13 People Who Survived Near-Death Experiences Share What The Afterlife Is Like

One of the greatest unanswered questions about death is whether we are transported to another place after we take our final breath. The concept of heaven has fascinated many - songs exist about it, and it's the subject of many movies. What happens if you go to this plane of existence? Are you aware of who you used to be on earth? Are you someone completely new?

Those who say they've gone to heaven insist there’s a place where people spend the rest of eternity, but almost everyone offers different descriptions. So what is it really like? Depending on whom you ask, there are butterflies (almost too many of them) or rainbow-colored horses. Some visitors to the great beyond claim there are multiple heavens, although they fail to explain the post-life hierarchy that would allow someone to travel between the various forms of the afterlife. Maybe it’s one of those things that can’t be explained, only understood. 

Even if you believe there’s no life after death, and that the only time we’re afforded is what we have now, it’s still interesting to read about people who believe they’ve visited another plane of existence. It’s completely possible some of these deathbed experiences were due to a rush of dopamine and norepinephrine. It’s somewhat comforting to know your final moments of life will be filled with good vibes rather than gut-wrenching pain. But how wonderful would it be if there were actually an afterlife filled with columns of light? It all depends on how you feel about flocks of roaming butterflies. Read on, and then retire to your study to think about your place in the universe. 

Photo: Bram Cymet / Flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

  • Carol Meyer Described Butterflies And Angelic Soldiers

    Carol Meyer was raised as a Christian, but it wasn't until she was in her 60s that she had a vision that would solidify her faith. She was suffering from a life-threatening gastrointestinal disease when she found herself on the edge of forever:

    As I was standing there, this incredible peace overtook me. There were no more earthly emotional holes in my spirit. I was completely whole. It was an incredible feeling. This state of being is no doubt part of the scripture that there will be no tears or sorrow in Heaven. It was a very profound experience.

    Meyer also allegedly saw a large angelic soldier surrounded by millions of butterflies. 

  • Don Piper Saw A Magnificent Gate

    Don Piper, who was pronounced clinically dead after a car crash in 1989, said he traveled to heaven. After paramedics pulled his lifeless body from a four-car pile-up, Piper found himself "standing at some magnificent gates surrounded by people I had known and loved in life. So when I saw them, I knew where I was, because I knew where they were."

    But enough about the gates - does heaven have awesome architecture? As Piper told Bill O'Reilly, "There really are a lot of magnificent structures inside the gate. And at the pinnacle of a great hill beyond them is a bright light." 

  • Julie Papievis Ran Into Her Grandmother In Heaven

    After being T-boned by a teen driver who ran a red light, Julie Papievis found herself in a coma due to a serious brain stem injury, and she wasn't expected to survive. While doctors and her family debated about how to proceed, Papievis became acquainted with the afterlife. She told the 700 Club

    It was so vast, and there was no real beginning or end to it. It was just perfect peace. It was like I was home, and I wanted to stay there.

    But apparently it wasn't her time. As Papievis recalled, "My grandmother said, 'No, you can’t come with us. You have to go back. Go back and be happy.'" Ten years later, she recovered enough to complete a triathlon. 

  • Paramedic Adam Tapp Saw Colorful Shapes And Felt A 'Raw Form Of Consciousness'

    London-based paramedic Adam Tapp never planned to die of electrocution - much less at the young age of 35 - so he's amazingly lucky his "passing" only lasted 11 1/2 minutes. A woodworker in his spare time, Tapp was using an etching device when something went very wrong:

    It was like someone flipped a switch. All my senses were overwhelmed by 12,000 volts of DC electricity. It was one of the most excruciatingly painful things I’ve ever experienced. I remember forcing thoughts like, "I think I’m being electrocuted."

    Despite CPR from his wife, followed by epinephrine and defibrillations from paramedics, Tapp had no heartbeat for nearly 12 minutes, and fell into a coma for six hours. When speaking of his near-death experience after recovering, he recalled feeling a "frequency" wash over him and described seeing what he likened to "gasoline on water with all these geometric shapes and patterns." It was a happy and almost familiar experience:

    All of a sudden, I just woke up in a place that seemingly I’d always been. It was black and it kind of seemed like space... I wasn’t Adam, I wasn’t a paramedic, I wasn’t anything. It was just like this raw form of consciousness where I was just existing very happily and pleasantly.



  • After Mary Neal Died, She Said She Never Felt More Alive

    After drowning on a kayaking trip in 1999, orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal reports she swam up to heaven, where she spent a good 30 minutes before her earthly body was resuscitated. Neal believes Jesus held her as she drowned, and that made her feel "more alive" than she had ever felt. Then she felt her consciousness break away from herself and she was "immediately greeted by a group of beings, spirits, people."

    After gaining her incorporeal bearings, she found herself at a large, arched entryway, and inside she saw "many other spirits, angels, people... all running around. They were all very busy... busy doing God's work." 

  • Colton Burpo Said Jesus Rides A Rainbow Horse

    Heaven is for Real is probably the most famous account of an otherworldly visit, and it comes to us from Colton Burpo, who was only 3 years old when he perished on the operating table during an emergency appendectomy. He allegedly went to heaven, then returned with knowledge of a great-grandfather he never met and an unborn, miscarried sister. He also saw Jesus riding a rainbow colored horse.

    In 2015, Burpo reiterated his claims to Charisma News:

    I know there has been a lot of talk about the truth of other heaven stories in the past few days. I just wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I stand by my story found in my book Heaven is for Real. I still remember my experience in Heaven.