Actor reveals what it’s like to die after his heart stopped beating for seven minutes

The most important question in the world is this: what happens when we die? It's the ultimate unknown, and unless you believe in seances, it's one that we're unlikely to ever have the answer to. The only way to know for sure is to die yourself, and the thing about dying is, unless you're Jesus, it tends to be pretty permanent. If only we could speak to a real-life Lazarus, someone who went beyond the boundaries of life and death, and came back to the land of the living with a profound and enlightened understanding of mortality. Well I'll let you in on a little secret: that person actually exists. His name is Shiv Grewal, an actor who hails from Peckham, London, and he claims to be able to recall the exact details of the experience of dying, after his heart stopped for seven whole minutes.

Shiv, an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company actor, went into cardiac arrest back in February 2013, after dining out with his partner Allison. First he felt a curious cold feeling all over his body, and then he collapsed on the floor. That's the last conscious memory he has. Allison called the paramedics, who rushed to Shiv's aid; but his heart had already frozen. He was technically dead, and while his rescuers worked to resuscitate him, Shiv claims that he experienced a "waking dream" in a state of limbo. During this out-of-body experience, he says, he was give the choice to reincarnate or return to life.

Actor Shiv Grewal. Credit: Press Association.

Commenting on the incident, Shiv stated: "I had no body as such. I suppose it was a bit like swimming through water, you feel weightless and disconnected from the physical world”, he said ... At one point I was travelling over the moon and I could see meteorites and all of space ... I felt there was a whole set of possibilities, various lives and reincarnations that were being offered to me. But I didn’t want them. I made it very clear that I wanted to return to my body, to my time, to my wife and to go on living."

"I knew, somehow, that I was dead. I was aware my brain was dying and crying out for help. But, at the same time, I felt things completely separate from my body. It was like I was in a void but could feel emotions and sensations. Despite knowing I was dead, I also knew that there was a chance of coming home. I also understood that I’d be reincarnated, but I didn’t want that just yet. I wanted to return to life, to the material world and to my wife. I demanded that I was coming back and I got my wish."

Actor Shiv Grewal. Credit: Press Association

He added: "I’m less fearful of death because of it, but at the same time I’m also more fearful, because I’ve realised how precious everything I have in life is. I’m grateful just to be here. My drive for life has been boosted. I’ve always thought that kindness is essential for humans to evolve and become better, but after this experience, I now feel this very deep inside me – like a fundamental truth."

Now Shiv has unveiled an exhibition of his own art, which he claims is a representation of his near-death experience"Producing the work featured in my exhibition has been part of my recovery, but it also goes beyond that. I have tried to capture what a person experiences when they cross the threshold of non-living and to, hopefully, convey that to others," he stated. Well if dying is anything like what Shiv describes, then maybe we have nothing to fear after all.