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When my Maternal grandfather passed back in 1979 I remember being in the hospital room. I was frustrated and remember saying "damn" a few times. He just labored and then his breathing slowed and stopped. I went to my grandparents mobile home where I also lived and was napping or right in between the sleeping and waking stage. There he was with a suitcase. He looked good and I said "granddaddy where are you going?" He said "I'm going on a trip." I have to tell you that brief vision changed and contributed to the changing way I have viewed life and death since that time. It gave me comfort and hope.

"Nearly 50% of the dreams and visions occurred while the patient slept". So over 50% weren't sleeping, therefore they weren't in any ordinary use of the word dreams. When this report came out originally i noticed the author's insistence on using the word dream throughout for things which have always been portrayed in the literature as anything but. And I wonder whether this is him imposing his own non-spooky interpretation on it, or whether he's in fact wording it solely to avoid the scorn of his peers as any other term might suggest a belief on his part in in literal visitations.

Though i appreciate there may be a middle ground between a waking and sleeping experience. My own brother when diagnosed with terminal cancer reported the following event.

While aware it couldn't have been physically, objectively, real, he insisted it was nonetheless something other than a dream.
"They woke me at 6 to give me the strong pain killers, they do every morning. Didn't get back to sleep so lay on the bed with eyes closed. Must have eventually dozed off, found myself sitting on a chair. I was informed I had a visitor (or made aware I had one), looked around and dad walked in. He looked amazingly well, seemed younger than me. He was wearing an olive green zip up jacket and carrying a collapsed umbrella in his left hand..and his face looked wet and red like he'd walked in out of the rain. I simultaneously thought/said what are you doing here/u look great then I think I deliberately woke myself up because it was too vivid. Just happened. 6.30ish."

On the phone and in subsequent texts his emphasis was on his astonishment at how well my dad a hollywood version of himself..and claimed he'd never heard before, as I told him, that it was a standard claim in such reports that the dead look young and healthy.

Our father never carried an umbrella and the wet face as if coming in from the rain is an intriguing detail. I'd be very interested to know if its one that appears in other people's accounts.

I volunteered for several years at our local not-for-profit community run hospice house. It's free to residents of the county. Everyone who works there with the residents is a volunteer except a night shift nurse and a day time nurse. I always volunteered in the evenings between the day nurse and night nurses' shifts. I saw a lot of residents come through the house and have been there when several have died. Sometimes the resident's stay would be as short as a couple of days before they expired and sometimes a month or more. So I got to know a lot of them fairly well.

I hate to be the party pooper, but I never had any resident describe the kinds of experiences in the Buffalo study. Maybe they didn't like me or trust me for some reason - or they had someone who was just closer to them to discuss these matters with. However, I never really witnessed behaviors that could be ascribed to the resident communicating with other worldly beings either.

We didn't drug them too heavily as far as I know. I handed out the meds on my shift. If they wanted it, I gave it to them, but many didn't want it (which surprised me). So I don't think that being zonked out is a fair explanation.

Actually, it is amazing to me how many would watch banal shows on tv right almost up to the moment of death (and a few times at that moment).

That said, I have seen some weird stuff right after someone died; watches stopping, lights flickering, weird crackling noises coming through the intercom system, one time loud knocks and pings in a room where the deceased's body was lying in bed. Noises and happenings that normally didn't occur.

So I don't know - my sense is that you actually need a large sample size to get a decent volume of these visions. Our little hospice only has two beds and their not always full. So maybe that is the problem where I volunteered + maybe simply not confiding in me personally for various reasons.

I am so much more interested in this stuff than UFOs! LOL! Art loves him some deathbed visions, nearing death awareness, and takeaway visions. In fact there is just something about them that strikes me as "true" or real.

I like or enjoy reading stories about deathbed visions more than reading NDE descriptions. They are so down to earth and understandable. They don't usually have a lot of extra interpretation associated with them like NDEs oftentimes do.

I find them endlessly comforting and comforting. I mean what could be better than to believe that when you die you are met by your deceased loved ones? That my mom, who I haven't seen in 51 years now, will be waiting for me?

I have watched Dr. Kerr's TED talk a couple of times now and also there are some other videos of other people talking about deathbed visions. I will buy Dr. Kerr's new book when it comes out. I'm sure it will be a good read.

Okay, for those of ya'll who wonder about if your beloved pets will be there to greet you in the afterlife. This is a quote from the article about a young girl with cancer who saw her deceased dog. They showed a picture of this young lady. These two stories definitely answer the question in my head about if the animals we have shared our lives with will be waiting for us on the other side. Yes, they will!

"Jessica Stone, bottom, with her mother Kristin. Ms. Stone, who died of Ewing’s Sarcoma, spoke movingly about a dream of her dead dog, Shadow."

and I also love this story from the message board in a thread about deathbed visions,

"We had a 35 year old with down syndrome and heart failure. She was doing very well, but one day her sister called in a panic. The pt had started talking about a cat being in her home. Her sister was sure she was hallucinating. So we went to see pt, and after talking to her it became clear that this was not just any cat. This was Patches, the pt's cat who she had grown up with and who had died 18 years earlier. This pt was insistent on us feeding patches, getting a litterbox, etc. We mentioned to the family that we sometimes see this kind of thing at the end of life, but no one really took it seriously because the pt was doing so well. She died suddenly 5 days after Patches showed up."

So yes, I believe deathbed visions and nearing death awareness is real and it just sounds like something that would be allowed even though we aren't supposed to know for sure that there is an afterlife...

Interesting that Eric never saw any such claims or interactions during his hospice work. Just as a ley person anytime ive recounted my mother's apparent DBV to anyone in conversation they will return with one of their own from their own family. It seems absurdly common. Which is not to say its universal (or universally witnessed), but its certainly far from unusual it seems.

It was reading and knowing about these phenomena that alerted me to the imminence of my mum's demise. No one had said she was dying of anything, though old age and multiplying physical ailments and mental detachment lead me to my own assumptions that she was going through the process. What confirmed it for me enough to alert my siblings to get to the house in time to be with her was that that the care workers who washed her in the morning reported her cheerfully saying "I've just been down the road with Gerry. It was lovely." This was a double whammy of end of life phenomena as far as i was concerned. Firstly speaking in clear english sentences was no longer possible for her..her ability to converse in intelligible words had vanished over the preceding months and years. This would be an example of terminal lucidity, though im sorry to say i didn't personally witness it. Secondly Gerry was my late father. Talking of going on journeys with deceased loved ones and of beautiful locations are a standard account in the literature of DBV. I texted my siblings to inform them i think they need to get here.. and she passed away later that day with all around her.

Later I told my next door neighbour. She said when her father was dying he was waving at someone behind her. Asked who he said "your mum is standing over there"

I told the sister of my mum's deceased best friend. She said when said friend was dying she pointed to her already dead husband in the room.

I told a friend. He said when his mother in law was in hospital and they said they would see her tomorrow, she replied she wouldn't be here tomorrow. She died in the night.

I run an Airbnb and occasionally get into such conversations with guests. When I do they always have stories to tell. One man said when his wife was in hospital with cancer, on the last day, he was alone with her in the room when a electrical tingle went down his arm and the room filled with light which lasted several seconds and she took her last breath. He said it was a long time before he told anyone about it.

Another recent guest says as he and his mother sat either side of his dying grandmother's bed he half dozed and woke to see the - to him - clearly identifiable silhouette of his deceased grandfather at the foot of the bed.

Interestingly with regard to my mother's last words i found a near identical turn of phrase in an incident recounted in the famous book Final Gifts by the hospice nurse Maggie Callanan. A patient who had not spoken for days apparently said while Maggie was out of the room and immediately before dying "I've seen the light down the road. It's beautiful"

Lawrence B,
"Interesting that Eric never saw any such claims or interactions during his hospice work"

Thinking about this some more...maybe the residents talked to their family or close friends about these matters and not to the staff. I mean the staff is mostly strangers that they see once or twice a week. Being a small community, some residents and some staff knew each other previously, but there is almost always someone closer who visits them and/or is with them at or near the end.

We weren't supposed to bring up any religious, spiritual or paranormal topics unless the residents opened the conversation on their own, and then we were supposed to just listen for the most part. So I never asked anyone if they were seeing visions, etc. Maybe if I had, they would have told me about having these experiences.

There were some residents that appeared to be demented and lost in hallucinations. Maybe they were actually talking to spirits, but we'd never know that. All of those residents were beyond the capacity to communicate coherently. BTW, I never saw any terminal lucidity either.

Hey Lawrence, "Final Gifts" by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly is one of my favorite books! I've read through it twice. Also another one of my favorite books is "Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms" by David Kessler. Both books are great and I highly recommend them. Both are very uplifting and comforting and they can be bought for pretty cheap used from Amazon.

The hospice workers who handled my father's case seemed pretty nonchalant about deathbed visions etc. I had the impression this was an old story to them. They almost talked like Spiritualists, saying things like, "He may seem to not be there, but he’s actually more alive than he’s ever been."

At a bookstore some years ago I saw two women who identified themselves as hospice nurses asking for John Edward's book, Crossing Over. I think a great many people who work with the dying have experienced these things.

Though I didn’t personally witness anything of this sort in my parents' last days, I do know an oncologist whose father, just before expiring, joyfully reported that some people all dressed in white were there to take him away. The oncologist derived a great deal of comfort from this.

At our hospice, pretty much everyone who worked there knew about unusual happenings after death (I mentioned a few). It's all commonly and casually accepted. So there's not a lack of belief in or acceptance of the "paranormal"; albeit these subjects were discussed infrequently and in hushed tones.

There are no religious or spiritual books in the house. There is a single copy of Elisabeth Kubler Ross' original book on a shelf stuck between the cheap romance novels and old National Geographic editions.

As I said, discussion with the residents of religion, spirituality, anything close to those topics was prohibited unless the resident brought it up and then the direction was only to engage in active listening. Maybe we're cheating the residents by presenting an atmosphere closed to some important topics. The residents may feel like they can't confide in us and, like I said, they resort to close friends and family. Now that I think of it, residents are usually told to have a priest, rabbi, etc. visit them if they want to talk about spiritual issues. The visits usually occurred during the day when I wasn't there. So I don't know what was discussed. Maybe they talked about their visions. On that note, I always found it odd how very few had clergy at their side when they actually died (e.g. last rites). I think it is a strange hospice setting based on what I consistently hear from others with experience in other locations.

My grandfather, a cement finisher who could barely write his name and not inclined to discuss dreams, emotions etc., one time when he was in his early 90s he had a health crisis for which he was hospitalized. After returing home he motioned to me and said he wanted to tell me about a dream he had had.. Now, this was not something he would normally do. He went on to say that when he was in the hospital he had a dream where a woman dressed in white came to visit him. He thought, because she was all in white that they were going to get married. The scene changed apparently as he then described playing cards (he was an avid card player). He had to make a choice between playing an ace of spades or a heart. Apparently he made the right choice as he recovered.

I don’t think this is a very detailed NDE but for him, it was his way of describing something he experienced in the only way he knew how. He was not a spiritual or religious man, at least he didn’t appear to be one on the outside, but his need to tell me about it suggested that this dream was something different from other dreams he may have experienced. Ten years later when he was in the hospital for the last time, he kept pointing to the ceiling for me to look as if something was there. He saw something that excited him that I did not see. I left the hospital and when I returned home the television and lamp in my bedroom were turned on, full blast, although I know I turned them off when I left. Within a few minutes, my uncle called me on the telephone to say that my grandfather had died.

Now to undermine it all a little by detailing some things which i would have claimed were DBVs had my mother died soon after them, but which in fact preceded her death by several years. On the face of it they may undermine the direct correlation between imminent death and these experiences. On the other hand they might suggest another possibility...

She had dementia for the last several years of her life, which was brought to the fore by hospitilisation for sepsis. During that initial hospital stay..and the first year of full blow dementia...she frequently referenced both her own mother and my father as being alive or having been to see her. There was no reference to an awareness or remembrance of their being dead, nor did she ever "hallucinate" visits from any living relatives. Clearly then the same knowledge of this stuff i talked of earlier made me assume these were DBVs, heralding death. But as i say she didn't die! Not for five years. I did consult a researcher into the subject who said these were after death communications - loved ones visiting to take care of her rather than take her away - but it seems a distinction made in response to the outcome rather than the chacteristics of the experience itself.

In addition there were a couple of occasions in hospital where i caught her in full on conversation with invisible people, her facial expressions reacting to their responses. When i walked into the room after watching this through a gap in the door she stopped. I asked who she was talking to, and she referred to two women but otherwise treated it like a secret and none of my business. The nurses i told about it seemed completely nonchalant...they seemed to think all her newly acquired mental oddities were her normal state. Which they certainly weren't.

Then there was an occasion at home when she reported her late mother in law of all people - my grandmother, dead before i was born - had been to see her, standing in the door of her bedroom. She was clearly pleasantly surprised by this visit and from my best recollection said grandmother told her she lives in her own house now and looks after - i can never recall if she said it or her (ie my mother). The intriguing detail was she had to go as there were "all these people behind her".

As i say my mum lived another 5 years so whatever these were they couldn't be called Death Bed Visions per se. But ive an alternative notion....

As i mentioned the dementia came to the fore with being ill in hospital, but this hadn't caused it, merely accelerated what must have started a couple of years earlier, unnoticed. In retrospect those increasing and infuriating habits we'd put down to the general loopiness of old age - constantly asking over and over each night if the front door was locked etc - must have been early signs of damage. But the most infuriating thing of all may provide a clue. Night after night she would drive me insane (I lived with her as her care giver) by calling me within minutes of going to bed to complain about "them" - entirely non existent people she could hear outside in front of hte house talking and walking about.

Maybe..just maybe...this was a variation on what came later with specific visitors. The notion that occurs to me is to speculate that dementia patients, or anyone whose mind begins to detach from their physical body, no matter how many months or years it takes to break free, maybe they are having (but can not process or identify the fact), mediumistic experiences. The more detached you become from your brain the more you interact with that other world. As death approaches with ill health - even if it doesn't quite arrive - you see and hear the ever present dead, and as you recover, no matter how many times you do so, the "visions" step back. Perhaps they only "come for" us when we reach the point of no return, but are standing ready every time we approach it. Just a thought.

A friend of mine from church, Diane, told me that her brother got/had terminal lucidity right before he died. She didn't know what it was called but she described to me how her brother "woke up" right before he died and started talking and remembered everything. She said he hadn't talked in two years.

A few weeks later I met a Methodist Minister at the hospital (I was taking my MIL to get her mammogram)and I got to talking about life after death (which I do a!) stuff and the Methodist minister said to us "you know a strange thing happened to me a few weeks ago." He said that his mother was in the process of dying and right before she died she also woke up and started talking to him... something she hadn't done in a couple of years. She had senile dementia but right before she died she was able to communicate and talk to him and tell him that she loved him.

And then there's the plumber from our church who got hit by a van when he was 8 and had a near death experience. He told me that he remembered being held and the love that he felt. He said that he spent the first half of his life trying to get back to where he was then.

and our preacher told me that he was messing around with an electrical box and got zapped and got knocked out of his body and had an out of body experience...So he is very understanding of my interest in NDEs and deathbed visions, nearing death awareness, and also some mystical and transcendental experiences.

and one time I was sitting in a hot tub in Athens, Georgia and I met a hospice nurse who told me she had seen and experienced quite a few nearing death awareness experiences. She said the one that is the most common is people reaching up to invisible people right before they die. She told me that before that they didn't have the strength to raise their arms but right before they die sometimes they'll "wake up" and even sit up in bed or reach out to someone that no one in the room can see.

Thanks for this, Michael, though I think the article is pretty tepid, not exactly the forthright argument for spiritual realities I was hoping for. Either the author is trying to appeal to a wider audience, or is himself not convinced.

On the other hand, anything that encourages us to be more attentive to, and accepting of, the inner experiences of the dying is definitely a good thing. And I find this interesting, a point made by the author, and elaborated on in Wikipedia as follows:

"In the law of evidence, a dying declaration is testimony that would normally be barred as hearsay but may in common law nonetheless be admitted as evidence in criminal law trials because it constituted the last words of a dying person. The rationale, accurate or not, is that someone who is dying or believes death to be imminent would have less incentive to fabricate testimony, and as such, the hearsay statement carries with it some reliability."

Maybe, for the same reason, doctors (as well as lawyers) should take seriously what comes from the mouths of those exiting this stage of existence.

Very interesting Michael thanks - and also to the other posters. I think I can understand Eric’s puzzlement about not seeing the same phenomena given his voluntary work. It’s a bit like NDEs perhaps in that relatively few people seem to report them but the fact that some people do is intriguing.

As I get older I realise more and more what a very thin sliver of the spectrum of human experience I have actually been exposed to.

I've read that the people who don't have deathbed visions or nearing death awareness are usually the ones that are too doped up to communicate. It's the people who are not on drugs who see and talk to their deceased relatives. When they got people heavily sedated they are drugged up to tell us what they are seeing.


I would only say that I don’t think the deceased “come for us.” I think the seriously ill person becomes aware of them and that they were there in their reality all of the time but not seen. - AOD

My family is in no way prone to 'mystical' or paranormal experiences. However in both my Mom and Dad's cases there were certainly similarities to what was reported in this post.

In my Dad's case I was visiting him the night before he died. He was in the nursing home/rehab center, lying in bed, wide awake and having a very animated conversation with someone (or something) at the foot of his bed. Most definitely NOT talking to me (I was standing to his left). Unfortunately his vocal cords were not operative and I'm not a lip reader so I have no idea what he was saying to 'whoever'

In my Mom's case, she was wide awake, alert and could communicate easily (i.e. her voice was functional). We were sitting together in her room at the assisted living facility on the Saturday before she died (the following Tuesday). She told me that my Dad, who'd died about eight and a half years prior, and her Mom, who'd died about 38 years prior were visiting her regularly. She did not indicate in any way that her visitors were 'spirits' and thank God I did not try to correct her by saying, "No Mom, they couldn't have visited you. They're dead!" I just thought it was fascinating. We had a very interesting conversation. She even said that her Mom was there at the moment. I asked what she was doing. She was eating a sandwich!

So, since, as I say, my family is not prone to this type of thing, I'm now pretty sure that when and if I start seeing/conversing with 'spirits', it'll mean that my appointment with the 'event horizon' is imminent.

Thanks for sharing this.

It is questionable at best if my Dad will be here much longer so I like to think this is consistent with the view that death is not the end but a transition.

I am glad to see this is being taken more seriously by the mainstream.

Very interesting, as usual.

To add to the anecdotes, shortly before he died, someone in my own extended family said he was seeing his own deceased father.

Before he passed, my father was talking a lot about his buddies in the Navy - guys he hadn't seen in decades. I'd like to think they were welcoming him.

This subject also reminds me of the classic novel, Wuthering Heights, as one major character repeatedly implies before his death that he is being visited by a deceased person in a very eerie fashion.

I think this could all be hallucinations, but I hope I am wrong. A similar book like this is Into the light by John Lerma. Very interesting and it was the first time I read about this subject.

Here's a 3-minute account by the brother of Wilfred Owen, who was thousands of miles away from him in the last days of WW1, having a visitation from Owen's ghost communicating that he had just been killed:

BTW, this is episode 8 in a colorized and excellent history of WW1. Quite touching in places.


Great post!

When my father was dying back in 2001, this issue was on my mind, and I asked him whether he had been seeing anyone (in as natural a way as possible). He said he had not. He was pretty much delirious at that point, however. I had to comfort him again and again, as he would think something was amiss ("I think I forgot to lock the car"--stuff like that), and I would say, "I've taken care of it. Nothing to worry about."

It was a terrible situation, but that's a story for another time...

When I had a highly evidential sitting with medium Georgia O'Connor, my mother's spirit said that she was there to greet my father when he passed over (this was mentioned for some important reasons that are personal and that I won't go into).

I don't know if he saw her before he totally died. He had experienced a massive stroke and was lying quietly in bed. He had largely lost the ability to speak and move.

Thank you for this. I had an experience similar to Donna Brennan, the hospice nurse, right before my mother had her second and last stroke.

It was a year after her first mild stroke. She was at home and doing very well, able to talk, watch TV, eat, and generally interact with us. One night, I was sitting on her bed, while we watch TV in her bedroom, when she began to converse with people I obviously couldn't see.

Even though she had all her faculties, I was always on the look out for signs of cognitive decline, so cautiously I asked her who she was speaking to.

She waved her hand as if to dismiss me and said, "Oh this isn't for you yet. I'm speaking to mamma and some others, but it's not for you yet."

Then she told them she'd get back to them and went back to watching TV with me as if nothing had happened. I'd always wondered if this was real. It felt like she authentically was in contact with her mother and family. At the same time, it didn't feel or look like a hallucination because she was interacting with me very logically and lucidly. Now, I am more convinced I did indeed witness her vision because a few days later, she had that final stroke, was placed in hospice, and passed away.

Karen great story! Thank you so much for sharing that. I love reading nearing death awareness stories. Probably even more than reading NDE descriptions. There is just something about them that I find uplifting and comforting.
Thanks again, Art

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