Transformed by a Near-Death Experience

Transformed by a Near-Death Experience

Sponsored Content from the International Association for Near-Death Studies

Painting by Cynthia Marsh @cmarshstudio, used with permission.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are profound subjective experiences with mystical or transcendental features that may occur during the course of a close brush with death.

When you hear the phrase near-death experience (NDE), what do you think of? Someone “going toward the light,” having a life review, or seeing loved ones who have passed? These characteristics and many others have been reported, but not all NDEs unfold in the same way or have the same elements.

How about what comes after having a near-death experience? An NDE often changes a person’s view of life, death, love, and even their core values. It may take quite some time to integrate these dramatic behavioral and psychological transformations.

Although each near-death experience is very personal and unique, many strikingly similar features show up when comparing NDEs across different cultures and backgrounds.

Near-death experiences may include one or more of these signature features, but rarely all are experienced by any one person:

  • Separation of consciousness from the physical body, yet still feeling like oneself

  • Perceiving the material world from a position outside (usually above) the physical body

  • Moving through a tunnel of light at tremendous speed

  • Being surrounded and embraced by a sentient, indescribably vibrant, and brilliant light that emanates love and peace

  • Heightened senses where the experience feels “more real than real life”

  • Encountering mystical beings, loving presences, or loved ones who have passed

  • Re-living scenes from one’s past, without outside judgment, from each participants’ perspective—actually being on the receiving end of one’s own actions

  • Suddenly seeming to “understand everything” and feeling a sense of harmony and unity with the universe

  • Being shown scenes from the future

  • Coming to a border and being directed to return, or making the choice to return to their physical body

  • Reentering their physical body

Studies have shown that after experiencing an NDE, a person is more likely to have no fear of death. Most come away with a deep understanding that the essence, or fabric, of all life is LOVE. Many become more spiritual (but less religious) and feel an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life. They often have greater compassion for others and the environment.

Most NDEs are heart-opening and joyous, but that’s not the case for every experience. A small percentage of NDEs are distressing or unpleasant, leaving these people confused or disturbed. They may feel embarrassed to share openly about their experience—yet they are not alone. Each experience is valid and worth exploring. Raising public awareness of NDEs helps experiencers feel supported and understood.

As people have become familiar with NDEs they are more often featured in shows, movies, and books. You can find an abundance of YouTube channels, Facebook groups, and organizations dedicated to the topic of NDEs. Since 1981, the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) has been a trusted source for NDE research, support, and education.

IANDS’s annual in-person (and live-streamed) conference provides a place for NDErs, family members, and friends to understand more about NDEs and connect with others who have had similar experiences. Keynote speakers this year includes Suzanne Giesemann and Anita Moorjani (Aug 28th - Sept 1st in Phoenix, AZ). Visit the conference website at for more information.

Learning about NDEs opens a window into one of life’s biggest mysteries—what happens after death? Whether you, or someone you know, has had a near-death experience, NDE stories are worth listening to and may expand your view of life itself!

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