1. Entertainment

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

A Glimpse of the Afterlife
If there is a life after death, what is it like? Here are some "eyewitness" accounts from near-death experiencers - and they're not all positive.

The notion that there is a life after this one on Earth is a widely held belief that predates recorded history. While cultures like that of the ancient Egyptians believed existence continued in "the Land of the Dead," the more modern Christian beliefs offer an afterlife in Heaven as a reward or in Hell as a punishment. Even more recent ideas suggest that life might continue in another dimension or plane of existence - perhaps even on another planet.

Whatever the ideas, it's clear that humans want to believe - perhaps even need to believe in life after death.

There is no definitive proof, of course, that a life after death exists. But there are some rather compelling anecdotes that suggest there might be: remarkable cases of claimed reincarnation or past-life recall, for instance. There are also countless cases in which the recently deceased have appeared briefly to family members and friends to tell them that they are well and happy in another world.

Perhaps the most intriguing "evidence" are the stories related by people who have gone through the "near-death experience." It's estimated that 9 to 18 percent of people who are near death have a near-death experience. Although mainstream science suggests that these experiences are nothing more than the result of certain brain activity under extreme stress or hallucinations brought on by drugs or medication, perhaps these accounts shouldn't be so readily dismissed. If they are real, after all, they hold the only clues we have as to what life in the hereafter might be like.

From various cases of near-death experience (NDE), here is a glimpse of life after death.

The Tunnel and the Light

One of the most common experiences at the beginning of an NDE is popping or floating out of one's body and then floating or flying down a long tunnel toward a bright, white light that many describe as "loving."

  • "In front of me I saw a small light in the vast distance. The light started to get larger. It became more brilliant and it stopped in front of me. I felt an intense love, which came from the Light. I know without a doubt that this beautiful intense loving Light was God. The Light started to communicate with me; but the communication was telepathic, it was not verbal. The Light asked me if I wanted to come with it. At this point I completely understood the nature of the question and the consequences of my answer. If I choose to continue with the Light I knew that I would die and never return to earth. I thought about this and replied that I thought that I still had important things to do back there (on earth). At that point the Light began to recede. I found myself waking up on the bed of my dorm room." [A Near Death Experience in 1964 - Anonymous]
  • "I saw nothing but absolute, total blackness. In this capacity, though, I was looking at absolute nothingness or darkness, but my eyes were not straining. I had the desire to look around inquisitively. What is this place? Where am I? Instantaneously, this darkness took the shape of a tunnel. It was perfectly level, however slightly ambiguous in that it was straight before me and it was cloud-like. It was very vast, as opposed to small and confining, and was anywhere from a thousand feet to a thousand miles wide. I was very comfortable and inquisitive. It was cylindrical. If you took a tornado and stretched it out straight, it would be similar to that..."
  • "All was panic. The water was very cold. My heavy winter clothes were making it difficult to stay afloat. I continued to struggle mightily, thinking "I'm only nine. That's too young to die." The longer I was under the ice, the less significant time became. It was as if time had no meaning. Everything happened sequentially but simultaneously. I became very tired. I noticed that I could no longer feel the cold. My hearing was heightened. I could hear the movement of the water. I could hear the traffic on the bridge overhead and behind me. I could see clearly, even though it was dark and I was under the ice and moving downstream. Then, a complete calm and serenity overtook me. I was at total peace. I began to come into an awareness that all was not over. I could sense a light. It was brilliant, but caused no discomfort when looking at it. In fact, I gained strength by looking into the light. I then sensed a presence. I had the knowledge that this was Jesus, and he was assuring me that everything was fine. I felt total love from this presence. I was home. More so than I was ever home before. I was presented with a sense that all questions were to be answered if I stayed." [Near-Death Experiences - Rob]

A Place of Beauty and Love

The most frequent descriptions of the afterlife portray an unimaginably beautiful land of color, light and music.

  • "I can remember a beautiful place with beautiful colors, beautiful music..."
  • "When I was a little girl, I thought I would really like to know what Heaven was like. I decided that I would pray to God very hard and maybe He would show me. I prayed very hard for quite some time, until gradually there came a buzzing sound in my ears. The sound got louder and louder until it was all I could hear, and then suddenly everything became very quiet. I couldn't even hear the sounds you usually hear when everything is "silent." I was in a velvety blackness, but it was not like being in a dark room (I sensed there were no walls or floor or ceiling). Even though I didn't know what was going on and it was dark, I felt perfectly safe and "stood" there wondering what was going on. Then I saw a pin prick of light far ahead of me. I tried to look at it more closely and see what it was and as I looked it got bigger and bigger. As it grew I felt better and better. I felt totally known, but totally accepted and loved. It was the coolest feeling; words can't even come close to describing how nice it felt. I was relaxed and very happy. Then I was inside the light, which was I guess what being inside a cloud would look like. I felt so loved! I loved it right back and also I felt that just beyond the light, which I sensed acted like a veil or curtain in this case, I was being observed by people who knew me or knew of me and were smiling. I wanted to see them, whoever they were. The light knew what I was thinking and so did the people, and I was aware of this and didn't mind. Then I thought that I could "get used to" how wonderful it felt to be there." [Body Death - Anonymous]
  • "And then I saw, infinitely far off - far too distant to be visible with any kind of sight I knew of - a city. A glowing, seemingly endless city, bright enough to be seen over all the unimaginable distance between. The brightness seemed to shine from the very walls and streets of this place, and from beings which I could now discern moving about within it. In fact, the city and everything in it seemed to be made of light, even as the figure at my side was made of light." [Heaven and Hell: Dr. George Ritchie's Near-Death Experience]
  • "Suddenly I was aware of being in the most beautiful garden I've ever seen. I felt whole and loved. My sense of well-being was complete. I heard celestial music clearly and saw vivid colored flowers, like nothing seen on earth, gorgeous greenery and trees." [17 Near-Death Experience Accounts from Beyond the Light - Jennine Wolff]
  • "Gradually the earth scene faded away, and through it loomed a bright, new, beautiful world - beautiful beyond imagination! I stood in a glory that could only be Heaven. In the background were two beautiful, round-topped mountains, similar to Fujiyama in Japan. The tops were snowcapped, and the slopes were adorned with foliage of indescribable beauty. The mountains appeared to be about 15 miles away, yet I could see individual flowers growing on their slopes. I estimated my vision to be about one hundred times better than on earth. To the left was a shimmering lake containing a different kind of water - clear, golden, radiant and alluring. It seemed to be alive. The whole landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear and green, that it defies description. To the right was a grove of large, luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed to make up everything. I saw twenty people beyond the first trees, playing a singing-dancing game, something like 'Skip-to-My-Lou.' They were having a hilarious time holding hands and dancing in a circle - fast and lively. As soon as they saw me, four of the players left the game and joyfully skipped over to greet me. As they approached, I estimated their ages to be: one, 30; two, 20; and one, 12. Their bodies seemed almost weightless, and the grace and beauty of their easy movements was fascinating to watch. Both sexes had long, luxuriant hair entwined with flowers, which hung down in glossy masses to their waists. Their only clothing was a gossamer loin cloth with a loop over one shoulder and a broad ribbon streaming out behind in graceful curves and curlicues. Their magnificence not only thrilled me, but filled me with awe. The oldest, largest and strongest-looking man announced pleasantly, 'You are in the land of the dead. We lived on earth, just like you, 'til we came here.' He invited me to look at my arm. I looked, and it was translucent; that is, I could dimly see through it." [17 Near-Death Experience Accounts from Beyond the Light - Arthur E. Yensen]
  • "I found myself in a place of such beauty and peace. It was timeless and spaceless. I was aware of delicate and shifting hues of colors with their accompanying rainbows of 'sound,' though there was no noise in this sound. It might have felt like wind and bells, were it earthly. I 'hung' there - floating. Then I became aware of other loving, caring beings hovering near me. Their presence was so welcoming and nurturing. They appeared 'formless' in the way I was accustomed by now to seeing things. I don't know how to describe them. I was aware of some bearded male figures in white robes in a semicircle around me. The atmosphere became blended as though made of translucent clouds. I watched as these clouds and their delicate shifting colors moved through and around us." [17 Near-Death Experience Accounts from Beyond the Light - Alice Morrison-Mays]
  • "I stood there in this gorgeous meadow and I remember that the light there was different from the light here on earth. Though it was not that brilliant white light in which I was involved, it was a more beautiful light. There was a goldenness to this light. I remember the sky was very blue. I don't recall seeing the sun. The colors were extraordinary. The green of the meadow was fantastic. The flowers were blooming all around and they had colors that I had never seen before. I was very aware that I had never seen these colors before and I was very excited about it. I was thrilled to death of the beauty that was incredible. I could see a soft light glowing within every living thing. It was not a light that was reflected from the outside from a source, but it was coming from the center of this flower. Just this beautiful, soft light. I think I was seeing the life inside of everything."
  • "The world that I had entered was now as solid and real as the world that I had left behind, but the light was still visible. It was a living light. It had vitality and feeling. It was focused in every living thing just as the sun can be focused to a point with a magnifying glass. There were colors too, not only the colors that I had known on earth but many octaves of color. Surrounding all my friends and every other living thing was color, arranged in intricate geometrical patterns, each pattern unique, every pattern original. Permeating the colors and patterns was sound, countless octaves of sound. It was as though the colors could be heard. It reminded me of bagpipes. Filling the entire region were the droning sounds. Octave upon octave of invigorating, vitalizing sound. It was very subtle, practically imperceptible but immense, it seemed to reach to infinity. Superimposed on this vast life-giving hum, was the melody, which was created by the individual sound of every living thing. Light and sound, color and geometrical patterns were all combined into a totality of harmonic perfection."

Next page > Meeting Loved Ones and A Glimpse of Hell > Page 1, 2

Have You Had a Paranormal Experience?
Send me your true tales of strange, unexplained, and paranormal experiences. E-mail them to me for inclusion in a future article or story archives. Or post your stories and comments about this article on the Paranormal Phenomena Forum.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Previous Features

See More About

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.