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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s one of life’s great mysteries – what happens to us after we die.

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Now thanks to a new groundbreaking study we may be closer than ever to finding out.

“I had the sudden realization of ‘Oh my God, I’m dead’,” said Dr. Anthony Ciccoria.

Struck by a bolt of lightning Ciccoria died, at least temporarily.

“It hit me right in the mouth and threw me back like a rag doll,” recalled Ciccoria.

He said what happened next was no less than astonishing.

“I had no human form,” said Ciccoria.

First, he said, he turned into a pure ball of energy and floated above his body.

“That’s when I saw myself on the ground,” Ciccoria said.

Then he became engulfed in what he described as a powerful light.

Click here to watch Brian Andrews’ report. 

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“This bluish, white light was some form of energy and it went through everything, it permeated everything,” said Ciccoria. “I saw and I could actually see the lines of the energy flowing and I was flowing with it. I felt absolutely at peace and loved, and I was ecstatic at where I was going.”

Ciccoria is not alone.

In a recent study, New York researchers tracked two thousand people who died and were resuscitated. Many experienced some form of consciousness about what was happening.

“Amazingly, to our surprise, almost 40-percent of people seemed to have a perception, that they may have had some awareness during the period when they were clinically dead,” said Dr. Sam Parnia.

Among them, some felt they were ‘heading toward a bright white light’ or were ‘engulfed in a soothing sensation’ or saw ‘a beloved pet’. The study found the other 60-percent had no memory of anything happening.

There’s a medical explanation for what people remember, neurons still firing in the brain. Psychologists say wha we hope to be the case could also be a factor.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that wishful thinking could influence what it is that we perceive. Do I think it makes it real? No,” said Dr. Harris Straytner.

Ciccoria insists what he experienced was real and life changing.

“I have no fear of death, absolutely not. Because I know it is not something we are supposed to be afraid of,” said Ciccoria.

Researchers say the more they study the near death experience, the more they will be able to replace fear with knowledge.

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