I had been diagnosed with a fairly rare congenital heart defect, non-compaction ventricular cardiomyopathy, which can have the first symptom be sudden death.
Two of my aunts and one of my cousins all had cardiac arrests. I'd been on beta blockers but had been having v-tach breakthroughs.
The evening of my SCA (sudden cardiac arrest), I was in my garden with 65 other people, celebrating my son's rehearsal dinner. I was sitting with dear friends and family and noticed that my heart was going a bit wonky, and my last thought was that I should probably go to my room to get another beta blocker. The very next thought was literally: Oh! My God! I'm dead!!!
I remember thinking that I should, logically, feel afraid because isn't that what we are all programmed to try to avoid....dying?? But the fear never happened. I was incredibly calm and at peace. I did think that it was a shame that I was going to miss my son's wedding, but I knew that everything was going to be just fine without me.
I then became aware of a mist and light breeze going through me. It was amazing! The light was soft and misty and I felt no need to have a body. I remember actually giggling (if that's possible) that I never had to worry about losing weight, what to fix for dinner or what to wear! It was an amazing event!
It was so very clear to me that we are all connected by life and not just human life. We are at one with all living things, and we all have some awareness of that life. I came away thinking that, as a species, we are self-centered to the exclusion of the rest of lives above, around and under us. The whole universe is connected in this way. I didn't go into space, but I was very aware of the enormity of the universe and that I was part of it.
I was dead for about 10 minutes. My nephew did CPR and chest compressions, and, luckily, we had an AED (automated external defibrillator) in the house. My husband connected me to it and not knowing any better, shocked me 7 + times and actually burned holes in the pads (to say nothing of my chest!). When the paramedics arrived, I had three more shocks to my heart. I was vaguely aware of being somewhat alive, but disappointed that I'd left serenity behind.
After about 15 hours, I began to feel connected to this world again, but found it incredibly difficult to communicate, besides having cracked ribs and second degree burns on my chest. The most difficult part of my recovery was two-fold: (1) not having anyone to talk to and share the experience with, and (2) having to take care of all the family and friends that were traumatized by my death. I kept having to remind them that I wasn't there so couldn't share their pain/trauma. This seemed to go on for months afterwards. Everyone had to tell their story of what had happened...and repeated it often. I just didn't have the mental fortitude and vocabulary to help them through their pain.
I don't know if this is at all relevant, but in the preceding weeks before my SCA, I had hallucinations. (My doc thought it was lack of blood flow to the brain. I don't know.) I would go into a room and there would be small groups of people standing quietly and watching me. For some reason, I wasn't afraid or even mystified. They were just there and seemed benign. I could look right at them and they would move and seem totally real...but I knew they were not real. Also, paintings that we have in the house would be totally different in their frames. Where there used to be a portrait, it would be a landscape, etc. Again, I knew that it was all in my brain and just dismissed it. There was too much going on to bother. The hallucinations continued after my death for a couple of years. I was too embarrassed to talk to my doctors about it (except for my cardiologist who visited me in the ICU) because I was afraid they would think I was crazy! The visions were never frightening or negative....but completely life-like. Who knows??? It has been suggested the people could have been angels...but again: who knows?
Oh! The wedding went off without a hitch and I watched on an iPad from the ICU. All the guests drank champagne. I drank stool softener.