- Nearly half of people leave their bodies and 20 percent see deceased loved ones
- Dr Jeffrey Long’s research reflects thousands of experiences in 30 languages
- READ MORE: People with near-death experiences had no quality of life changes
PUBLISHED: 16:17 BST, 29 August 2023
Seeing a bright light or hovering as a spirit over one’s own body have become cultural tropes to describe near-death experiences.
Dr Long, a former skeptic, argued that years of researching the similarities among different accounts of people’s brushes with death have upended his own beliefs about a possible afterlife.
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He has so far collected more than 5,000 accounts in over 30 languages from people of various religions and cultural backgrounds.
Dr Jeffrey Long [pictured] is a radiation oncologist who said that studying over 5,000 accounts of near-death experiences has permanently upended his beliefs about life after death. Over 45 percent have out-of-body experiences and around 75 percent would want to stay in the afterlife
Dr Long established an online repository for people to detail their own brushes with mortality.
They include many stories, such as one from a person who was led by a robed figure to a field where deceased loved ones were sitting, while another witnessed an orb of light leave her chest, hover for a moment, and zoom out of the room.
Thirty-seven years ago, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association piqued Dr Long’s interest in what the authors were calling near-death experiences, something they presented without clinical or medical explanation.
Dr Long told Insider: ‘It stopped me in my tracks. All my medical training told me you were either alive or dead. There was no in-between. But suddenly, I was reading from a cardiologist describing patients who had died and then came back to life, reporting very distinct, almost unbelievable experiences.’
He described a near-death experience as a person who is either comatose or clinically dead without a heartbeat while still having a lucid experience in which they feel emotions, see, and hear, as well as interact with other beings.
He has reportedly assessed thousands of anecdotes, all of which are strikingly similar regardless of the person’s belief system, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or atheist.
In 1998, he and his wife established the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, whose website allows people from around the world to document their own spiritual and out-of-body experiences.
One user named Harry said: ‘The bits of light closest to me were my parents, grand-parent, family who all passed before – and connected to them farther away were close friends, and connected to them were people who had influenced me and whom I had influenced.’
Another named Star wrote: ‘A pure, brilliant light engulfed me and I no longer had a physical body. But, I still existed? I had no eyes to see but I looked at everything around me. I was in the center of a vast nothingness, but the nothingness was not empty. It was completely filled with the presence of the living God.’
And from Italy, a user named Sarah said: ‘These three pure Beings spoke to me in a different language. They used my thoughts but it was different than thoughts… I already knew that by being by their side, everything was coming back to me. They gave me so much love… I didn’t want to leave, but I had to go back. That’s how it had to be.’
Nineteen patients admitted to the University of Liege hospital in Belgium had a near-death experience including feeling disconnected from oneself, feeling little to no pain, and feeling uncertain about who they were and increased spiritual and personal well-being.
Through his decades of research, Dr Long has concluded that about 45 percent of near-death experiences include a sense of being out-of-body, in which people’s consciousness is separated from their physical being.
About three-quarters of those who experience this reported wanting to stay in the afterlife because of the immense love and joy that overtook them. More than half report seeing a ‘heavenly’ realm and around a quarter of them are enveloped in light or mist.
This also means, he added, that nearly 100 percent of those who have a brush with death no longer fear it.
His research has permanently altered the way that Dr Long cares for his patients. Previously, he would not mention his research into this particular field, but if his patients want to talk about it, he does not hold back.
Dr Long said: ‘I tell them that based on my research, I’m very confident that there’s a wonderful afterlife for all of us and that we will be reunited with our deceased loved ones. And that’s profoundly reassuring to them. To me it’s a blessing to be able to share that with them.’
He added that it has helped him to be a better doctor who helps his patients address life-threatening diseases with ‘increased courage and passion.’
‘My goal is to help them have more healthy days here on Earth. But I firmly believe that if and when they pass, they will be at peace.’