A man who died and came back to life after a massive cardiac arrest has painted vivid pictures of what he saw in the ‘afterlife’.Royal Shakespeare Company actor Shiv Grewal, 60 , is holding an exhibition of his artwork – which captures what he believes he saw when the lights went out.
The actor had just finished on an RSC production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing , in which he was playing Don Pedro, when he went into cardiac arrest at home, after dining out with his wife Alison, 50.
Shiv, of Peckham, south east London, recalled how he was technically dead for seven minutes, as paramedics fought to revive him, using CPR, saying: “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.”
Describing his extraordinary experience as being “like a waking dream,” Shiv – who met Alison, who works in communication training, in 2004, while starring in a West End production with her friend – is now keen to show others where we go to when we die, through his highly personal artworks.
He said: “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.”
Previously fit and healthy, Shiv went into cardiac arrest, without any warning, on February 9, 2013, after having lunch with Alison at a local French restaurant, when he said he felt “pretty good.”
But, on the way home, he started feeling tired and was struggling to articulate properly, so went to lie down when they got in, while Alison rang NHS Direct for advice, as he suddenly started to feel very cold.
“That was basically the last thing I remember,” said Shiv.
While Alison was on the phone, his eyes rolled back into his head and she screamed to the operator to send an ambulance.
Arriving within minutes, paramedics were able to restart his heart, but, in the seven minutes when the actor said it stopped, he went on a strange “cosmic journey,” during which he had the power to choose between life and death.
He continued: “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 needed to be proactive. I said I was coming back. I said it as a demand not a request.”
After being rushed into surgery at Kings College Hospital for an operation to put a stent into his fully clogged main artery, Shiv went into an induced coma for a month, because of cerebral hypoxia – oxygen starvation in the brain – which has left him with epilepsy.
Five years on, he has been unable to return to the stage, as he also has problems with his speech and mobility.
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