The whole thing occurred within the blink of an eye. The final flash - encompassing everything from a recollection of the past, an understanding of the present, and a sad moment aside to deny the reality of the future. It was the final realization that, as with all realizations, shattered the delusion, the superstition, the fantasy. This realization came upon each character at varying points in their journey onward.
It can be described best by the famed quote from Jacob's Ladder: "If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth."