Feature Archive

Did I Really Die?

There may be a medical reason for near-death experiences.

WebMD Feature

Jayne died once. It was an experience she'll never forget.

Almost 50 years later, the South Carolina woman recalls the experience with vivid clarity. It happened when her heart suddenly stopped during the birth of her second child. "I felt something leave my body. I couldn't see because I was enveloped by a gray mist, but I was never unconscious," she says. "Standing in that mist, I began to realize I had died, yet I had intense feelings of joy and gratitude that I was still 'alive.'"

The mist began to dissipate and gave way to a bright light. "I became one with the light and was cradled by it. I remember such feelings of love and protection that it was ecstasy. I actually began to wonder how much more I could take before I would shatter."

In the new realm she had entered, Smith conversed with another being. The being answered questions for her, such as "What is the meaning of life?" but prevented her from carrying much of the knowledge back to earth. Painfully, she awoke to find her doctor massaging her heart.

Smith's recollections are a classic example of a "near-death experience." While these experiences differ from person to person, they tend to share many of the same traits. Common among them are the sensations of separating from one's body, seeing or feeling an intense, enveloping light, having powerful emotions, meeting with deceased relative, a supreme being, or both, and reviewing one's life.