Theories about the afterlife vary greatly between cultures and religions.
Some believe life goes on after death and others are convinced life as we know it ceases to exist when once the pulse stops.
Some of the world’s leading religions agree humans are not tied to the Earth for eternity but will be granted some form of eternal afterlife by the side of their maker after death.
Atheists, on the other hand, reject this notion on the grounds there is no scientific evidence to suggest any ethereal aspect to life.
Others might believe in the cosmic wheels of karma and reincarnation by which the human spirit starts over in a new body after death over and over again until the cycle is broken by reaching Nirvana.
The concept of reincarnation is heavily present in in major Asian religion such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.
But what about the medical community? Where does science stand on life, death and the afterlife?
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) recognises death as a complex thing to diagnose due to a number of factors which have expanded over the years.
Through the power of modern medicine and technology it is possible to keep a heart beating even after the brain stem has permanently ceased to function – but does this constitute living?
Once brain death occurs, there is no viable way of reversing the irreparable damage and the heart will eventually fail despite the use of ventilators.
On the operating table, death typically occurs as a result of heart failure, when the muscle no longer pumps vital oxygenated blood to the brain.
But afterwards, there might be some evidence to suggest human consciousness remains during death, even if for a short while.
Medical experts at the NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City, said in December 2017, patients still experience some form of awareness in the initial stages of death.
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Dr Sam Parnia, Langone, said people whose hearts have stopped and were successfully restarted on the operating table could recall the bustling nurses and doctors trying to save them during heart failure.
He said: “It’s all based on the moment when the heart stops. Technically speaking, that’s how you get the time of death.”
The phenomenon is commonly known as a near-death experience (NDE) and usually involves people recollecting voices, seeing their life flash before their eyes or reaching out for a bright light at the end of a long dark tunnel.
A study conducted across 15 hospitals in the UK, USA and Austria looked at NDEs between 2008 and 2012 to asses the validity of these claims.
Out of 140 people questioned after suffering cardiac arrest about 39 percent or 55 of them recalled something from the time they were unconscious.
We know that people’s cultural beliefs influence how they interpret their perceptions
Thirteen of the patients reported feeling separated from their body, 22 said they felt at peace and 13 said their senses felt sharper than usual.
However, a breakdown of the study by NHS Choices said: “It is perfectly plausible that people would continue to have thoughts and experiences while there is still oxygenated blood flowing to the brain.
“Overall, this study provides no evidence to support the existence of an afterlife, merely that people near death may still have memorable experiences.”
The topic of the afterlife was also breached by a panel of experts at the University of Virginia in 2017, who looked at 50 years of medical data to draw some conclusions.
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Dr Bruce Greyson, Chester F Carlson Professor Emeritus, said: “Another important question about retrospective reports of NDEs is whether they’re influenced by cultural beliefs.
“We know that people’s cultural beliefs influence how they interpret their perceptions. We see what we expect.
‘For example near-death experiences in third world countries do not talk bout entering a tunnel the way Americans do, they may talk about entering a cave or a well.
“One truck driver who I interviewed talked about entering a tailpipe, so you have to use whatever cultural metaphors are at your disposal to describe the phenomenon.”
Questions of out-of-body experience, the afterlife and the prospect of batter life at the end of the tunnel remain gripping ones but there is little evidence to suggest life after death is real.