People about to Die Often Have Visions of Loved Ones

People about to die have visions of dead loved ones

Pre-death and Deathbed Visions

Everything we know about the life after this life tells us that the Universal Intelligence has set up life so the transition into the next plane of eternal life is as easy as possible; the universe is filled with love and compassion. Pre-death visions are an example of the preparation for a gentler transition.

Pre-death visions are visions of deceased loved ones that patients commonly have in the weeks before they die. Deathbed visions are the visions dying patients have in the days or hours immediately preceding death. Both help the person prepare for the transition. They are God’s counselors, bringing reassurance to those about to cross over.

Dr. James L. Hallenbeck, Director of palliative care services with the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Health Care System, estimates that these pre-death visions or deathbed visions of deceased loved ones occur prior to at least 25 percent of deaths.[i]

Stephen Wagner estimates the number of people who experience deathbed visions as even more. He explains that only about 10 percent of dying people are conscious shortly before their deaths, but between 50 and 60 percent of those conscious experience deathbed visions.[ii]

Children are truth-tellers because of their youthful naïveté, and when they experience such visions they describe them matter-of-factly. In Closer to the Light, Dr. Melvin Morse describes children’s deathbed visions, explaining that they are astonishing scientific proof of the validity of the near-death experience.[iii]

Dr. Diane Komp, a Yale pediatric oncologist, described a 7‑year-old girl who sat up in bed just before her death from leukemia and said, “The angels, they are so beautiful, can’t you hear them singing Mommy?” A boy dying of leukemia said God spoke to him and that he asked God if he could live another year so he could explain his death to his 3-year-old brother. Amazingly, against medical odds, the boy lived one more year.[iv]

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described a healthy 4-year-old girl who had a vivid dream she described to her mother. She said she saw a beautiful golden heaven and that it was “really, really, real,” with gold angels, diamonds, and jewels. It was a fun place. There, she met Jesus. She told her mother not to worry because Jesus would take care of her. She then went out to play and sadly was murdered only hours later.[v]

In 1959, Karlis Osis, PhD, Psychology Professor at the University of Freiburg, and Erlendur Haraldsson, PhD, Psychology Professor at the University of Munich, studied deathbed visions in the U.S. and India by interviewing doctors and nurses who had been present when people died. They mailed out questionnaires to 5,000 physicians and 5,000 nurses, who provided information on over 35,000 observations of dying patients. The responses indicated that over 1,300 dying patients saw apparitions and almost 900 reported visions of the life after this life. They found the following consistencies:

  • Some dying people reported seeing angels and other religious figures, but most reported seeing familiar deceased people.
  • Very often, the friends and relatives in these visions communicate that they have come to help take them away.
  • The dying person is reassured by the experience and expresses great happiness with the vision and is quite willing to go with the deceased greeters.
  •  The dying person’s mood and health change often when they have such a vision. During and after these visions, a once-depressed or pain-riddled person is elated and relieved of pain.
  • During the vision, the dying person is acutely aware of his or her real surroundings and conditions, not immersed in a fantasy.
  • The experience and reactions afterward are the same for all experiencers, whether they believe in a life after this life or not.[vi]

Osis and Haraldsson reported their findings in At the Hour of Death, concluding the following in typical researcher-scientific language:

In our judgement, the similarities between the core phenomena found in the death-bed visions of both countries are clear enough to be considered supportive of the post-mortem survival hypothesis.[vii]

In other words, the deathbed visions seem to be real communication with people living in the life after this life, supporting the conclusion that we continue to live after the body dies.

Carla Wills-Brandon, MA, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is author of nine books exploring addiction, self-esteem problems, sexual trauma, death, the life after this life, and spirituality. She describes her husband’s experience of a deathbed vision before his father’s passing. Her husband told her the story the morning after he sat up all night with his father in the hospital.

Tonight while snoozing in the chair in his room, I had a wonderful dream about Da. In this dream he said to me he was going soon, but that he would always watch over us. Upon awakening, I looked over at Da as he slept and noticed he was very at ease. Suddenly, I saw something rise from his body. It was absolutely beautiful. A whirl of pastel color, vibrant in not only appearance but also movement, was leaving his chest area. It was so comforting.” The following week, Da gently passed away in my husband’s arms.[viii]

Wills-Brandon includes other experiences described to her by caregivers who had been at the bedside of someone passing in her book One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions.[ix] She explains that countless hospice workers have seen a wisp of something leave the body at the moment of death and that the patients commonly describe visions of deceased relatives, angels, or celestial beings of light.

The caregivers themselves often describe receiving visits during dreams from deceased relatives or even the dying person. Wills‑Brandon describes one caregiver’s account. She had just returned home, exhausted from caring for her dying mother at the nursing home:

My mother had been very ill for some time…. After dinner with my husband and children, I went to bed. During the middle of the night, I awoke from a very deep sleep. I had dreamed my mother had come to visit me. In this dream, she was with my father who had passed 5 years ago. Both of them looked happy and healthy. My mother blew me a kiss. Then she and my father turned around and walked off, over a hill. When I awoke, tears filled my eyes, but I also felt a sense of peace. My parents had looked so joyful. I looked at the clock and noted it was 3 a.m., then lay back down and went to sleep. The next morning my brother called to tell me my mother had left us. When I asked him about the time of her death, he replied she had passed at 3 a.m.[x]

Dr. Peter Fenwick, neuroscientist and Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, describes the account of a woman who witnessed the spiritual image of her husband’s death:

Suddenly there was the most brilliant light shining from my husband’s chest, and as this light lifted upward, there was the most beautiful music and singing voices. My own chest seemed filled with infinite joy, and my heart felt as if it was lifting to join this light and music. Suddenly, there was a hand on my shoulder, and a nurse said, ‘‘Sorry, love. He’s just gone.’’ I lost sight of the light and the music and felt so bereft at being left behind.[xi]

The deathbed visions are quite common and aren’t explained by any medical or psychological influence. Apparently, those on the next plane of life are helping the dying person make the transition into the life after this life.

View a video of Martha Jo Atkins, PhD, LPC-S, founder of the Death and Dying Institute describing near-death and deathbed visions: http://www.earthschoolanswers.com/atkins/.

View a video of Dr. Christopher Kerr, Chief Medical Officer of the Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo Research Department, describing dreams people near death have about family members, including interviews with dying people describing their dreams: http://www.earthschoolanswers.com/kerr/.

[i] C. A. Moore, The unseen realm: Science is making room for near-death experiences beyond this world. Desert Morning News. February 18, 2006.

[ii] Stephen Wagner, “Deathbed visions.” Liveabout.com. January 2, 2019. http://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa021901a.htm.

[iii] Melvin Morse with Paul Perry. Parting Visions. New York: Villard Books, 1994.

[iv] Diane Komp, A Window to Heaven: When Children See Life in Death. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1992.

[v] Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Children and Death. New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1983.

[vi] Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson. At the Hour of Death. Norwalk, CT: Hastings House, 1997.

[vii] Osis, Karlis, and Erlendur Haraldsson. At the Hour of Death. Norwalk, CT: Hastings House, 1997, p. 192.

[viii] Carla Wills-Brandon, One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery And Meaning Of Deathbed Visions. Norwalk, CT: Hastings House, 2007.

[ix] Carla Wills-Brandon, One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery And Meaning Of Deathbed Visions. Hastings House, 2007.

[x] Carla Wills-Brandon, One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery And Meaning Of Deathbed Visions. Hastings House, 2007.

[xi] Peter Fenwick, “Approaching-Death Experiences and the NDE: A Model for the Dying Process?” IANDS, June 24, 2017. https://www.iands.org/research/nde-research/important-research-articles/42-dr-peter-fenwick-md-science-and-spirituality.html?start=5

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