A woman who was clinically dead for 24 minutes after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest has shared her astonishing experience of what she saw and felt during that time.

Lauren Canaday, a 39-year-old author from Virginia, went into cardiac arrest at her home in February 2023, while she was recovering from COVID-19. Her husband, who heard her say “oh s***” before collapsing, called 911 and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived.

It took four defibrillator shocks and 24 minutes to restore her heartbeat, during which she was technically dead. She was then rushed to the hospital, where she spent nine days in the ICU and tested positive for COVID-19.

Doctors diagnosed her with myocarditis, a condition that inflames the heart muscle and can impair its pumping ability. They speculated that the cardiac arrest might have been triggered by the COVID-19 infection, which has been linked to increased risk of heart problems.

Canaday, who has been on medication for controlled epilepsy for years, said she had no memory of the week before the cardiac arrest or the two days after it, when she was in a coma. She also said she did not experience the common near-death phenomena of seeing a bright light or her life flashing before her eyes.

Instead, she described feeling “extreme peace” and “a sense of knowing” that she was not alone. She said she saw “colors and shapes” that were “beautiful and calming”, but not recognizable as anything in the physical world.

She also said she heard a voice that told her “it’s not your time” and that she had a choice to stay or go back. She chose to go back, because she wanted to see her husband and her dog again.

She said she felt a “jolt” in her chest and then woke up in the hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses. She said she was grateful to be alive, but also missed the feeling of peace she had while she was dead.

She said she wanted to share her experience to help others who might be going through something similar or who have lost a loved one. She said she believes that death is not the end, but a transition to another state of being.

She also said she hopes that her story will raise awareness about the importance of learning CPR and having access to defibrillators, which can save lives in cases of cardiac arrest.

She said she is now recovering well and working on a book about her experience, titled “Independence Ave: How Individualism Killed Me and Community Brought Me Back”. She said she hopes that her book will inspire people to live more compassionately and connectedly.

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