As conscious and living creatures, fear is an inescapable part of our experience.

Even the most stoic and boldest of people have something that makes their hearts pound. Whether it’s feeling anxiety before a plane flight or unease at the idea of growing old, we are all scared of something.

One thing that binds us all together is the inevitable fact that we will all one day be dead. The alarming thing is, we never know when it’s going to happen, or in what way it will happen.

All we know is that one day our hearts will stop beating – for eternity.

Because death is a permanent state which we cannot reverse or somehow find a way out of, no one can ever say for sure what it’s like to be dead. No one can verify for those of us who are still alive whether or not there is some kind of afterlife; whether or not we have a soul, or if our brain capacity just fades into nothingness.

However, while we cannot say for sure what it’s like to be fully deceased, there are some people in this world who have firsthand experience of what it is like to die.

How is this possible you ask? Well, it’s because of a little phenomenon called near-death experience.

And perhaps you yourself know someone who has had a brush with death – it’s probably not as uncommon as you think.

So, what is it like to die? Does it conform with the age old stereotype of life flashing before your eyes? Is it painful? Is it like slowly fading into nothingness?

Well, luckily with the internet, stories of near-death experiences are easily shared with the rest of us mere mortals.

Recently on the popular question-and-answer site Quora, a thread was started for the sole purpose of allowing those who had been spine-chillingly close to death to share their experiences.