Near death experiences: visions of the afterlife from people who have been brought back
What happens after a person dies remains a mystery – from religion, science and philosophy – it is one of humanity’s great unanswered questions.
But some survivors of near-death experiences might provide some fascinating insight into what we can expect on the flip-side of life.
From the seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, floating above hillsides, hallucinations and demonic renditions of Rhianna’s music in hell, people who have come back from the brink have revealed all sorts of strange answers to what dying is really like.
Texan priest Gerald Johnson has made some shocking claims about what he witnessed when he was sent to hell following a heart attack in 2016
Gerald Johnson: ‘There was a section in hell where music was playing’
Pastor Gerald Johnson, 49, of Texas, said Rihanna‘s hit song ‘Umbrella’ echoed through the gates of hell during his bizarre visit to purgatory.
Mr Johnson said: ‘It just blew me away, it still baffles me to this day. There was a section in Hell where music was playing.
‘It was the same music we hear on the Earth, but opposed to entertainers singing it, demons were singing it.
‘While up here, you can listen to music to get over a breakup like ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ or ‘Umbrella’, but down there every lyric to every song is to torment you.’
He took to TikTok to explain his 2016 journey into the abyss which he said he ‘wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.’
As well as being forced to listen to fan-favorite hits in the fiery inferno, he also claimed to have witnessed the gruesome scene of a man being burned alive.
‘The things that I saw were indescribable, it makes me emotional,’ he said.
‘His eyes were bulging and worse than that, he was wearing chains on his neck… it was a demon holding the chain.’
In his viral clip the pastor warned others how to avoid the same hellish fate as he claims it is now clear to him why he was originally doomed.
‘The root of it is that although I did good and gave a lot to people, the thing that I had in my heart was unforgiveness towards people that have done me wrong,’ he said.
‘That’s my experience with Hell, it is a real place. God doesn’t send people to Hell, people send themselves to Hell.’
THE MOST COMMON FEATURES OF NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES (NDE’S)
Researchers from the University of Liege, Belgium, collected and analysed written accounts from 154 people who had gone through a near death experience.
Their analysis showed that each person experienced around four different phenomena during their experience.
The most frequently reported features were feeling of peacefulness (80 per cent of participants), seeing a bright light (69 per cent) and encounters with spirits/people (64 per cent).
In contrast, the two most uncommon experiences were speeding thoughts (five per cent) and precognitive visions (four per cent).
Duncan Seth-Smith: ‘I remember floating on a hill’
Duncan Seth-Smith, 67, from Lincolnshire, has a vivid memory of floating over a hill when he suffered a cardiac arrest on Boxing Day 2005.
Mr Seth-Smith, aged 50 at the time, recalled hearing doctors getting the defibrillator ready while unconscious in hospital, with one saying ‘again’ as he got ‘zapped’.
He was in the ICU for four days and just before being allowed home, he felt dizzy and collapsed, needing CPR again after suffering another cardiac arrest.
Recalling his second ordeal, Mr Seth-Smith said: ‘I have a vivid memory of floating over a local hill and looking down at people sledging.
‘It was a local country hillside but not known for sledging and not somewhere I had spent any time apart from driving by. At the time of the cardiac arrest there was no snow about.
‘I woke up in bed with a cut face where I had hit a trolley/bed when I passed out. The nurses said it took three defibrillator shocks to get my heart started and the rhythm back.
‘That is all I can remember, apart from asking my wife if it was snowing, to which she replied no.’
Mr Seth-Smith had three shocks from a defibrillator and later had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted.
Duncan Seth-Smith (pictured), 67, has a vivid memory of floating over a local hill when he went into cardiac-arrest following a heart attack in Lincolnshire on Boxing Day in 2005
Kevin Curtis: ‘I was zooming up from a dark place’
After being stung by bees multiple times in the face and neck 21 years ago, then 50-year-old Kevin Curtis was rushed to hospital.
Mr Curtis, now 71, was suffering from anaphylaxis and was unconscious but ‘aware of my surroundings’.
His blood pressure had drastically plunged and he heard a medic say if they did not get an epi-pen soon he would ‘most likely die’.
During the ambulance ride to hospital, Mr Curtis, of Lincolnville, Maine, recalls seeing an inviting bright light off to one side before sensing the vehicle had pulled over.
The grandfather-of-two said he could hear the paramedics discussing his ‘imminent demise’ then ‘felt the pain on and about my face’ when being removed from the ambulance.
Mr Curtis, a retired financial information architect, described the sensation as ‘zooming up from some dark, cool area’ back to reality.
‘Serene, non-threatening, some sort of out of body, calm, love is the best I can describe the overall moment. As a result I have no fear per say of death,’ he added.
‘I do worry about the path to getting to that place but death itself does not seem as frightening as an end.
‘I do not know what was on the other side of the light or what thoughts I would continue to be able to have and for how long, but it was not a place to be fearful of going.’
Mr Curtis, now 71, was suffering from an anaphylactic reaction and was unconscious but aware of his surroundings
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU DIE?
First your heart stomps pumping, so the flow of blood around your body stops.
This causes the blood to coagulate, forming clots and becoming thick and lumping.
Your muscles then stiffen in a process known as rigor mortis, which also stops you breathing and means no oxygen gets to your cells.
Your cells begin to die, releasing enzymes that make your body very welcoming to bacteria and fungi.
These decompose and purify your body and within a year, most of your flesh will have decomposed leaving just your bones behind.
Caroline Ghyselen: ‘I was in the air looking down on myself’
Caroline Ghyselen was 19 when she nearly died after going through the windscreen of a car.
As medics in A&E treated her, Miss Ghyselen said she had a ‘weird sensation of looking down on myself’.
She said: ‘I seemed to be up in the air, literally looking down. I thought to myself, wow, this is weird.
‘The overriding factor was the most amazing sense of calm and serenity and the feeling of pure joy.
Miss Ghyselen, who also sometimes talks about her experience on TikTok, realised that she would ‘have to go back’.
She ‘wasn’t happy’ about having to go back to her body as she knew she would be in pain and be facing a lengthy healing process.
She added: ‘I started to argue the point and saying over and over “I don’t want to go back, I don’t want the pain”.
‘The next thing I knew the nurse was rubbing my arm and saying to me “don’t worry love, we’ll give you something for the pain”.’
Caroline Ghyselen (pictured) was 19 years old when she nearly died after going through the windscreen of a car
Martin Holloway: ‘I had visions while in surgery’
Martin Holloway, from Colchester, ended up needing 70cm of his bowel removed in 2019 after being rushed to hospital severely ill.
The 64-year-old’s wife was told to get his relatives to hospital to prepare to say their final words.
While ‘on the verge of death’ and having surgery, Mr Holloway recalled what he described as ‘visions or remembrances’ of what was happening in the operating room.
When he awoke from the operation, the surgeon told him ‘You won’t recognise me’ but he told her that he did.
The warehouse operations manager said he knew her name, remembered her standing beside him, looking at him and others around the room, and talking to other doctors.
Mr Holloway said it ‘scared the hell’ out of her because she was worried he had been awake during surgery.
He added: ‘She asked “How do you know?” and I said that I kind of remembered her being there but she didn’t take it any further at the time.
‘I knew where I had been and I recognised her but had never seen her before.’
Mr Holloway added: ‘I thought the visions were my imagination under the drugs for the pain but after waking up and recognising her I wasn’t so sure.’
Martin Holloway (pictured), 64, of Colchester, was taken to hospital with blood clots, heart failure and colon issues in 2019