Hearing stories from people who’ve had a near-death experience is fascinating and terrifying. Some claim to have seen nothing but blackness, while others recall something deeply moving and spiritual that changed them forever.
In this AskReddit article, people who’ve either survived a near-death experience or had a connection with someone who died share how it subsequently affected their thoughts about religion and the afterlife.
1. No longer fear death
“I was in an airplane that was going down. I went through the mental stages of dying. Said a prayer, didn’t help. At the end I felt peace and acceptance and a very calm. Then the controls unlocked and we just managed to pull out. I don’t fear death after that.”
“On my second flight ever I had the most terrifying flight experience and I was already scared to death of flying (actual phobia). We were experiencing some serious turbulence and at a certain point it felt like the plane was going down and down and down, as if the pilot was unable to control the aircraft. The pilot made zero announcements. At first the others passengers were calm and still talking to each other while I was losing my shit and hugging the empty seat in front of me crying.
Then shit got real, we were still shaking violently, still going down and we were a few minutes from landing. I looked around once more and the other passengers were eerily quiet and the stranger next to me was holding my hand. I knew we were a couple of minutes off the ground and I thought we wouldn’t make it.
Though I was somewhat angry at the pilot for not reassuring us or not telling us to brace or whatever the f*ck, towards the end, when I thought we wouldn’t make it, something strange happened: I stopped crying and I accepted my fate. I was calm and ready. I said to myself, I’ve experienced nothing but I’ve had a good run and this is going to be fast so it’ll be fine. I was eerily calm.
And I was ready. Since then I don’t fear death in itself anymore, the thing I fear is experiencing something horrible prior to my death. It took me two years to book another flight and I legit may have PTSD from that experience. I have regular vivid nightmares of dying in a plane crash and those recent flights I booked were technically smooth but if they were longer, I would have picked all of my skin off.”
“I was hit by a car and I remember my memories flashing all in an instant, and then everything went white.
That emptiness of white scares me.”
4. Living, not dying
“Religion, not so much and after-life not at all. What they did was affect my views on living. Beforehand I was driven to succeed in every aspect of my life. Terrified of failure or rather criticism of not over achieving. Afterward I realized that simply doing was enough.
I went on adventures, tried different careers and romanticized everything I could. Sunsets, happy dogs, good wine, beautiful women, big fish, great trucks. I got married, had kids and wondered at their wonderings. Lots of grandkids now and looking forward to watching them have their own adventures.”
“The night my dad died I had an incredibly vivid dream. We weren’t close but I had flown out to see him one last time, and the day after I arrived he died. That night I had a dream that I was sitting on some ancient path, think about how ancient Greece is often depicted. It was bright, the grass was lush and green, there were birds and I was wearing some sort of white robe.
I was sitting and looking down at something in my hands when my Dad walked by. He looked strong and healthy and was also wearing a white robe. He walked a few feet past me then suddenly stopped in his tracks, turned around and said “what are you doing here?” I was in disbelief, just utterly in shock. I don’t remember that I said anything but I remember how I felt and even though I wasn’t close to him, I felt peace. There was calm. He hugged me and it felt so real, then before he left he simply said “it was really good to see you”. And then I woke up. I haven’t had a dream like that ever since.”
“I have had a few dreams about my aunt who has passed. Extremely close. All which I am sobbing in my dream telling her how much I miss her. The second dream I had of her reminded me of this. I was walking up a flight of stairs and to my left there she was in the bathroom. Each dream with her I do not enter across into the room or doorway where she is. I see her and immediately cry asking “what are you doing here?! You are supposed to be in heaven!”
She smiled and calmly said to me. I am just visiting. If I remember correctly I hugged her and cried more. The two dreams I have had of her are so special to me. She is an angel who has shown my family in many ways her hellos from heaven. I have always believed in heaven, seeing her though, I now know.❤️ I do miss her a lot. So much.”
7. During surgery
“When I was 18 years old I had major chest surgery due to an incident I had while being in the Army. I awoke after surgery only to realize I was not actually awake, I woke up to utter darkness, I could hear the voices around me talking about me praying I was going to get better. But the voices got quieter and the darkness diminished, a light started to appear, this light was no ordinary hospital light, lamp, the sun, or anything like that.
The light was so bright yet I couldn’t look away, I felt it getting closer and closer, and then I heard a voice, it was my mothers. She was talking about me, talking about how I was crying. Then I felt it, the light was right there, if I would have stuck my hand out I could have touched it. I could feel myself sobbing over what I was seeing but I was unable to do anything, after a couple minutes of staring into the light I finally found the courage to reach out to it, but when I went to grab it I found myself waking up in my hospital bed with everyone’s eyes focused on me.
Now I am not a religious man by any means, so I have considered the option of my dream happening due to the anesthetic. But this did not feel like a dream, it felt too real, I still see the darkness to this day.”
8. Questioning faith
“I fractured my skull when I was a kid. While I was out, I was visited by an entity that told me that I wouldn’t have to go to heaven or hell if/when I died. I was told that my life energy would be released in the form of light and that light would shoot off across the universe until it encountered another planet with intelligent life. I could live a life there and continue the journey when I died there.
I should note that I’m a preacher’s kid. This totally called into question the faith I was growing up with.”
9. Given a choice
“I was pretty dead after a car accident ( back when you could ride in the back of pickup trucks we were T-boned in an intersection) and I went into the tunnel of light. Chose to come back because I was given a choice. I missed my family, friends and my cats so I came back. I remember the tunnel being a white gold color, very warm friendly and inviting. When I woke up in the street I was bloody, cold and in shock but I knew what had happened a moment before. Chalk it up to extreme blood loss or dopamine release or what have you, but I know what I saw.
What I got from it was that our perception of life is much like a radio that is broadcasting one frequency you can hear but actually broadcasting all the frequencies all the time but we choose to only tune in to one. There is so much more to life ( and death) than what we are told to believe. Be good to one another and yourself. It matters in the end.”
“Tried to kill myself when I was 20 by overdosing on pills. Everything just went black. I was raised Southern Baptist but since then have gone agnostic and am terrified that there is an actual eternal afterlife. I get panic attacks thinking about an afterlife that just stretches on and on and on. Just thinking about it makes my gut clench and yearn for nothing more than that peaceful nothing when my time comes.”
11. You won’t know you’re dead
“I’ve been brought back twice and I won’t be able to answer your questions. What I can tell you is that you won’t know you’re dead. Its cold, you walk among walls its snow or ash thats falling I couldn’t tell you. It could be a minute or 100 years, I couldn’t tell either time.”
“About 13 years ago I fell into a retention pond in the middle of winter. I was wearing a down coat and despite being a good swimmer, had a very hard time getting out, in fact I barely made it back out. I got my upper torso out of the water and fell on the shore. From there until waking up in the ambulance to the EMT saying they didn’t have a pulse I don’t remember. I do remember though while I was out that I saw bright white mixed with memories of my uncle who had died several years earlier.
At this point in my life I was searching for religion and was a pretty shitty person. After I regained consciousness and yelled “I’m alive!”, I reflected upon my life choices for several weeks. I kept going back to the experience of near death. When I arrived at the hospital that day my body temperature was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it took 5 hours to get my temperature up to normal and the doctors were surprised I was still alive. Thinking about that and what I saw made me realize that it doesn’t matter what religion I choose, I need to be a better person.
It took a few years for the self reflection and inner thoughts to take effect but I ultimately decided upon a philosophy of living instead of a religion. I chose Daoism as a basis for my philosophy of life. A few years later, around 7 or 8 years ago, I started seeing everything around me as a basis for what others might call God. I pray, but usually to nature or to the sun, depending upon the circumstances. For me, everything is connected in some way and it is through nature I have life. Life I should be thankful for.
Afterlife is complicated for me still. I basically believe a large number of things can happen after we pass and leave our physical body. However I am adamant that in some way our spirit remains, whether imprinted upon the land or in people’s hearts or both. Our body goes back to the earth but our inner being, our true energy, or spirit remains to give back in what ways we can.”
“Died for six minutes, all I remember is floating in black. Still an atheist.”
“It at first jaded me, I woke up unable to remember anything. Not knowing where I was or how I got there. It was the most alone I ever felt. As I grew older I came to realize that there was a plan for me. I thought there is a difference I can make for someone, even if it is one person. Because I don’t want someone to feel as alone as I did in that hospital bed. I also saw a bunch of symbols that I can’t forget, they looked like red, blue and green bars on a horizon.”
15. Still have a job to do
“I attempted suicide by gunshot just over 5 years ago. Was found by a coworker who came to check on why I was late and got rushed to the local hospital and then flown via helicopter to a better hospital about a 30 min drive away. Doctors claim that I “died” and was resuscitated 5 times during the commute. Spent about 5 months in and out of hospitals during recovery and the whole time I had doctors telling me that I shouldn’t be alive and that something out there decided that I still have a job to do on this blue marble.
Hearing some of the best doctors in the region tell me that over and over again convinced me that there is a higher power out there. I was raised by Christians but I can’t bring myself to believe that what they say is completely correct. I believe that there is a power out there that cares about us and what we do but in my opinion, they have a goal and know the one way that we will reach that goal for us and they are content to let us do our own thing with him/her/it just nudging us in the right direction and only intervening when we really f*** up.”