A Man Describes What It's Like to Briefly Die: 'I Was Separate From My Body'

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A Man Describes What It's Like to Briefly Diesdominick - Getty Images
  • A near-death experience left Kevin Hill watching his own resuscitation.

  • The science behind a near-death experience has to do with brain activity.

  • Hill's experience happened at the hospital following a difficult battle with an uncommon disease.

There was a peace about Kevin Hill as he watched himself die. And it's a memory he now has after doctors resuscitated him and turned his death into a near-death experience (NDE).

"I knew I was bleeding. I knew it was serious," he tells The Mirror. "The staff kept coming in and out to stop the bleeding. I knew I had died. I was separate from my body."

That's how the memory ends, with the current reality of him being quite alive. "I just went to sleep, and I woke up alive and the bleeding had stopped," he says. "I knew it wasn't my time to die."

Hill, 55, from Derbyshire in England, has a disease that eats away at his skin. The calciphylaxis grew so intense that in 2022, he started bleeding and his heart stopped from the blood loss before doctors revived him.

"I wasn't looking down at my body," Hill says about the event, "but I was separate from my body. It was like I was in the spirit realm. I was conscious of what was going on, but I had so much peace."

Maybe NDE stories sound far-fetched to you, but scientists say the events definitively do occur. The experts just aren’t entirely sure how—or why.

Researchers—especially those from the International Association for Near-Death Studies—believe NDEs most likely happen due to a change in blood flow to the brain during sudden life-threatening events, like a heart attack, blunt trauma, or even shock. As your brain starts losing blood and oxygen, the electrical activity within the brain begins to power down. “Like a town that loses power one neighborhood at a time, local regions of the brain go offline one after another,” one expert told Scientific American.

During a NDE, your mind is left to keep working, but without its normal operational parameters. Whether simply an oxygen shortage, some sort of anesthesia, or a neurochemical response to trauma, as hypothesized, the NDE leaves those who experience it with a real, sometimes detailed memory.

"Everyone said I should be dead," Hill says. Instead, it was a NDE.

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