Although no one knows for sure what happens to consciousness after death, survivors of NDEs, or near-death experiences, describe some common events that are said to occur. These include leaving the body, traveling through a tunnel of light, meeting with deceased loved ones and returning to the body.
Not all NDEs contain all these elements. In fact, some of them are said to be full of torment and anguish. Near-death experiences occur, as expected, when the person is near clinical death and is resuscitated.
The first part of the common NDE is described as leaving the body. The person feels his spirit or consciousness lift free of the physical body, at which point senses, emotions and memories are said to become sharpened and more vivid. It is events occurring during this stage that survivors are able to recount afterward and be confirmed as accurate. This is known as a veridical experience.
The second element is the tunnel of light, representing the supposed transition to the afterlife. This can also be combined with a life review or meetings with loved ones or otherworldly entities such as angels. Many NDE survivors describe feelings of euphoria and love. The final stage is the return to the body, usually accompanied by the deceased loved ones informing the person that it is not his time to die.