Have you ever been with someone who’s not long for this world and seen their eyes cast up as if they’re gazing at something not physically there? Have you ever noticed a dying person reaching up with their hands as if some invisible hands were reaching back out to them? Have you ever witnessed them having a conversation with someone who’s not there? When you ask who they were talking to, you might be surprised to find out they were having a conversation with someone who’s no longer living!
This phenomenon is known as deathbed visions (DBVs), which some people experience just before they pass. It’s less likely for such incidences to happen with a sudden passing, and more common with a natural death or prolonged terminal illness.
Even my mom had a DBV toward the end of her life. One day, she was sitting up in her hospital bed, quite coherent, and said quite excitedly, “Johnny! Guess who came to see me today for a visit?”
I started reeling off name after name of different people in her life that I could think of. All she kept saying was, “Nope, nope . . . Nope!” Finally, she blurted out, “Wayne came to visit!”
Wayne was her first love who’d passed some 25 years ago. “What did he want?” I asked her quietly, sitting down on the bed to hold her hand. She went on to tell me how she’d seen him sitting at the end of her bed in his sailor uniform, handsome and young like she remembered him. He told her that he was checking in on her to see how she was and that everything was going to be okay.
Examples of DBVs have been recognized and embraced by different cultures and faiths around the world, as well as thoroughly written about in both nonfiction and fiction. In 1926, the physician William Barrett wrote the book Deathbed Visions in which he detailed stories of people who’d experienced visions of deceased friends and relatives. He recorded how some had heard beautiful music, whereas others experienced visits from beings of light and angels. Barrett believed that these special visits were evidence of spirit communication. Scientific study on this subject is also becoming more accepted.
Caregivers and medical staff at hospitals and hospices are also reporting more and more how their dying patients have talked about comforting visions or visits from a loved one. Of course, many of these experiences go unreported, as there’s still a stigma attached. People are afraid of embarrassment, of being ridiculed or disbelieved.
I often say that no one ever goes home alone, and I believe that DBVs are evidence that we’re truly never alone. Whether our passing is slow or sudden, surprising or expected, there’s always a loved one to reach out and escort us back home. These experiences often help calm dying patients by lessening the fear of death. They can be extremely healing to the family and friends that remain after their loved one has passed.
If you know someone is close to passing, and they start to talk about someone visiting, the best advice I can give is to ask them questions about the visit — then listen with an open mind. You might be quite surprised by who showed up!
Hopefully, as the phenomenon of DBVs becomes more widely written about and accepted, it will assist us in recognizing that death is nothing to be afraid of. If you’ve experienced a DBV, let’s talk more about it! I invite you to to share your story either on my Facebook page or you can call into one of my Spirit Connections radio shows.
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