A person named James was pronounced clinically dead following complications during surgery, before being resuscitated. However, while he was briefly dead, James believes he was offered a glimpse of the afterlife, and claimed it to be the most peaceful yet emotional time he has ever experienced. Writing on the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF), James said: “The first thing I remember was seeing a huge, round, and colourful opening or pathway. At the end of the pathway was a white church and other small white buildings.
“The sky was blue. I no longer felt anger, sadness, or regret. I also had a strange feeling that I can’t explain. I don’t know what love is, but I guess that this feeling was that someone loved me and forgave me. I badly wanted to stay.
“The emotions were so strong. There were four male figures on my left side. They were dressed in long grey overcoats. They didn’t have faces as we know them. Rather, their faces were glowing with a strong, bright light shining from their face.
“We didn’t have verbal communication. We communicated through emotional feelings. Three other figures appeared on my right side. They looked like the other figures with the same colour coats and faces of bright light. They came towards me in a non-threatening way.
“Then I woke up. The doctor told me what happened, but I didn’t care because I wanted to go back there.
“Before, I didn’t believe in life after death. But now, I am confused. This was not a hallucination because it was so real. I can never forget the feelings, warmness, and the knowledge that I was loved.
“I did not want to talk to anyone about this, but I made an appointment to speak to a priest.
“I am not afraid of death now.”
Some researchers, however, have said these visions are a normal phenomenon and not necessarily a sign of an afterlife.
Dr Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, told an Oz Talk: “People describe a sensation of a bright, warm, welcoming light that draws people towards it.
“They describe a sensation of experiencing their deceased relatives, almost as if they have come to welcome them.
“They often say that they didn’t want to come back in many cases, it is so comfortable and it is like a magnet that draws them that they don’t want to come back.
“A lot of people describe a sensation of separating from themselves and watching doctors and nurses working on them.”
Dr Parnia said there are scientific explanations for the reaction, and says seeing people is not evidence of the afterlife, but more likely the brain just scanning itself as a survival technique.