Artist died for SEVEN minutes before coming back to life

Is THIS what the afterlife looks like? RSC actor who was ‘dead’ for seven MINUTES after suffering a massive cardiac arrest paints pictures of what he saw before being resuscitated

  • Shiv Grewal, 60, of Peckham, suffered a massive heart attack in 2013
  • Medics worked for seven minutes to revive the RSC actor 
  • Describes experiencing a ‘cosmic journey’ while his heart had stopped 
  • Was put into an induced coma for a month after being revived  
  • Now paints to communicate what you experience when you ‘cross the threshold’ 

An actor who was brought back to life by medics seven minutes after suffering a massive cardiac arrest now paints pictures of what he saw before being resuscitated.  

Shiv Grewal, 60, had just finished starring as Don Pedro in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado About Nothing when he had a massive heart attack at home in Peckham, after a meal out with his wife Alison, 50.  

Shiv, who was put in an induced coma for a month after being revived by emergency service workers, said of the several minutes during which his heart had stopped beating: ‘It was like I was in a void but I could feel emotions and sensations.’

Five years on the actor turned artist, who said he ‘chose’ to come back to his wife, describes seeing ‘meteorites and space’, all of which now inspires his work, which he says aims to capture ‘what a person experiences when they cross the threshold of the non-living.’ 

Performer Shiv Grewal, 60, of Peckham, had just finished on a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, when he went into cardiac arrest at home, after dining out with his wife Alison 

Now Shiv, seen with Alison in hospital, paints pictures inspired by the ‘cosmic journey’ he went on during the minutes his heart had stopped beating  

Shiv was put into a medically induced coma due to his brain being starved of oxygen in the minutes after his heart attack. 

He had to relearn to walk and talk, and still suffers with speech and mobility problems that mean he hasn’t been able to return to the stage. 

He said of the moment he collapsed: ‘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.


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‘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.’

Shiv, who says he ‘chose’ to come back to his wife, was then put in an induced coma for a month

Shiv, who met Alison, who works in communication training, in 2004, while starring in a West End production with her friend, describes the experience as being ‘like a waking dream’.

He 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.’

He was forced to gradually relearning how to walk and talk again over the next five years (seen with his walking stick)

Shiv at a House of Lords fundraiser to help raise money for awareness around cardiac arrest

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, she said his eyes rolled back into his head and she screamed to the operator to send an ambulance.

The artist recalled how he was technically dead for seven minutes, as paramedics fought to revive him, using CPR (Shiv seen in intensive care)

Shiv is seen perfecting one of his pieces, which he said aims to communicate what a person experiences when they ‘cross the threshold’

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.

On his long road to recovery, Shivinder has found art an extremely therapeutic way to document what he saw during his brief encounter with death

Five years on, he has been unable to return to the stage, as he also has problems with his speech and mobility

Five years on, he has been unable to return to the stage, as he also has problems with his speech and mobility.

On his long road to recovery, Shivinder has found art an extremely therapeutic way to document what he saw during his brief encounter with death.

The artist, who will be showing the resulting works at an exhibition called Reboot at The Sanctum Hotel in London’s Soho, from August 15 to September 24, said: ‘I remembered everything that happened when my heart stopped and have tried to translate it into art.

‘My works act as a map to rediscovery and to understanding my experience.’

Describing himself as ‘scientifically-minded’ and a ‘natural cynic,’ nevertheless, Shivinder says his experience has cemented his belief in an afterlife

(Shiv with fellow actor and former Eastenders star Nabil Elouahabi)

Describing himself as ‘scientifically-minded’ and a ‘natural cynic,’ nevertheless, Shivinder says his experience has cemented his belief in an afterlife.

‘I’m less fearful of death because of it, but at the same time I’m also more fearful, because I’ve realised how precious everything I have in life is,’ he said.

‘I’m grateful just to be here. My drive for life has been boosted. I’ve always thought that kindness is essential for humans to evolve and become better, but after this experience, I now feel this very deep inside me – like a fundamental truth.

‘Producing the work featured in my exhibition has been part of my recovery, but it also goes beyond that. I have tried to capture what a person experiences when they cross the threshold of non-living and to, hopefully, convey that to others.’

The artist, who will be showing the resulting works at an exhibition called Reboot at The Sanctum Hotel in London’s Soho

Shiv had just finished a production of Much Ado About Nothing before the fateful day (seen on stage)

 

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