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Jeruba's avatar

If you have ever had a truly close call with death: what did you learn?

Asked by Jeruba (52932points) January 22nd, 2009

Not a near miss from which you emerged unscathed, but a real terminal disease that you are living with, or a nearly fatal illness or accident that you survived.

What did it teach you? What new understanding or realization has it brought into your life? How have you been changed by coming face to face with mortality—your own, not someone else’s?

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16 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes. I learned nothing, my mind blocked the whole thing out.


pekenoe's avatar

This was a near miss, but not unscathed. Broken bones, concussion, punctured lung. Everyone I have talked too that experienced similar near death scenarios had the same thing to say. It was the start of a new life with a genuine appreciation for life and the knowledge to revel in the beauty that is now. To understand what in life is important. It has been a life changing experience for me, I look back on that wreck as the best thing that has happened to me.

I now know what spiritual is, I now know what true love is, I now know how to be at peace with myself, I now know how to be content. I now know what the true meaning of life is.

tennesseejac's avatar

In high school I had 3 concussions and the third one put me in the hospital for about 2 weeks where I was diagnosed with SBS (Shaken Baby Syndrome) because of the bruises on my brain. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I couldn’t walk for a month, I could barely see, and I still can’t hear well out of my right ear. The only thing I really took from it is LIFE IS SHORT

Vinifera7's avatar

No I haven’t.

Why is it that people that have had near-death experiences seem to claim a monopoly on knowing what the meaning of life is? I call bull shit on that. Not on you personally, but in general.

cak's avatar

I flat lined during a surgery. I don’t remember anything and I don’t think that is the moment where I decided to enjoy life, no matter what is thrown at me. It did; however, scare my husband – so much so, that he just now is really talking about it.

Being diagnosed and then watching my dad struggle with his illnesses, is really what made me take my appreciation for life up another notch.

I don’t think you have to be “terminal” or have a near death experience to embrace life, but I do think that it can move someone that doesn’t appreciate the small things in life, to stop and look around a bit more.

We’re all dying – the only difference is what is killing you. The next thing is what do you want to do with your time, while you are here? Are you ok with watching life pass you by and bitching and moaning about everything; or, do you want to do more, see more and make a difference? I could spend my time thinking poor me and saying that life is unfair, but I refuse to do that – but I refused to be that way before the surgery that almost ended my life.

cak's avatar

@Vinifera7 – I can’t speak for all people in that circumstance; however, I will say that it could just be the wake up call that a person needs to remind them that they are on limited time. Personally, if that is the end result, that they can appreciate life more, then I am thrilled to hear they understand to appreciate life and maybe even the small things!

Vinifera7's avatar

I agree with you, cak. My irritation was from the supposition that one is only granted “special knowledge about life” from a near-death experience.

I would contest that the true meaning of life is not in recognising its brevity, as contemplating the way each passing moment is spent is, ironically, not time well-spent.

Jeruba's avatar

You can certainly say “I learned A from B” without saying or even implying “B is the only way to learn A.”

pekenoe's avatar

@Vinifera7 Couple other things I learned from my experience: One was to not let people like you irritate me, the other was an understanding that people who have not had a “near death” will have a difficult time accepting what you “saw”.

I’m curious as to how you can make a judgement with no experience, no first hand knowledge, and not a clue as to who I am now compared to who I was?

You are basing an assumption upon your observations of what?

You are being critical of anothers observation just to cause a ruckus, I suggest that you involve yourself in discussions where you actually know something about the subject.

Bri_L's avatar

I learned how many people, at any given time, really care about you.

seVen's avatar

I back up pekenoe’s responses, I feel the same exact from my near death drowning at a lake. It’s something you’ll know only if you went through it, my parents and sister although religious don’t understand it still since spirituality is something different .

Jeruba's avatar

Since this question calls for personal statements of one’s own experience, any answer that amounts to that is a right (and unarguable) answer.

I have asked people this question individually. If I were involved in hospice work, I would ask it of terminal-care patients. One day I will ask it of myself.

A woman in her fifties who had survived breast cancer in her twenties as a single mother of two young children answered me this way: “I learned not to put things off.” It was her memorable response to my impromptu question over lunch that made me wonder what lessons others could share. I do believe people can learn from the experience of others. If that were not so, we would all still be digging for roots and grubs with our bare hands.

Vinifera7's avatar

Sure, I don’t have any experience. However I am being critical because this is an area that is not easily opened to investigation, and is therefore not immune to deception or misinterpretation.

pekenoe's avatar

@Vinifera7 If you have no experience, who are you to judge what is deception or misinterpretation? Generally, if one has no worthwhile knowledge of what the conversation is about, it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut and learn.

Nimis's avatar

@pekenoe That’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black, no?

Vinifera7's avatar

I’m just going to ignore Mr. Pekenoe. Let me know if anyone interesting shows up.

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