The recent publication of Glimpses of Eternity by Raymond Moody and Paul Perry has raised awareness of what the authors call "shared death experiences." These are cases in which the visions of the dying person are shared by someone close by. As the authors point out, stories of this type have circulated for many years. Several of them are found in the 1918 book The Ministry of Angels: Here and Beyond, by Joy Snell. (Amazon sells a new edition.)
Snell, who apparently manifested psychic powers from an early age, worked for a while at a hospital, where she was frequently in attendance on the dying. She records various instances of what we might now call SDEs.
Here are some examples from the book. Though written in the florid style that was conventional at the time, they match up pretty well with the more modern accounts collected by Moody:
But whether the deaths I witnessed were peaceful or painful, preceded or not preceded by the recognition of some one from the other world, always, immediately after the physical life had ceased, I saw the spirit form take shape above the dead body, in appearance a glorified replica of it. However painful might have been the last hours, however protracted and wasting the illness, no trace of suffering or disease appeared upon the radiant spirit face. Striking, at times, was the contrast which it presented to the human features, pain-distorted and deep-furrowed by suffering.... [p. 40]
It was about six months after I began to work at a hospital that it was revealed to me that the dying often really do see those who have come from the realms of spirit life to welcome them on their entrance into another state of existence.
The first time that I received this ocular proof was at the death of L------, a sweet girl of seventeen, who was a personal friend of mine. She was a victim of consumption [tuberculosis]. She suffered no pain, but the weariness that comes from extreme weakness and debility was heavy upon her and she yearned for rest.
A short time before she expired I became aware that two spirit forms were standing by the bedside, one on either side of it. I did not see them enter the room; they were standing by the bedside when they first became visible to me, but I could see them as distinctly as I could any of the human occupants of the room. In my own thoughts I have always called these bright beings from another world, angels, and as such I shall hereafter speak of them. I recognized their faces as those of two girls who had been the closest friends of the girl who was dying. They had passed away a year before and were then about her own age.
Just before they appeared the dying girl exclaimed: "It has grown suddenly dark; I cannot see anything!" But she recognized them immediately. A smile, beautiful to see, lit up her face. She stretched forth her hands and in joyous tones exclaimed: "Oh, you have come to take me away! I am glad, for I am very tired."...
[The girl expired very shortly afterward, still smiling at the "angels."]
The two angels remained by the bedside during the brief space that elapsed before the spirit form took shape above the body in which the physical life had ceased. Then they rose and stood for a few moments one on each side of her, who was now like unto themselves. And three angels went from the room where, a short time before, there had been only two. [pp. 41-43]
[Later, Snell recounts the case of a dying father reunited with his previously deceased son.]
Then again I witnessed what had now become a familiar spectacle to me -- the formation of the spirit body above the discarded earthly body. When it was complete the angel child clasped the hand of the now angel father, each gazed into the eyes of the other with an expression of the tenderest affection, and with faces aglow with joy and happiness they vanished. [pp. 46-47]
Such narratives, in themselves, may not prove anything, but the fact that people have been reporting these phenomena pretty consistently for a hundred years or more ought to suggest that something is going on. After all, it's unlikely that most of Moody's informants had ever heard of Joy Snell or other early Spiritualist writers.
It might be argued that the imagery of a spirit form taking shape above a dying person while attended by angels is simply part of the Western mythos, and as such it finds expression in hallucinations. There are at least two responses to this argument: First, one would expect much greater variation in the reports than there seems to be (e.g., appearances by Jesus or the Virgin Mary, etc.); and second, how did this mythos develop in the first place, if not through SDEs, NDEs, and similar events?