According to International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS), near-death experience (NDE) is a “profound psychological event that may occur to a person close to death or who is not near death but in a situation of physical or emotional crisis” (Greyson 2001). Some individuals who haven’t experienced this might see NDE as a dream. But to those who have, this is not just a dream, but one with a greater and deeper meaning behind it. People who have had a near-death experience might have different opinions about it.
Some might think it was scary; others might say it was life changing. Life changing in a way that it helped change the way they see life as it is. These types of experience could lead to a transformation of oneself and could also give them a new perspective in life. But to whom does this happen? Why do people who have felt this suddenly gain a different point of view in the way that they’re living? What are the other aftereffects of these types of experiences?
Many studies say that near-death experiences happen to those who are sick critically, people who suffered from cardiac arrest and then survived, for example.
In the United States, it has been said that about nine million people have encountered this due to the medical resuscitation techniques advancements (van Lommel 2011). Also, near-death experiences could also occur to those people who are in involved in life-threatening situations such as drowning or being in a car accident, for example.
There are so many different things that each person feels when an NDE happens to them—fifteen characteristics, according to Moody. These include ineffability, having a feeling of peace that is overwhelming, out-of-the body episodes, or seeing a light.
Others reported seeing non-physical individuals—that is, someone they know who are already dead. Some said something about seeing what happened to them here on Earth; others mentioned about seeing a point of no return or if not that, coming back to life. Other survivors have said that they felt frustrated upon having to relate their experience with other people. Some even shared that they’ve heard that they were pronounced dead, or that they hear sounds that are unusual. Some survivors reported that they spotted a tunnel, or that they saw and felt their spirit leave their own physical bodies (Moody 1975, 1977). NDE survivors said that after their “return”, they are now less scared and less anxious of their actual death and that they now have an afterlife affirmation because of it (Sabom 1980). An English poet, John Dryden once said, “Death in itself is nothing. But we fear to be we know not what, we know not where.”
After reading this quote, I’m starting to believe that the reason behind these experiencers not being afraid of actually dying is because after their encounter with near-fatal situations, they now know what it feels like to be in the other side of this universe. They have seen a snippet of what life would be like for them after they die. Not only eliminating their fear of death, but they now have an increased faith in life after death, or what most people call afterlife, and are now more compassionate, loving, and are now more willing to serve other people (Noyes et al. 2009). This goes to show that the moment they came back to their physical body, they are like a brand-new person. Someone that they’ve never been in the past. A person who values life more than ever, and now has a more positive outlook in life after their experience with such situations where they thought they will vanish from this planet forever.
After having to feel these near-death experiences, it changes the person, or in other words, it renews them. There are so many other things that tend to happen to our NDE survivors—psychologically and physiologically. Some of the psychological changes noticed were: being more intuitive than before, having a sense of joy and wonder like a child, and being able to develop a sense of timelessness (Atwater 1998). According to Atwater, people who experienced these life-threatening situations tend to have out-of-body episodes, being able to “remember” the future, which could be the place they’ve been to when they had an NDE, being able to read other people’s mind, and also being able to “hear” plants and animals “talking”. She also has mentioned that experiencers are more aware of what’s happening in the present, which makes the future not that important to them. NDEs impact these survivors big time, and this could cause them problems in their relationships with their loved ones. The people who were “left behind” tend to have a hard time adjusting. It is said that divorce is common to couples wherein the other had an NDE (Mendoza 2018).
Physiologically-speaking, the major changes found in these people are: being more sensitive to light and sound, and electrical sensitivity. Them being more sensitive to light and sound could greatly change their lifestyle. Not many survivors can put up with loud, rock music like before, and now prefer mellow, natural sounds; most of them also use music as a way of helping them heal (Atwater 1998). When it comes to electrical sensitivity, it’s talking about how an electronic device could be affected by a nearby individual who has had an experience with a near-death situation. Some examples of these are: the explosion of light bulbs, watch that stops without any reason, or the malfunction of nearby computers and other devices (Rogers 2014).
Russell Noyes, a professor who had a passion for exploring near-death studies, has developed three categories of near-death experiences. These include:
Depersonalization is when a person loses emotion, detaches from his/her body. This is when an individual gets this feeling of strangeness and is also seen to be a sacrifice of oneself as a defense against their anxiety about an actual death (Greyson 2007).
The second one in the category, hyper alertness, according to Sabom, is the sharp, clear, and involuntary way of acting and thinking. A brighter perception, happiness, and automatic movements are also included in this category. Mystical consciousness is Noyes’s third category. This involves indescribable blending of oneself with the universe and also the feeling of pure joy and great understanding. To Noyes, depersonalization, or dissociation, represents body transcendence in a way that the reality of death isn’t included from consciousness (Heaney 1983). I think what this means is that, one stops being a human when their souls leave reality.
When we think about dying in general, our initial feelings would probably be anxiety or maybe we would be scared. This might be because we aren’t really sure where the next destination is, or if there’s even a next destination waiting ahead of us. No one has ever really gone forward to see what is going to happen. The future is a mystery. It is something that we don’t know anything about. It is uncertain. And these might be just some of the reasons as to why we are scared of dying. But I can’t help but wonder, what if each and every individual gets the chance to feel what a near-death experience is? I mean yes, life-threatening conditions sound extreme and frightful, but after looking on tons of journals and articles about this issue, the aftereffects of NDE sound pretty solid.
Not being afraid to die, and being renewed as a person? That to me sounds like having chance to redeem or change ourselves for the better. But even if I personally haven’t had this kind of experience, now that I think about it, I don’t think death is something that we have to be scared of. It is inevitable and is really bound to happen, and everyone will experience it at their own timing or their own pace. In my opinion, something that we should be more concerned about is how we’re going to make living in this world worthwhile. We certainly do not have to wait for us to have a near-death experience in order for us to be more loving and more compassionate with everyone around us. Who knows, it might be a little too late before we realize what we should have done.