There are advancements made in medicine everyday, all over the the world. Which means while twenty years ago someone whose heart stopped would be pronounced dead, today, they can be revived, even after a half an hour of being clinically dead.
The ability to bring someone back when technically they were gone raises some pretty interesting (and complicated) questions. Most obviously, where did they go? Most often, this is called a Near Death Experience or NDE.
One researcher, Kenneth Ring, separated the NDE into five stages:
1) feelings of peace and contentment,
2) a sense of detachment from the body,
3) entering a transitional world of darkness (rapid movement through a long dark tunnel: "the tunnel experience"),
4) emerging into bright light, and
5) "entering the light."
In his research, however, he found that 60% of people who reported having an NDE experienced stage one, but only 10% experienced stage five. The idea of going through a tunnel towards a bright light is one that most people have heard so it is possible it could just be an expected part of the experience. But, I think, the reason only 10% of the people entered the light is because once you enter this light, you have crossed to the other side, making it impossible to return to your body. It is also possible that the experience is different for everyone, and some people simply never enter the proverbial light.
Death is a subject that is on everyone's mind at one time or another considering, eventually, we are all going to die. It is only natural to wonder what is going to happen when that time comes. That may be why there is an International Association of Near Death Studies. It was started in 1978 by doctors and medical and psychological researchers who wanted to know more about the phenomenon. Now, there is more research and information on the subject than I can even begin to describe or fully understand.
There are scientific explanations for NDE's. Some skeptics believe they are only hallucinations the brain is creating in response to a trauma. I suppose you have to belive in the existence of Heaven and God if you are going to believe anything at all happens when you are dead so a lot of atheists are more likely to think NDE's are nothing but a dream.
I think Near Death Experience's can give us insight into the afterlife but it is also hard to know if the information people bring back is accurate. We will never truly know what death is like until it happens to us and maybe it is better that way. I'm not sure I really want to know all the details before it happens. It's not something we can control, why worry about it?
I don't know about anyone else, but death is one thing I don't need to know everything about before it happens. I'm more than happy waiting sixty years before I enter the light.