‘I died and saw afterlife with ethereal garden and ancient men – take me back’

It's the only certainty in life – one day we will all die.

And while it's not the cheeriest of topics, most of us are curious about what happens to us after we shuffle off this mortal coil and go to heaven (or hell – depending on your beliefs).

Doctors can tell us what happens to our bodies after our heart stops beating, but less well known is what happens to our 'soul' when we pass to the other side.

Read more: Most chilling near-death experiences and how those who experience one change

Our only chance of answering that involves listening to those people who believe they have 'died' and then come back to life.

Two women who say they've had a glimpse of the afterlife say they now have no fear of death and would "quite happily die tomorrow".

Both women had their near-death experiences in hospital after undergoing surgery and say that heaven was a "wonderful" place.

One told how she met up with her best friend who had died two years before, while the other said she met Jesus Christ, God, angels and "three really ancient men".

But they were both told that their time wasn't up and they must return to their families.

Jessie Sawyer and Betty Eadie relived their brush with death on America's Inside Edition TV programme.

Spookily, there were similarities between both women's accounts of what happened in the afterlife.

Betty, who is now 78, had her afterlife experience after a hysterectomy operation.

"I was in the recovery room and suddenly felt every drop of blood had drained from my body and then this sensation of my spirit coming out of body at tremendous speed. I looked down and saw my body lying on the bed," she told the programme.

"I knew I had died and thought, oh my God I'm dead."

Betty said she then saw three "really ancient men" who told her she had died.

She told them that she very much wanted to see her family, so she "flew" out the window and went to her house.

"My husband was sitting in the armchair and I stood next to him, I was concerned because he didn't know I had died, nor had my children, and I was worried for all of them.

"But then I was given a glimpse into their futures and saw they'd all lead good lives."

Betty said she then returned to her hospital bed and went into a tunnel and into black space where she felt "extremely relaxed and comfortable".

At the end of the tunnel she was met by a figure. "It was Jesus Christ," she said. "He hugged me and said, it's not yet your time.

"Then three women – angels – appeared and Jesus told them, show her everything she needs to know, and I was taken to the most beautiful garden I'd ever seen, like nothing I'd ever seen on Earth.

"The angels then took me around every planet and then Jesus told me I had to go back to Earth but I didn't want to.

"Then the most beautiful man I've ever seen appeared and it was God and he told me I had to go back and I saw my body and went back into it."

Betty said five years later she told her doctor about the experience and he confirmed that medically she had 'died" for a short time.

She said the experience was so profound that she wants to go back to the other life she briefly experienced.

Mum of two Jessie told how she 'died' aged just 31 after being rushed into hospital with internal bleeding after a gynaecological procedure.

Now, years after the experience, Jessie said she no longer fears death. "I have no fear of dying now, I could die right now and I'd be perfectly OK with it."

Jessie said: "If you'd have told me 10 years ago I would have a near death experience i wouldn't have believed you, I don't even believe in God."

Describing what her 'death' was like, Jessie said: "In the distance I could see a figure and I recognised it as one of my best friends who had died two years before.

"I also saw a bright light and that's when I realised this is death, this is my death."

Jessie said she then saw how her death had affected her husband and two children.

"I was shown how my death would impact my family – that my two children, although grief-stricken, would grow up and have good lives," she said.

Her near-death experience didn't last very long and Jessie said she then saw herself fall back into her body, "which hurt".

Afterwards she told doctors what had happened and they told her she probably had briefly died . "They said I was walking the line between life and death for a while," she said.

Dr Jeffrey Long, an oncologist who founded the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, said the women's accounts of death fitted with what others had told him.

"A common theme for anyone who dies for a short time is the shining light and out of body experience," he said. "Many tell of meeting up with relatives and even pets who have died.

"Yet all of this is impossible because when you die you your brain dies, so this is difficult to explain."

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