A bright light, inviting presence of a tunnel, and calming inner peace are just a few of the remarkably similar experiences that have greeted those who have died and been resurrected. Are these visions merely a trick of the mind, a verifiable cerebral response, or genuinely spiritual in nature? The medical community, which was long been skeptical and dismissive of these claims, has begun to devote more resources to uncovering the truth behind near-death experiences.
The template for our understanding of near-death experiences comes from one of the film's interview subjects - Dr. Bruce Greyson. Beginning in the early 1980s, he recorded the accounts of many patients who had survived death, and placed the shared elements of each of their stories on what was to become known as the Greyson Scale. Subjects offered tales of levitation outside of their physical bodies, awareness of their own demise, and a general feeling of acceptance and peace in response to these profound transitional events.
The prominence of this study empowered others to come out with their own similar stories, and led researchers to a conduct additional investigations in this arena. The filmmakers profile one such study involving cardiac arrest patients who were officially pronounced brain dead prior to their resuscitation. Doctors wanted to pinpoint the precise moment these visions of an afterlife took place. While they were unsuccessful in their ultimate goal, they did receive numerous testimonies that could not be explained or dismissed.
Researchers had better luck in what is by far the most gripping anecdote featured in the film. A young mother underwent an intensive procedure to remove a deadly brain aneurysm, during which she was rendered completely lifeless for over an hour. When the woman awakened, she reported an out-of-body experience during her surgery which allowed her to detail many of the goings-on in the operating room with stunning accuracy. How was this possible when her eyelids were sealed shut and she harbored zero brain activity throughout the duration of her procedure?
The Day I Died touches upon an endlessly fascinating and confounding phenomenon of the human experience.