General Question

wildpotato's avatar

Ever know you were about to die? What went through your mind?

Asked by wildpotato (15011points) May 21st, 2009

I mean “about to die” not in the existential sense of anticipatory resoluteness (or the existentiell sense of falling/evasion), but in an immediate way. Like when you turn around and see headlights bearing down on you. My thought was, “I’m so glad I’m listening to this song.” But now I can’t remember what song it was.

Another related question: when you die, would you prefer to know that it is coming, even if only for a split second of reflection, or would you rather go the bang-lights-out way?

Apologies if this question is similar to some others, but I do think it covers new ground.

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29 Answers

elijah's avatar

I just remember the feeling rise from my toes up, holding my breath, and thinking “no!” there wasn’t time to think anything else.

zephyr826's avatar

I lost control of my car once, driving back to school after spring break. It had started snowing, and the car skidded under a semi (a la The Fast and The Furious). My first thought was “I’m going to kill my mother. What will my family do?” (She was in the passenger seat). Miraculously, I pulled it out from between the wheels without touching them, and hit the interior guardrail over the Mississippi instead of the one that leads to the river. No one was hurt, and I was so glad.

I would rather not know. That moment was one of the most painful of my life, and I don’t want to do it again.

Loried2008's avatar

Oh crap. lol

casheroo's avatar

When I was in labor, and my sons heartrate dropped to a critical rate…it became surreal. It was like I left my body.
I had many talks with my husband that they were to always save the baby and not me, if it came down to it during labor. It’s your worst nightmare come true. All I could think about was the life I had been growing inside of me for 39 weeks and 1 day.
Luckily the problem was one that the doctor could fix by reaching inside of me.
After the scare, all I could do was cry and ask for my mother and have my husband hold me. We were both very shaken up.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Bewilderment at how time appeared to slow down into frames of movement but the voice in my head spoke at regular speed and I was able to look around at what was going on at my perceived regular speed which pushed me to act and not be made dead.

Likeradar's avatar

I was happy my ID was in my pocket. It was so incredibly peaceful, but a little sad to be dying (obviously, I wasn’t really), and I was glad it would be easy to notify my parents.

I think I would rather just have it be lights out, but if dying really is as peaceful as what I experienced, then knowing right beforehand would be ok too.

I was at a concert and thought “there’s a lot of crowd surfers here.” Then BAM, right in the head/neck with a big ol’ shoe. I got wobbly for a second, but remained standing, then thought I was ok. Then everything went black, and I felt like I was floating, and I heard lovely music. Turns out I was in the fetal position on the floor, and was dragged out by a medic. I went to the Dr the next day, and found out it was my 2nd concussion in 2 weeks. Yay.

bezdomnaya's avatar

I have not had any near-death experiences. However, I thought I should share this from NPR: Is This Your Brain On God? which will have a feature on near-death experiences tomorrow.

wildpotato's avatar

Thank you, everyone! This is fascinating, and I am so glad you are all still alive!

essieness's avatar

When I went through my major adrenal crisis (before being diagnosed with primary adrenal insufficiency), I knew I was going to die soon. By that point, I was so sick, it didn’t matter. It was the better alternative. I’ve always figured I’d die young, so I wasn’t shocked or anything. I guess I was thinking, “Well, I sure hope my family is able to sort out my personal stuff finances, belongings, I hope they figure out what was wrong with me, and I hope they cremate me and have a huge party.” Don’t get me wrong, now that I’m better, I’m glad I didn’t die, but at the time, I was just “meh” about it. I actually looked forward to being with my dad again, who died in 2007.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I had landed in a snowdrift on the rooftop where my stepfather threw me. All I had on was a cotton slip. I heard the roof door click shut. WHERE IS MOMMY!?WHERE IS MOMMY!?WHERE IS MOMMY!? At some point I went unconscious. I don’t remember being found or waking up.

I learnt later that at the time this happened, I was 3.

Likeradar's avatar

@aprilsimnel Really? Was this somehow joking on his part?!?!

aprilsimnel's avatar

No. He was trying to kill me by exposure. He was a very abusive man, and mentally ill on top of that.

jca's avatar

about 10 years ago i choked on a bone, and could not breathe. i lived alone, and the feeling of not being able to breathe was very scary. i was gasping and thinking am i going to call 911 and then run to the neighbor’s house and knock and die on their doorstep? or am i going to die right here in my house and nobody will know for days. i managed to swallow the bone, which got stuck in my throat, and i had to go to the ER and have an operation to get it out. i will always remember that scary feeling of not being able to breathe – very panicky feeling.

fedupwitcaddys's avatar

i was ejected 30ft into the air from a 3 time car roll over on the high way. im afraid everything was happening soo fast i didnt have to think, but i do know i was ready to take it like a man or shall i say woman. but once i got out of the hospital i was ready to strangle my cousin who wouldnt give me her car keys because she was drunk.

Darwin's avatar

I haven’t ever died or really come close to dying, except once on the operating table – I don’t remember a thing but apparently I started having an asthma attack so they had to intubate me. When I woke up I felt as though my lungs were full of water and my throat was sore. It turned out that they managed to chip part of my jawbone, so that hurt more than the incision ever did, until the chip worked its way out.

In the few serious car crashes I was in what happened was that time started to flow very slowly and everything went totally silent and slightly gray until the car came to a stop with a crunch. I never realized I might be getting ready to die. I was just observing everything.

My husband, however, has actually died several times.

The first time he died he was in surgery and discovered himself looking down on the table and listening to the doctors fuss. Then he saw a bright light in one upper corner of the room and went towards it, but his late uncle came out of it and told him it wasn’t time yet. Next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed with drains coming out of his abdomen.

When his heart stopped when he was in the hospital after angioplasty he remembers yelling at the doctors to quit using those damn paddles because they hurt. However, those of us standing near him didn’t hear him make a sound any of the several times they had to do that.

The last time he died he was in a coma and when he shocked the doctors and woke up he couldn’t remember anything from three days before the coma to the day he woke up.

BookReader's avatar

…for me death is a real “illusion”...

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes. The bullet.

BookReader's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence- i’m taking a scientific approach…

chyna's avatar

I had been in surgery and had lost quite a lot of blood, but for some reason they didn’t know it. I’m not sure I was near death but I felt sort of outside my self and kind of floating.

VS's avatar

Well, two clear instances come to mine, similar and yet quite different. The first was when my abusive husband swung a belt buckle that connected with the back of my head opening a wound that required 12 stitches to close and knocked me out cold. As I was going down, I was literally seeing stars and momentarily thinking I was dying and who would rescue my child. I came to a few seconds later and was able to escape with my child and the next door neighbor took me to the hospital.
The second time was a simple (if such things can be called simple) panic attack. My heart raced and I was certain I having a heart attack and that death was imminent. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom because I remember thinking how undignified it would be to die on the crapper. I brushed my hair, put on my cutest pj’s and lay down in my bed to accept death. Needless to say I woke in the morning and have had no more panic attacks since that one, now nearly 24 years ago.
Both instances were quite disturbing and unsettling, but after a few seconds, both times I accepted that death was coming for me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

Jack79's avatar

First time it happened, I was thinking about my funeral, and what people would say, and who would come. Funilly I thought of my friend Mike (who was not my best friend or anything) and then all my classmates. And my grandmother’s sister, and what she’d say. All this in less than a second.

Second time I was a lot more resigned. It was an “ah well, it’s been a good life, whatever. Let’s see what comes next, I’ll just try and make it a head-on collision so maybe my daughter survives in the back seat. Thank God I remembered to tie her. Did I tie her?” – Kaboom! Lasted a lot less than a second.

wildpotato's avatar

How interesting that many of us felt calm and had clear thoughts in a very short space of time.

Supacase's avatar

Two times come to mind.

The first was when I almost drove off a cliff I felt sheer terror, wondered how long it would take them to find me and felt really sad for my family.

The second was the time I had surgery that didn’t come out quite right, but no one knew why. I woke up to about 7 nurses/aides, whatever, in my room pulling me upright by the front of my shirt in the middle of the night because my blood pressure had dropped so low. Then my kidneys decided to take a 70% vacation. I was discharged, but could not eat any food (seriously) for 6 weeks. Water was the worst – I threw up every time. I believe the only thing that kept me alive was the small amounts of iced tea I could keep down. I was completely out of it – the entire month of August 2001 is a big blank space in my life. I was beyond caring or knowing I was dying. I was hospitalized again, going in and out of consiousness, realizing I was probably dying. I was so tired, I just wanted to be done. My mom was beside my bed and I felt so sad and grateful for her. I thought I had been there 2 or 3 days – it was over a week. I started hallucinating at night, actually having conversations with people that I kind of knew weren’t real. (Fat Sally was my favorite lol) Then the night I was supposed to go home, I started vomiting blood. The doctor came in the next day with a flippant, “What was that last night?” By this time I was pissed. He f*cked up my surgery, put me through months of hell and now had the audacity to be cute? I told him if he didn’t know then I sure as hell didn’t and went home.

Well, that ^^ was a novel to say it was surreal and I was so tired I just wanted to go.

augustlan's avatar

I was hit by a car when I was 15. I was crossing a very busy 6 lane street, and I never saw it coming… I was just suddenly laid out on the asphalt. I had experienced recurrent nightmares of being hit by one car, and run over by the next, so my first (and only) thought was “Get up! Get up! Get up!”. So I did. I jumped up and hopped on one leg over to the median, sure that at any second I’d be run over by that evil second car. As you can see, I made it. :)

Jack79's avatar

This situation reminds me of the first time I had to cross a train line. It was not at all dangerous, but it sure felt that way. I was in a rented car and there was this crossing at the middle of nowhere, where a train would pass like every couple of hours. I stopped the car, got out, checked there was no train coming, got back in, slowly approached the train line, double-check and triple-checked…and then of course the engine went off, because I was driving too slow. And hundreds of scenes from hundreds of Hollywood movies flew past, and in the panic I could of course not turn the key (your ridiculously cliched B-movie scenario). It must have taken me several very long seconds to drive over that railway line, all of which I was certain a train was coming.
Luckily I was long gone before the next train came along.

fedupwitcaddys's avatar

WOW, these are very interesting stories. didnt want it to end.
@Jack79 , is that why the rr crossings say do not stop on tracks?

Jack79's avatar

You could have parked on that track, fed. But it did not change the feeling of imminent danger I had that first time. Oh and of course there are red flashing lights, and bars that would come down if a train was coming, but when you’re paranoid you tend to overlook these things.

juwhite1's avatar

Had an emergency landing on a plane one time when the landing gear wouldn’t come down and the hydrolic deals that controlled the wing flaps were broken. All I could think was that I was terrified of how my husband and mother would feel, and that I wouldn’t get to say goodbye. Obviously, I survived the crash landing, but called my husband the instant I could to tell him how much I love him.

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