Very few humans are comfortable with the notion of dying, even those who strongly believe in the here-after (although they might not admit it). Science is still learning a great deal about how the body dies, but there are few forays into what happens after the body eternally falls asleep.
Pim van Lommel and colleagues from the Netherlands published an article in The Lancet, a British medical journal, where they describe a study on near-death experiences. They interviewed 344 revived cardiac arrest patients regarding their recent brush with death, and 18% reported some memory of an experience. Their research approach attempts to obtain more accurate accounts without relying on long-term memories.
Of course, any scientific claim regarding after-death experiences are susceptible to many potential problems and critiques, like the occurrence of false memories or the unconscious brain misinterpreting activity from its environment. The Washington Post article below does a nice job of putting the research in perspective, so you should definitely read it carefully.
Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to know what will really happen to us after we close our eyes for the final time? What do you think?
If you really want to read about this to form your own opinions, read the published article: Pim van Lommel, et al., “Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands” The Lancet 358, 9298 (2001)
NOTE: I have not read this article completely, but will report back when I do for more commentary and perspective right here on Neuron News.