Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.
The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.
The existence of life after death is a universal question. Life of a man is a deflating shadow. If a man dies, will he live again? All of us have been challenged by this question.
Exactly what happens to us after we die? Do we simply cease to exist? Is life a revolving door of departing and returning to earth in order to eventually achieve personal greatness? Does everyone go to the same place, or do we go to different places? Is there really a heaven and hell?
In a large scale study of more than 2,000 people, British boffins confirmed that thoughts DO carry on after the heart stops.
The shock research has also uncovered the most convincing evidence of an out of body experience for a patient declared dead.
It had been believed the brain stopped all activity 30 seconds after the heart had stopped pumping blood around the body, and that with that, awareness ceases too.
However, the study from the University of Southampton shows people still experience awareness for up to three minutes after they had been pronounced dead.
Of those who said they had experienced some awareness, just two per cent said their experience was consistent with the feeling of an outer body experience – where one feels completely aware and can hear and see what’s going on around them after death.
Almost half of the respondents said the experience was not of awareness, but rather of fear.
However, the most significant finding of the study is that of a 57-year old man who is perhaps the first confirmed outer body experience in a patient.
The man was able to recall with eerie accuracy what was going on around him after he had ‘died’ temporarily.
Dr Parnia continued: "This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with 'real' events when the heart isn't beating.
"In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat.
“Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events."