Share your story: #WhenIAlmostDied

I host a podcast called Death, Sex & Money, and I want to hear about your near-death experiences — and what happened afterward.

BASE jumper Jeb Corliss was 35 the last time he nearly died.

He slammed into a rock during a jump off of Table Mountain in South Africa. “I didn’t think I was dead. I knew I was dead,” he told me in the most recent episode of Death, Sex & Money. Jeb didn’t die, though. He just broke both legs and had to relearn to walk.

But his accident didn’t make Jeb want to stop jumping off of things. Instead, it made him realize he’d better start planning for the future, if even that crash didn’t kill him. “I’m like, now I need to start thinking about what happens if I don’t die,” he said. “That was actually a scary thought. I was like, that was always my out. My out’s always been death.”

Hearing Jeb’s story made me want to hear more about near-death experiences and their aftermath. So, we’re collecting stories here for a future episode of the Death, Sex & Money. We want to know what happens after a flash of awareness that your mortality is very real.

Share your story: #WhenIAlmostDied

  • What happened? Did you see the danger coming? Was it your fault? Were you alone? Did someone with you not make it? How did you survive?
  • What changed afterward? Did it cause any fundamental shifts in how you were living? Did you become more risk-averse or more willing to take chances in life?
  • How do you remember it now? How often do you think about almost dying? Do you talk about it? Do you look back with regret or gratefulness?
  • Before you publish, be sure to tag your post #WhenIAlmostDied.

When I think about my own death, it’s mostly by way of a quiet background hum, a generalized anxiety about losing time or lacking purpose. It’s not specific or concrete. But near-death experiences make the reality of death visceral and unavoidable, at least for a little while. The few times they have come up on my show, I know that these moments can be incredibly clarifying — though not always in expected ways.

The reality is the dying is the easy part. When something bad happens, you’re going through it and it happens and then you either live or you die,” Jonathan Clark recalled about a plane crash with his wife and son. They survived the crash, but his wife died weeks later in the Columbia shuttle disaster. “The hard part, quite honestly, is living. Whether it’s living in the aftermath of having a lot of injuries to contend with or living in the aftermath of having to be a single parent taking care of a child who’s grieving for the loss of their mother. That’s the hard part.”

I also heard from a Death, Sex & Money listener named Dan about an avalanche that killed his friend while while they were skiing together. “I had and still have a lot of survivor’s guilt and have finally started therapy for it. It took me five years to break down,” he wrote. Dan said that one of the hardest things afterward was hearing people say that at least his friend died doing with he loved:

For me, death has turned into missed opportunities. Unfinished conversations. Plans unfinished. When I hear people say “At least he died….”, it makes me cringe. I’d rather hear about what people dreamed about, goals they made, how those plans were coming, etc. If you’re not building towards something, what are you here for? With accidents, it’s so clear cut. One minute you’re here, the next you’re not.

We want to hear more of these stories. If you know our show, you’ve heard our episodes that weave together our listeners’ stories about the big stuff: cheating, families and siblings, not having sex, and living alone. Now, we want to learn what almost dying has taught you about life.

Once you have published your response, be sure to tweet it out using #WhenIAlmostDied and we’ll share the post too. We may be in touch with you about appearing on an upcoming episode of Death, Sex & Money. If you have any questions for me, email deathsexmoney@wnyc.org.

Thank you for sharing.

Again, your assignment:

Share your story: #WhenIAlmostDied

  • What happened? Did you see the danger coming? Was it your fault? Were you alone? Did someone with you not make it? How did you survive?
  • What changed afterward? Did it cause any fundamental shifts in how you were living? Did you become more risk averse or more willing to take chances in life?
  • How do you remember it now? How often do you think about almost dying? Do you talk about it? Do you look back with regret or gratefulness?
  • Before you publish, be sure to tag your post #WhenIAlmostDied.

Anna Sale is the host and managing editor of Death, Sex & Money, the podcast from WNYC Studios about “the things we think about a lot and need to talk about more.” Subscribe: iTunes Stitcher TuneIn RSS