Excluding Jesus, knowing what it’s like to die is a phenomenon not known to anyone, but one neurologist has come close to discovering what occurs in the 30 seconds prior to your death.
Dr Cameron Shaw dissected a woman’s brain to shed light on the mystery of what happens in this exact period.
We’ve all heard the rumours; the white light at the end of the tunnel, out of body experiences… seeing a Britain where Theresa May isn’t in 10 Downing Street.
However, the truth of it can be explained by good old science.
Shaw explained the workings of our bodies, which he calls a machine and in particular, how the brain ‘tends to die from the top down, claiming our most human characteristics first’.
He told VICE:
Our sense of self, our sense of humour, our ability to think ahead — that stuff all goes within the first 10 to 20 seconds.
Then, as the wave of blood-starved brain cells spread out, our memories and language centres short out, until we’re left with just a core.
When asked about the white light at the end of the tunnel, Shaw explained the tunnel vision is a common side effect of losing blood supply to the brain.
We know from experience tunnel vision emerges abruptly when you suddenly lose blood supply to the brain.
The first thing you notice in fainting is the narrowing of vision, followed by blackness.
You could argue that’s the way in which death would progress as well because the same mechanisms are in place and it’s an interruption of blood flow to the brain.
So many people experience ‘out of body’ feelings when near death or undergoing surgery and it turns out this is a trick of the mind.
Shaw told VICE how the brain ‘can create a visual world around you, resembling something close to reality – which isn’t reality – because you’re actually blind’.
Research on people who’ve had near death experiences has shown life does flash before their eyes, in a way. Those people explained they were often intense flashbacks from memory.
There’s also a controversial theory how the psychedelic drug, DMT, is released in large amounts from the pineal gland during death’s approach, which could also cause hallucinations.
Whatever happens, I doubt you’d care or even recognise. You could be atop an elephant and still not be aware of the fact as you’re too busy, you know, dying…
I guess we’ll all have to wait and see! Happy Christmas!