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How can my Life Flash Before my Eyes?

Garry Crystal
Garry Crystal

The well known saying, life flash before my eyes, means different things to different people. For some, it is a simple saying regarding time and how quickly it rushes by. For others, it denotes an actual experience they have had, usually during a near death experience.

Although it can never be proven, people who have survived near death experiences claim the term life flash before my eyes is true. Car crash survivors claim this extraordinary phenomenon happens in the moments during the crash. Time slows down and the person’s entire life is replayed in flash images through their mind.

The life flash before my eyes phenomenon is said to be the brain's coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, such as war.
The life flash before my eyes phenomenon is said to be the brain's coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, such as war.

The images are seen as very quick pictures, and the experience can be recalled after the incident. Thousands of people around the world have reportedly had the life flash before my eyes experience. The experience can happen to anyone at any age. Medical experts think it may be the brain’s reaction as a way of coping with trauma.

Once the accident has happened, or is avoided, the images stop and the slow motion feeling that is experienced returns to normal. Some experts say that during trauma, the brain is deprived of oxygen, which causes this strange occurrence to happen. The last thing we think of is our most precious memories of loved ones as a way to lessen the trauma.

Car crash survivors often claim to have experience their life flashing before their eyes during a crash.
Car crash survivors often claim to have experience their life flashing before their eyes during a crash.

Another strange occurrence that is attached to the life flash before my eyes phenomenon is that no sound can be heard. Everything is said to go completely silent. It is likened to sitting in a very dark cinema with only pictures flashing on the screen. Again, this is said to be the brain's coping mechanism, kicking in to counteract the trauma that is occurring.

Some believe someone's life flashing before their eyes is the brain's reaction to coping with trauma.
Some believe someone's life flashing before their eyes is the brain's reaction to coping with trauma.

The main trouble with the life flash before my eyes theory is that no one can prove it actually exists. It is placed in the same category as the out of body experience. It is a nice thought that the last things seen before death are pictures of our loved ones.

The life flash before my eyes theory is not out of the realm of possibility. Although the theory has to be taken on faith, the brain is a very complex organ. It is capable of many different activities, and there are still parts of the brain that are a mystery even to the medical profession.

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Discussion Comments


I have experienced those flashes that people who had near-death experiences talked about. Luckily, I did not have to be near death to experience it.

It happened to me when I had a panic attack when I discovered to my horror that I had copied the wrong examination time table and I was about to be late for one of my crucial final-exams papers.

While running to the examination hall in full panic, I could 'see' images flashing very quickly through my mind, like flipping through one of those vertical flip desktop calendars. Among other things that I remember seeing were textbook pages that I had merely glanced through months ago, they suddenly appeared so fast and so clearly as if I was reading them again. The images were in full color and every part of the images were in full focus without blur areas. It was as if I was doing what speed-readers called the page-reading which I have never learned or mastered even up until now.


In 2003 (when I was 22), I was doing a lot of cocaine. One night my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest and I was freaking out bad, so a friend gave me a Xanax to calm me down. I guess the mix of the upper with the downer didn't sit well.

The next thing I knew, my whole life started flashing before my eyes in very fast black and white images. I saw myself as a child all the way to my own 1 year old daughter's face smiling at me. I knew I was dead at this point. It was dead silent and I couldn't move my arms or legs. After what seemed like a few minutes, I came out of it and was totally sober. I had no feeling from the cocaine or the Xanax. I remember getting up and feeling like I cannot die this way. I wouldn't want my daughter to find out that her mother died from a drug overdose. I got a second chance at life and it was an eye opening experience for me.


When I was between 10-12 years old, I went to go swim with my nephew. He pulled me underwater for a long time and I was basically drowning. Everything went silenced and I saw my images flash in front of my eyes even of persons that I had never met before.

I'm 26 now and sometimes I think about it. I remember that I was trying to get up for air and he kept pushing me under. When I came up, I was instantly crying. I was a bit in shock. This was my first and only experience (luckily for me).


I had the flashing of my life before my eyes when I made a split second decision when a car was in my lane coming head on towards me.

I went to the shoulder of the road then the car came at me on the shoulder head on and in a split second I realized that I didn't have my seat belt on and all I could do was head down a steep embankment to avoid a head on collision and as I was trying to get my car to stop I had my life flash before my eyes. It happened so quickly. I don't know how I was able to stop my car from sliding into a fence at the bottom of the steep embankment and avoiding a creek, except divine intervention.


I was sitting there, drinking my beer when a car went past. I looked around and I lost my balance, fell back against the wall, with the chair and my drink going with me. But while falling, everything just stopped it wasn't even like slow motion. I heard absolutely nothing and I didn't have any images across my eyes or head. I sub dislocated my neck when landing on my head but apparently that night when I fell, my friends said there was a sharp rock right under where I was sitting, and in that three or four seconds of nothingness, apparently I was moved, according to them, and how someone had moved me -- like an angel, my brother or dad. I don't know what happened that night but I'm sure it was not normal.


I have two explanations: one for the scientist and one for the religious. The brain is obviously not looking into the past for some super solution for the present predicament. You would have observed that all the incidents recounted here belong to the "Urgent" accident situation and not to somebody waiting peacefully on his /her deathbed.

It is entirely possible that the brain, much like the computer shutdown, is saving all the required critical memory for future use, just in case the memory in the normal area is lost forever due to the impending accident.

On the other hand, if the brain is really aware that these are the last moments of this life, then maybe, the most important memories of this life are quickly getting stored into the "Soul" memory which could then carry the past life memories into the future. The silence during the episodes may be due to the lower audio bandwidth getting compressed into the video.


Yes, this is true! I was hit by a car while on my motor bike, and as I spun around in the air, only lasting maybe two seconds, my life starting as a small child flashed before my eyes. I heard nothing and had no emotion about watching this picture clip go by as if someone was throwing down photos of my life. Time had stopped to show me these moments in past time, and as I hit the ground it all stopped.

I was in bad shape, but I knew there and then that I would survive. I've told a few people, but it wouldn't matter either way if they thought it true or not, I know!


This is true. I was in a car accident and had this experience. I was judging my actions and deeds as if in the third person, and was telling myself things like, "Don't do that, because it will cause that (whatever the consequence of the decision was) to happen," but having the feeling of knowing that it could not be prevented, because it was the reality of my life.

The thing that makes my experience different from the ones that I am reading, is that I saw my entire life. I came away from the accident knowing that I would survive, because in the vision I had seen my life past the accident.

I have deja-vu now in reality of the things that are happening in my life right now, because I've seen it in the vision of my life and I am still living it. As I'm living it now, I remember that I've seen it. Is this happening to anyone else who has had these experiences?


I am 37 years old and have had 3 near-death experiences during my life. On each occasion images of my family and friends flashed in my mind like a slide show. I distinctly remember on one occasion that I saw an image of my mother smiling at me and it felt like it was a long forgotten memory from my childhood.

I have no idea why this phenomenon occurs but can genuinely say that it did occur to me when I truly thought I was going to die.


I remember reading somewhere that some scientists think it may happen as the result of a built-in survival mechanism. You're in a life threatening situation, and your brain automatically starts scanning its memory banks super fast, searching for a solution to the current problem.

That makes sense to me, although it doesn't really explain why people see their loved ones smiling and all that. Maybe that's just the stuff people focus on afterward, because of the emotional impact.


Maybe anon19640 is right. While my mind was showing me images of my life to that point (approx eight years old) i was viewing them as though I was an observer, as in a cinema room. even though my eyes were open, I saw nothing but these flashes of my life and no noise.

It felt as though time ceased to exist, there was just that moment in time, no past no future. What I do recall was each image made me feel either good, bad or nothing. If the feelings were bad, it was as though I was feeling what the other person would have felt and as a result of that I felt that i was being judged for all my deeds but also being enlightened to how my actions affected other people.

There was no hiding from the the truth of any of the actions, you new at that level it was wrong and so did those who were observing your judgment. No words were spoken, they did not judge you as such, you did that yourself. They just listened to your thoughts and said nothing. Weird, but interesting too.


This happened to me when I was seven.

I fell from an apple tree at a height of maybe 10 feet, but I thought I was going to die. In a second or two, I had hundreds of images and short "clips" flash before me.

Just to be clear, the images were in my head, and not my actual eyes. They came in no particular order, and it was mostly smiling friends and family who were saying my name or telling me they love me.

I couldn't believe how many of these images were things I had already forgotten. While I thought I was going to die, it was still a feeling of love and joy.

It was the most amazing experience of my life. If I had to think of what heaven was like, that would have been it.


I am a retired Naval Aircrewman, with 6,000 hours flying in various US Navy aircraft. I am a university graduate, and also hold a post-graduate degree.

In 1981, my aircraft was involved in a near mid-air collision with a small private aircraft. My pilot took evasive action.

Our plane port-side stalled toward the San Francisco Bay, and several huge power lines. I remember the ground rushing towards us. With all kinds of chatter on my headphones, everything fell silent, and my entire life (22 years old at the time) flashed before me.

My parents, grandparents, cousins, etc. were all as they were every time I had seen them. I remembered every last detail, colors, faces everything for my entire life.

Most importantly, I saw some really rotten things that I had done in my life. I have never forgotten how terrible I felt about some of the things I had done that hurt others' feelings, and I'm talking about some things from when I was a child.

This experience drastically altered my behavior for the rest of my life.

When our plane finally pulled out of its stall, the sound came back on, but it seemed like an eternity before anyone said anything.

The crewmember sitting adjacent to me looked in my direction and our eyes locked, and I can see this guy's face right this minute, indelibly burned into my memory.

The rest of my career, whenever our paths crossed, we would just lock eyes, smile and not even speak; we didn't have to. We both knew what the other was thinking.


I was riding a motorcycle east on frank phillips blvd. A car darted across between the traffic.

I was seconds away from impact. I looked and there was no avoiding it. I laid the bike down and slid across the pavement. I saw the left front tire coming right for my head. I covered my head and suddenly it was complete silence and my entire life flashed across my brain. It was beautiful.

Then I was back and I heard the skidding tires and the car stopped inches away from my head. When I looked up I saw the underside of the front bumper and the tire was stopped about six inches from my head.


I believe that this experience happened to me. On friday night I hanged myself from a balcony. All I remember consciously doing is looping the rope and stepping off. Then there was nothing and I was having flashing images of my smiling family and friends; it was a bizarre, but also really happy experience.

I was awoken by people yelling and helping me down. It was a rude awakening and for a while I didn't know where I was or what was going on. I hope this helps someone.


It's perfectly possible to prove or disprove these days, that's what neuroscience is for! Out of body experiences have been documented by brain scientists many times. This article is very contentious.


What is the origin of "My life flashed before my eyes?"


Has anyone else ever thought that maybe the paranormal activity that goes on has to do with the "life flashes before my eyes" theory? I have a background in bible and I know that it says "It is appointed unto men once to die, after this, the judgment. Maybe this "judgment" is the total replay of our life on earth and as we go through that replay it sometimes interferes with the real world. Just a thought.

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    • The life flash before my eyes phenomenon is said to be the brain's coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, such as war.
      By: lebanmax
      The life flash before my eyes phenomenon is said to be the brain's coping mechanism for dealing with trauma, such as war.
    • Car crash survivors often claim to have experience their life flashing before their eyes during a crash.
      By: Kadmy
      Car crash survivors often claim to have experience their life flashing before their eyes during a crash.
    • Some believe someone's life flashing before their eyes is the brain's reaction to coping with trauma.
      By: Naeblys
      Some believe someone's life flashing before their eyes is the brain's reaction to coping with trauma.