutes. Because the heart is dead, but the brain is still alive, it's difficult to prove that NDEs are real. The images seen could be endorphins working in over-drive to protect the dying person of the pain that is being experienced.

Skpetics have some good points. However, people who claim to have had these experiences do not believe it had anything to do with brain chemicals. They insist what happened to them was real. Most did not want to come back. They say their lives are changed. No longer is death to be feared. In fact they look forward to when their time to come and to be once again surrounded by their loved ones.


People Sharing Their Near Death Experiences

I Survived: Beyond and Back

Celebs Who Have Had NDEs

Celebrities have been much more open in recent years about discussing their experiences openly.

Elizabeth Taylor

In the late '50s Elizabeth Taylor had died for 15 minutes on an operating table. She saw her deceased husband, Mike Todd. She begged to stay but he told her to go back.

Jane Seymour

Jane had a severe allergic reaction to penecilin that a doctor injected her with. She recalls floating to the ceiling and begging God to let her live so she could continue raising her children.

Sharon Stone

Due to an artery in her skull being torn, Stone had stopped breathing. She recalled having seen a bright light and being joined by deceased friends.

Tony Bennett

After an overdose, he had also seen the light and felt the warmth and love during his NDE.

Eric Estrada

Eric Estrada had an NDE after a motorcycle accident. He heard beautiful music and saw a tunnel leading to the light.

Donald Sutherland

Sutherland had an NDE in 1979 while ill with meningitis. He remembers floating out of his body and walking in a tunnel toward a glowing light.

Lou Gossett Jr.

His NDE occurred at age 12 and experienced going through a brilliant tunnel of light.

Eric Roberts

Roberts left his body after a near-fatal car crash. He speaks of his experience on "Celebrity Ghost Stories".

Larry Hagman

Hagman slipped away during a liver transplant. Although he did not recall seeing a light or people, he had a beautiful feeling of warmth and love.

Peter Sellers

After multiple heart attacks in 1964, Seller's heart stopped and he was pronounced dead. He saw himself rising from his body and remembers being embraced by a warm and loving light.

Chevy Chase

After being electrocuted when a stunt went wrong on set, Chase had an NDE. He did not want to return to his body and suffered a severe depression after his experience.

Scientific Research

Research is being conducted currently. Back in '09 on The Today Show, Merideth Vierra spoke to Sam Parina. Parnia is the author of the book “What Happens When We Die” and the driving force behind the AWARE (Awareness During Resuscitation) study, which tries to add some medical weight to stories of people who say they were conscious as doctors tried to restart their bodies after death. In his studies, he has shown that between 10 to 20 percent of people who have been brought back to life will remember being conscious when the doctors were working on them.

"A proportion of them (patients) will tell us they were able to see doctors and nurses working on them as if they’re looking from above,” Parnia told Vieira. “When people have died, their brain goes into a flatline state, so consciousness shouldn’t be present. But it could also be that [doctors] did something amazing to get blood into their brains.”

Dr. Parnia and his collegues are looking into the tales of “out-of-body experiences” as well. Currently, no one knows for sure whether OBEs (doctor shorthand) are real or if they are just a trick of the mind to ward off the painful process of the body shutting down.

If this is just a trick of the brain, how does a person who is flatlined recall what is being said and what is being seen on the operating table when s/he is not conscious and physically dead? How does science explain the universal tale of the 'light' that is seen and loved ones who have passed on coming forth to tell the person phrases like 'It isn't your time, you must go back."? Is it really and truly possible that people from all over the world have brains that act the exact same way, see similar things and feel the same sensations of unconditional love when death is present? Is it also fair to dismiss what a person who has come back has to say and what they have gone through?

Most people have a bit, if not a lot of skepticism in them. Most people also want to believe there is something more wonderful that awaits us. It's exciting that research is being conducted and that one of life's greatest mysteries is very close to being solved.



Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation

  • Elisabeth Kbler-Ross Foundation
    The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation is dedicated to furthering the legacy and work of pioneering legend, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is considered one of the most influential people and important minds of the last century. Her p
  • A Good Death
    Image by Andrew Dunn A Good Death The lord is my shepherd ...
  • The Things I Learned From My Husband's Death
    My husband died suddenly two months ago. It was so very cold that night and we had just gone to bed. I was snuggled safely beside him, my hand on his chest and his arm around me. Then his breathing changed....
  • What Convinced You of life After Death
    Having lost a number of loved ones over the years I have to wonder what convinced you of life after death, of if you even believe in it at all. Personally I have had a number of convincing experiences, from...
  • My Near Death Experience (My NDE)
    Today, in my 40-tees, I am happy, cheerful person, trying to look at the positive or humorist side of every happening in my life. And also I am aware that I am creator of my life. That was not the case in my...


Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on August 19, 2016:

Very interesting. I have had some experiences since my husband died but don't talk about it much as people think you are weird. But I believe that

life does not end when you die. After all your body dies not your soul.

Thousands of people have had contact or seen somebody that is deceased.

They can't all be imagining it can they.

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on March 25, 2012:

Interesting article, might I suggest The Source Field Investigations by David Wilcock which you might find interesting, I didn't want it to end. It has many interesting concepts and explores the NDE a little bit with a refreshing look.

Buddhists believe the soul incarnates 7 weeks after death, the Pineal Gland develops 7 weeks after conception . . . isn't coincidence God's way of remaining anonymous?

John Lennon and George Harrison both knew of their impending deaths and didn't try to stop it . . . perhaps they knew something we didn't.

I don't believe we die and that it is a transition, that we reincarnate over and over again and that the Earth and other planets are colleges for our souls. I have often wondered why I don't 'think' like the rest of humanity, until I realized that perhaps my soul isn't human, after all when we put limits on our perception we become narrow minded in our belief's.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on March 03, 2012:

Hi Mcals,

Thank for reading & commenting. I've always been fascinated by NDE's and read a lot on the topic. I will definitely be checking out the DVDs you mentioned.

mcals71 on February 29, 2012:

NDE is one of my favorite subjects and you treated it so well in this hub. I was first introduced to Near Death Experiences when I read Dr. Raymond Moody's "Life After Life" in the mid to late seventies. It was a novelty back then and I was so impressed that shortly after I also bought the VHS tape by the same title. To this day I never tire of watching those interviews and had the video tape transferred to DVD because I couldn't find it for sale anywhere. It must be out of circulation. I especially liked the video interview with Dr. George Ritchie. In fact there was a movie made about his NDE (not a very good one), entitled Beyond and Back. Fortunately Dr. Ritchie wrote his own wonderful book about his NDE, entitled "Return From Tomorrow." I must have read it at least half a dozen times, and even bought several copies of the book to give out to family members. Another good interview in the Life After Life videotape was the one with Daniel Brinkley who also wrote books about his own NDE, and a movie was made as well about his experience, although I don't recall the title at this moment. I voted this article up, awesome and interesting. Thank you so much for sharing.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on August 12, 2011:

Thanks for reading Trish!

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on August 12, 2011:

Hi :)

Very interesting article about a fascinating phenomenon.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 01, 2011:

That was nice reading about all the famous who've had this happen. Many will say this all occurs in the mind. Just recently found out someone I've know for almost 20 years had a NDE, they didn't think too many people would believe them. Oh, but many do. With our deep introspection and potential as individuals and collectively does it stand to reason that we're created only to be snuffed out for eternity in the blink of an eye? Fine hub here amymarie.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2011:

I absolutely believe in an afterlife and have written a hub about it. I've also read many books like "Life after Life"; "Embraced by the Light" and others. I was with both of my parents when they died...years apart, my mother being just recently. It warms me to think that they will be there to greet us when it is our turn.

Up and useful!

TAMMY on March 27, 2011:

My mom told me I was a breached baby. When I came out...feet first...the doctor said I was a girl. I was pushed back into my mother, by the doctor, my mother told me the pain was more than the birth itself. I have a memory, I can't explain....I remember being suspended in nothingness. I had no memory or thoughts..I remember sounds. All I knew is that I existed. I don't think this was NDE.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2011:

Hi Amber,

Thank you very much for the suggestions. I will be trying and I'll keep you posted!


Amber Mandala from Perry, Fl. on March 23, 2011:

I read the Conversations with God trilogy, Aug. and Sept. of 09'. It was great. I too lost my husband, Jan. of this year. Through much that I have learned spiritually, we were able to work through a lot before his passing.

I feel his presence with me. We have a close spiritual connection.

I have never charged anyone for messages from spirit. Amymarie, if you believe in such things I have some suggestion.

Ask if it is okay for the spirit visit. Prepare a small amount of time to think about and focus on the person, each day, not too much. Be ready,but not overly watchful,you will know when it happens. Usually the messages are short but meaningful, sometimes they are more involved. Good luck.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on March 22, 2011:

Thank you fossillady! I appreciate your comment. I've been trying to find a legit psychic. I was scammed once and now I'm afraid to try again. I'm glad you were able to make contact. That must have been so amazing!

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on March 22, 2011:

Amy Marie, I agree with everything Amber said and I, too, have been preoccupied with this subject after losing my husband little more that a year ago! I'm reading books about it and watching the programs and even went to a psychic. My husband orchestrated the whole experience from the other side, I know it was him that came through and no-one can tell me otherwise! The videos were amazing, I feel closer to my husband having an idea of what he went through when he died. My son and I watched him take his last five breathes right on our front porch! One book I'm reading is called "Conversations with God" by Neale Donald Walsch. It has been the most profound experience and it correlates with everything the people in the videos talk about! There are a series of three books and having read them has enriched my life! There is no doubt in my mind we go on! Thank you for sharing this important subject!

Amber Mandala from Perry, Fl. on March 21, 2011:

Your welcome Amy. I am sorry for your loss. I have been through several losses myself. Having the experience doesn't take the pain away of losing our loved ones. But it helps with coping with it. I don't know if you have read any of Betty Jean Eadies books or if you have heard of her. But I am a member on her site if you want to check it out. She was a light in the dark for me and remains one of my true hero's.

http://www.embracedbythelight.com/ I hope this helps for you. Namaste Amy~~~~~~~Cathy~~~~~~~

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on March 20, 2011:

Amber, thank you so very much for sharing your experience. I admit I'm a bit obsessed with this topic after losing some people I love very much. It's reassuring and comforting to know that we go on.


Amber Mandala from Perry, Fl. on March 20, 2011:

Remember, death is a part of the human experience. Life is eternal.

Amber Mandala from Perry, Fl. on March 20, 2011:

I had an experience in my youth that was very similar to a NDE. It profoundly changed my life and way of thinking. I like so many others did not want to go back into my body. I was depressed after the experience. For many years I felt so alone in my experience. I had never heard of such things happening to people. No one wanted to hear me talk about it. During the 90's I saw Betty Jean Eadie on Oprah. For the first time I was able to see that I was not alone.

As I have matured, I have learned to balance the longing to be in the light with a true appreciation for the opportunity that I have with this life. I have learned that the light is not here or there, all life is one.

quicksand on January 16, 2011:

A very interesting topic, but each one has to come to his own conclusions while paying attention to the popular opinions. Well, that's what I think.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on January 15, 2011:


Muldanian on January 15, 2011:

I don't have a link, but do have some book titles, which might interest you. They include: 'Beyond the Body: An Investigation of Out-OF-The-Body Experiences', 'In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist' and 'Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences.' These are by Dr. Susan Blackmore.

Amy DeMarco (author) from Chicago on January 15, 2011:

Hi Muldanian,

Thanks for sharing this bit of info. I've always found this topic to be interesting. Do you have a link to share? I'd like to know more about the study. Thanks!

Muldanian on January 15, 2011:

I don't think there is much mystery now concerning the cause of near death and out of body experiences. Scientists have induced the out of body state in tests. By stimulating a certain part of the brain, people have described floating out of their bodies and seeing what is happening below them. Whilst the out of body state seems very real, some people who have experienced it have investigated what they saw afterwards, only to discover that what they saw was incorrect. For instance, seeing rooms which did not exist, or observing other people doing things, which they were not doing. I remember reading of one woman who desribed floating to the house of a relation, and seeing their blue front door, as it had been, when they last visited them. However, when checking afterwards, it was discovered that the relation had painted their door a different colour some years before. I believe all this shows that whilst the out of body state seems very real, it is in fact a product of the brain.

Related Articles