Death: a process, not a point, says cutting-edge research

Where is the line between life and death? For centuries, it was pretty clear. You stopped breathing, your heart stopped beating, your brain shut down, it was off to the morgue. Well, now the science is showing that the demarcation line for crossing the River Styx may not be quite so clear cut. This piece in The Guardian looks at the latest science of death and near death:

"We are now at the point where we have both the tools and the means to scientifically answer the age-old question: What happens when we die?" wrote Sam Parnia, an accomplished resuscitation specialist and one of the world's leading experts on near-death experiences, in 2006. Parnia himself was devising an international study to test whether patients could have conscious awareness even after they were found clinically dead.

Seems that as the technology evolves, brain death might not be the end of the line — some could still be resuscitated minutes or hours later. 

…scientists learned that, even in its acute final stages, death is not a point, but a process. After cardiac arrest, blood and oxygen stop circulating through the body, cells begin to break down, and normal electrical activity in the brain gets disrupted. But the organs don't fail irreversibly right away, and the brain doesn't necessarily cease functioning altogether. There is often still the possibility of a return to life. 

The science nerd in me finds this fascinating; the science fiction nerd in me is now awake at night spinning out horrific tales of the nearly dead being unceremoniously disposed of while still quasi-conscious. I just decided on cremation.

Previously: Man makes his own `Aztec Death Whistle` and tests it on his family with disturbing results