Lorry driver Al Sullivan had a heart attack at age 56 and remembers looking down at his own body on an operating table despite being unconscious (stock image)

Dr Bruce Greyson spoke with dozens of people who had a near-death experience and provides the accounts in his new book After. He provides his insights into the unusual experiences people had.


The author is adamant nothing he has discovered is proof of a spiritual dimension and a life beyond this world. All of the stories might arise from some hallucinatory faculty in the brain, which kicks in during the last moments of life. But the simplest explanation, he suggests, is that these experiences feel so convincing because they are objectively real, not hallucinations. He compares the stories to medieval travellers’ tales — imagine an explorer, he says, who returns home after an adventure in far-off lands and describes an exotic animal he encountered that’s able to travel for days across the desert without water.


It isn’t only scientists who feel uncomfortable talking about near-death experiences. Al the lorry driver learned not to say anything to his wife. During his surgery, he became aware of his mother’s presence beside him. She had died in her 50s, 20 years earlier, and now she appeared much younger, the way he remembered her as a child. She spoke to him, and guided the surgeon’s hands. Al was profoundly moved that she was watching over him, and during his recovery felt thrilled to know that he would see her again when he finally died. But his wife didn’t want to hear anything about this, and forbade him to talk about it. She married a happy-go-lucky guy, she said, ‘not some Old Testament prophet’.


John was unconscious for seven hours, during which he had what he could only describe as ‘eternity consciousness’. For the rest of his life, he found joy in everything… even the things that had previously been unpleasant and irritating.

‘The discovery that I could positively enjoy a cold — not merely wallow in the indulgence of a day in bed, but get a kick from the unusual sensations in my nose and throat — was a big surprise,’ he said.’I also started to enjoy tiredness and the many minor pains that afflict a 60-year-old body.’That fresh appreciation of life and the ability to ‘live in the present moment’ is a common consequence of near-death experiences, and a testament to their power, says Dr Greyson.

And so is a reduced fear of death. One especially tragic case involved a man called Henry, who lived with his mother on the family farm.Unable to cope after she died, he lay down on her grave and shot himself in the head. He didn’t die — but he did see his mother again. ‘Oh Henry,’ she told him sadly, ‘now look what you’ve done.’When he regained consciousness, far from feeling guilty or depressed, Henry was relieved. He was hideously disfigured, with half the right side of his face missing. But he knew beyond doubt that he would see his mother after he died, and that paradoxically gave him strength to go on living.


Psychiatrist studies near-death accounts and says they make you happier — Daily Mail


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