Death is a universal truth, yet not everyone believes the same truth about what happens when we die. Some are faithful to a long-standing religious belief, while others prefer to rely on scientific developments and research to explain what comes next.
Have you ever wondered what happens after you die?
The question is pointless: While some obsess over the afterlife (or lack thereof) more than others, everyone questions what lies beyond this life. You have surely heard of NDEs (near death experiences), and the phrases “I saw the light,” or “out-of-body experience” are symbolic of death.
While there are countless theories on what happens to you after you die (up next), a team of researchers has found some fairly conclusive evidence on the matter.
There are countless theories on the subject
There are a number of theories, both widely believed and controversial, surrounding what happens once you’re declared dead. Religious theories like that of Christianity believe your soul ascends to an afterlife, while others like Hinduism believe we’re reincarnated.
Controversial science-based theories include cryonics, often described as “modern mummification,” are an attempt to thwart a final death by freezing your body until science finds a way to bring you back to life. The scientific discovery we’ll explore next has a bit more conclusive evidence behind it.
The team of doctors set out to find what happens to your conscience after death
Sam Parnia, M.D., and his team from the New York University Langone School of Medicine conducted a study to find out beyond the “poorly defined term of NDEs” what objectively happens when humans die.
The team looked at studies in Europe and the U.S. on people who have suffered cardiac arrests and been successfully resuscitated or “come back to life.” “They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working and they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” Parnia told Live Science.
Their studies mirrored the movie ‘Flatliners’
Their quest was similar to the ’90s cult horror movie Flatliners and its 2017 remake. Like the young doctors played by Ellen Page and Nina Dobrev, Parnia and her team found that a person’s consciousness continues to work after they die.
In the film, the doctors conduct a highly dangerous and questionable experiment to see what their consciousness recalls in the minutes following their “death,” by taking turns stopping each others’ hearts. The team at the Langone School of Medicine opted for a less controversial process and studied cardiac arrest patients who had “near-death experiences.”
It is not the first time brain activity after death has been recorded
According to The Sun, a team of doctors at a Canadian intensive care unit studied four terminal patients. They were shocked to find that while three ceased to have any brain activity, the fourth person had persistent brain activity for nearly 10 minutes after they had turned off the life support machine.
Brain waves like those we experience while sleeping continued to occur ten minutes after the medics declared the person clinically dead. However, they had no pulse and unreactive pupils. The team of researchers from the University of Western Ontario reported: “Electrocerebral inactivity preceded the cessation of the cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure (ABP) in three patients. In one patient, single delta wave bursts persisted following the cessation of both the cardiac rhythm and ABP.”
The conclusion: Your brain knows you’re dead
“Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs, and brain to cease functioning,” Parnia explained.
In other words, while your body may be dead, your mind is still active. Even eerier than that? Your mind can actually recognize the fact that you’ve died, according to the team’s research.
His explanation about the findings clarifies a few things
Parnia specializes in critical care. His research centers on patients who have undergone a near-death experience and have been resuscitated. He explained to The Independent that his claim is based on the very meaning of death itself.
“Technically … how you get the time of death — it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops. Once that happens, blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function halts almost instantaneously. You lose all your brain stem reflexes,” he said. However, this evidence suggests that a burst of brain energy as you die may be why you remain aware of your death.
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