About this time of year, neighbors a few doors down from me erect a fairly elaborate Halloween display in their spacious front yard. In addition to carved Jack-O-Lanterns hung as high as 60 feet in the oak tree, about a half-acre of his front yard becomes a faux graveyard filled with plastic headstones, skeletons, scarecrows and, in the past few years, a collection of zombies ready to advance on trick or treaters who dare enter his property. He's also added a PA system, and blares creepy sounds for a few hours after the sun sets.

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There's no doubting or denying that, in spite of the chocolate, candy corn (my fav), popcorn balls, complex yard displays on a cinematic scale, and adults in sexy witch and vampire costumes that Halloween and the following day, All Saints Day is centered around death. If you're reading this, you're going to die one day, and as durable as I am, so too will I.

Death is intriguing. We set aside nearly an entire month every fall to diddle with it.

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Many people fear death. Perhaps our modern celebrations of Halloween help alleviate that fear and, to some, it's just another party - and one where you get to dress up a bit and act a little more foolish via your anonymity in the crowd. But no matter how we laugh, or whether we attend church or believe there's more to our soul's journeys than the here and now, the final physical result for us all is the same.

But will you know when it has happened?

Surely if you're diagnosed with a terminal condition, you'll know more or less when it's coming, but will you know when it happens? Yes, according to a new study from New York University and the Langone School of Medicine.

The study conducted simultaneously in Europe and the US was undertaken (ahem) on people who had suffered cardiac arrest and came back to life. It was the largest study of its kind ever made.

First, death is defined as the cessation of the beating of your heart cutting off blood flow to the brain and, most importantly, the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for thinking and brain stem reflexes like your pupil dilation, gag reflex, and so on.

But now, researchers believe your consciousness lives on and your awareness continues to work, meaning you'll have an awareness of your own death. If your eyes are open, you may see the doctors and nurses moving about the room, you'll hear them pronounce your death, and hear them give a time when you technically died, according to the study.

And this can go on for hours after your heart has stopped beating and your body has ceased to register any facet of physical animation. Dead and You'll Know It. Imagine that. 

Happy Halloween.

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