Regardless of age, culture, and background, knowing what dying and death feels like are some of life's biggest questions. Near-death experience research is bridging the gap between life and death and providing the masses with interesting and meaningful findings.
Near-Death Experience Studies
Near-death experience (NDE) research began to increase in the 1970s when the term was created by Raymond Moody to describe the afterlife. Nowadays, there are forums and institutes dedicated to better understanding this mysterious experience. Studies tend to conduct their research by interviewing survivors or asking them to fill out questionnaires. Some studies also measure brain activity during the revival process. This assists researchers in identifying important themes and using this information to inform further research.
Many studies have compiled research to generate and analyze patterns that are showing up most commonly with those who have experienced NDEs. The majority of these studies have focused on those who experience a sudden onset of trauma, like a cardiac arrest, versus a drawn out dying process. One of the few studies that researched NDEs for those who had experienced severe head traumas followed by comas noted that the rate of NDEs was very low (3 out of 86). Regardless of the population studied, some common themes include:
- 78% of people reported experiencing a change in time or perception of time during their NDE.
- Feelings of love, seeing deceased loved ones, and heading through a tunnel.
- Leaving one's body and no feelings of fear.
- A study at the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation found that a high number of those who do not believe in God experience NDEs. They also found that some reported "hellish" experiences, while others experienced "mystical lights", religious figures, symbols, and feelings.
- In this study of those who experienced head trauma, there were also reports of feeling helpless and experiencing something supernatural.
NDE Findings Regarding Consciousness
Research has indicated that there may be a disconnect between the body and consciousness, meaning that even if someone is pronounced dead and they show no brain activity, there can still be a functioning consciousness that experiences, sees, and feels. Cases of those who have survived near-death experiences illustrate that there are circumstances where individuals are able to report exactly what was going on in the room when they were revived, despite showing zero brain activity and having no body functioning. These findings also may provide some with comfort in knowing that moving from being alive to dead may not be as scary as one may think.
NDE May Signal Impending Death
One study found that the majority of individuals who had a deeper, more intense near-death experience passed away within 30 days. This potentially indicates NDEs as a sign of impending death. Scientific studies continue to research NDEs as for now they have only scratched the surface in understanding this unique experience.
Near-Death Experience Research Foundation
The Near-Death Experience Research Foundation was founded by Jeffrey and Jody Long and is a free service that allows you to research NDEs, share your own NDE story, and join NDE groups. There are over 4,600 NDEs listed on their site, and 23 language options to translate into making it one of the largest and most connected NDE websites available. There is an extensive amount of compiled research accessible on the site as well if you'd like to read about recent studies.
Books About Near-Death Experiences
If you're interested in finding out more about near-death experiences, there are great books that cover the topic in more in-depth ways. Some great options include:
- Evidence of the Afterlife was written by one of the founders of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr. Jeffrey Long. This book compiles case studies of over 1,600 near-death survivors.
- Life After Life was written by Dr. Raymond A. Moody, one of the first individuals to explore NDE in a clinical setting. This book delves into his research of over 100 participants that were pronounced dead and were later revived.
- The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences by P.M.H. Atwater investigates several clinical studies and compiles the research on NDEs. The author interviews researchers and experts to get their take on common themes and myths surrounding near-death experiences.
- Consciousness Beyond Life by Dr. Pim van Lommel explores whether there's a consciousness after you've passed away. The author shares interviews with individuals who have had NDEs and what they experienced when they slipped away.
The Significance of NDEs
Better understanding near-death experiences can illuminate some major questions that many individuals are curious about. Not only are there great studies already out there, but more research continues to be done to help provide meaningful information to the public.