I recently saw an interview with Dr. Christopher Kerr who is the chief medical officer at Buffalo, New York’s Center for Hospice and Palliative Care. In the interview he spoke about an experience he had when he first came to the institution. This is from the interview, “…when he was first starting out, something happened that opened his mind. He thought a certain patient could live a little longer with IV fluids.
“I walked in and the nurse didn’t even look up,” said Dr. Kerr. “And she said, “No, no, he’s dying,’ and I said, ‘Why are you saying that?’ And she said, ‘Well, he’s seeing his deceased mother,’ and I was like [laughing noise] ‘Yeah, right.’”
He was skeptical, but he explained that he was proven wrong over and over.”
Dr. Kerr went on to document the dreams of the dying and discovered that more often than not, people who are near death will experience a dream where a loved one who had already passed away will come to them. In 10 years, he has documented 14,000 cases, eighty-percent of his patients report dreams or visions.
The dreams are almost always positive ones and the patient generally feels happy or relieved after they’ve had ones. Children who are dying have talked about a favorite pet who had died coming back in a dream and playing with the child.
I recall a story told to me by a woman whose father was in hospice care. He was near the end of his life, and her mother had requested that she come and spend the night in their home, because she didn’t want to be alone when her husband died. The woman slept in her childhood bedroom, just down the hall from her father’s bed and slept with the door open, just in case her father called out during the night. She told me that she remembered waking to hear the voice of her grandmother, who had passed away years ago, in the hall. She recognized the voice because her grandmother had been from Italy and her English was heavily accented. She listened as her grandmother spoke to her father, asking him why he was taking so long. Telling him that his brother and other family members were waiting for him, so he needed to hurry things up. Her father passed away peacefully before the morning. She told me that she wondered if it had been a dream, but she couldn’t imagine why she would dream something like that. She hadn’t thought about her grandmother in years.
Could these experiences be more than dreams? Could they be visits, but because we don’t want to accept paranormal events in our lives, we classify them as dreams instead of visitations? Or, because the dying are the only ones to “see” the visitors, we decide they must be dreaming?
I remember speaking to a group of nurses at a nursing home and they all spoke about the last visits their patients would have with their loved ones before they passed. It was a spouse or a parent, who would come back and guide them home.
These next stories are from the allnurses website:
“My aunt-I visited her the day of her passing. She passed later that night. I went through the door of her hospital room. Now, my aunt just earlier that day, could do nothing but mumble, and was a very sick lady. Well, after I entered the room, she sat up in bed, smiled like she was looking right through me, and said, “Look, daddy.” My grandfather died the year before I was born, and my mom has always said that we would have dearly loved each other. I think my grandfather was surrounding me that day, and my aunt saw him, and was communicating with him.”
“I too am now a Hospice nurse. I recently had a young woman who was dying with a mild case of terminal restlessness. I was at the home and she was talking to me then suddenly she opened her eyes, looked at me and asked, “(my name), why is when I open my eyes all the people go away?” I told her the people were there for her and it was OK to go to them. She very peacefully said “OK, that’s what I’ll do then.” and passed away about 10 minutes later.”
“Several years ago, I was the nursing director at a residential hospice program for people with AIDS. It was far more uncommon for someone not to have these experiences than to have them. I often told people, when they asked about all the folks in their rooms, that they were their guides. There just was never any question to the validity of that statement. It was fact for everyone.
On a more personal level, and a slightly different issue is the visitation we as survivors receive when our loved ones pass. I remember my father walking up the driveway of our home (I was 16) telling me everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t until I went back into the house that I realized what had happened…we had buried him 2 days previously. (My father continued to visit me for years until I was out of college).
My sister (1,000 miles away) was in ICU on full life support when she died after being ill for merely 10 hours. While I don’t recall actually seeing her or feeling her, I started crying and had to leave work. I KNEW she had died.
I believe these incidents occur for us all…both while we are dying, and while we are living. I’m excited to find out what comes next…but I’ll just wait until it’s my turn.”
These next stories are from Jim Harold’s Virtual Campfire – Facebook page from people who had just viewed the interview at the beginning of this blog:
“The same thing occurred when my dad passed and a year later when my mom passed. My dad would ask us if we could see the angel next to him, and he saw an old buddy of his who had died many, many years before. My mom had many occasions of my dad coming to sit on their bed or tapping her on the shoulder. She was never scared by this (which was very unusual because all her life she was afraid of death and dying). Then when she was in hospital, she was pointing out people and asking us if we could see them. It was amazing.”
“I know that this is common at least among the relatives on my Mother’s side of the family. Previously passed brothers and sisters appear to the sibling that is going to pass and help them through it. My uncle, who was in a nursing home, had a vision wherein his previously passed sister said that he was going to pass away the following day and that he should gather the living siblings to say goodbye. He called my Mom and said to gather the relatives as he was going to die the next day. As he was in good health, my Mom didn’t necessarily believe him but told the living siblings what he said. My uncle collapsed in the hallway the next day and died. I’m certainly not glad that he died, but I think it is cool that loved ones looked out for us.”
“My maternal grandparents took care of my great grandmother up until she passed in their home. Near the end, she maintained a clear head but started to talk about seeing the people outside at night waiting for her. Two days before she passed, she began talking to the empty rocking chair, saying that she was talking to her mother who had come to take her home. She was at peace.”
“My father and brother were at my mom’s bedside for weeks as my mom was dying. One day she woke up from a dream and asked my dad if her mother was alive. He told her no, as my grandmother had been dead over 30 years. My youngest brother had also died 6 years before my mom. She told my dad and my other brother that she saw him too. She died 2 days later.”
Dreams, visitations, hallucinations?
Whatever the phenomena, it gives me great comfort to know that many people are guided home by the people who probably have been watching over them as guardian angels for years.