The cycle of life is a universal human experience that every person follows: we are conceived and enter the world from a mother's womb, live a life, and eventually die. Every living and breathing person is aware that they will one day pass away, but there still remain so many unanswered questions about death.
What does it feel like to die? What does the afterlife look like, and where do our souls go? While there are some things that we may never find out till it's our turn to pass,, science has revealed a brand new discovery about death.
The Mind Versus The Body
Just like philosophers have been studying the meaning and truth of life since the beginning of time, scientists have been hard at work attempting to discover insight on death. Recently, research has revealed the breakthrough fact that when we die, our brains are aware of what's going on.
The mind and the body are two entities that work together but exist separately. By studying and observing patients undergoing the process of death, doctors have begun to understand that even when the body is failing and deteriorating, our brain will still actively work for some time following our death.
The Power Of The Brain
Dr. Sam Parnia has contributed great work to the study of death, and he describes the pronouncing of the deceased as, "technically speaking, that's how you get the time of death — it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops."
When an individual experiences cardiac arrest, their heart becomes unable to pump blood throughout the body, causing the human anatomy to shut down before that person has truly died. This causes the brain to hold on and function a little bit longer, changing the course of death that we believed to occur all at once.
Observations Of Conciousness
Lab rats are often used to better understand the science of humans, which is why animals can provide important insight into our own anatomy. Scientists have explained that brain activity in animals commonly shows a sudden increase shortly after they die, which has led to the certainty that the human brain is also awake at the moment of death.
Dr. Parnia reveals that according to medical staff's observations of dead patients who remain surprisingly conscious, "They'll describe watching doctors and nurses working; they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them."
A Universal Experience
Dr. Parnia has been working on an ongoing study throughout the United States and Europe to further his knowledge of the body's reaction to death. Learning the connection between the organs of the heart and the brain is not simply a medical fact. But instead, these revelations are powerful tools that can help humanity feel more comfortable in the fate of their spirits.
"In the same way that a group of researchers might be studying the qualitative nature of the human experience of 'love,' for instance, we're trying to understand the exact features that people experience when they go through death because we understand that this is going to reflect the universal experience we’re all going to have when we die."
Consciousness After Death
Although Dr. Parnia has provided the world with scientific meanings behind the end of our lives, he's not the first doctor to lead the path on this discussion. Medical staff from an intensive care unit in Canada revealed that one patient was observed to show signs of consciousness for up to 10 minutes once taken off life support and was technically believed to be dead.
Parnia states the significance of these experiments: "At the same time, we also study the human mind and consciousness in the context of death, to understand whether consciousness becomes annihilated or whether it continues after you've died for some time — and how that relates to what’s happening inside the brain in real-time."
A Unique Experience For Everyone
The reality is that: some people experience ongoing brain activity following their death and others don't. Even in patients who show brain electricity circulating through their final moments, it's still true that once a patient is dead, there's no coming back.
This discovery simply means that some of us will get to watch ourselves die like we're in a movie scene, and others will close their eyes to life within an instant. All of this concludes that no measure of science will be able to pin down one simple experience of death, because just as we all live unique lives, we'll all die in our own unique way.
Nothing To Fear
The idea of death is something that many people find difficult to wrap their heads around. To many, the thought of our brain and heart shutting off forever may sound like impending doom, but the underlying truth is that there's nothing to be afraid of.
Death is a natural part of the existence of all living things. Our bodies are not meant to last forever. But, believing that the transition from the physical form on earth to our souls transcending into the universe is a path already planned out for us can help ease our anxieties about the great unknown.
All That We Know About Death
We know a few things for sure: the first is that we're all born to die and that death is inevitable, the second is that no one knows how they're going to die, and the third is that death occurs differently for everyone.
While science is evolving to provide us with more and more answers about life and the existential questions surrounding it, the truth is that we won't be able to understand death until we individually experience it. But for now, research is like a hug that comforts us in the uncertainty about the human experience.
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