“Da,” as my two boys lovingly called their grandfather, was over 6 feet tall. He was a decorated war hero who had rescued all of the relatives in concentration camps after Hitler’s fall. Yes, Da was very special. As a physician, he worked until he was 83 years of age, out living most of his patients. A loving grandfather, he always enjoyed a good romp with my two boys. At times, my father in law was a kid himself. He exercised weekly and loved taking his 2 dogs Teri and Cleo, out for their nightly walk. Being very independent, Da was devastated when a stroke left him bed ridden.
As his passing drew near, extended family members periodically took turns sitting with him. Though this was of great help, most of the caretaking responsibility rested on the shoulders of my husband and myself. One evening, my husband announced that he would be spending the night with his father at the hospital. He knew between caring for Da and the boys I was worn out and suggested I try to get a good night’s sleep. After packing up a freshly baked batch of chocolate chip cookies for my husband to munch on that evening at the hospital, I put the boys to sleep, fell into bed and slept soundly myself.
The next morning, I awoke to find my husband’s face in my face. He was lying in the bed cuddled up next to me. Though he looked very tired, he had a huge grin on his face. After rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I sat up in bed and said, “So? How are you? How is Da?” With this tears began to fall from his eyes. “His time is near,” he replied. “I saw his soul begin to take flight.”
“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.
What my husband experienced that night is commonly known as a deathbed vision or “DBV”. Often times those at the bedside of someone who is terminally ill will experience DBVs. In my latest book, “One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery And Meaning Of Deathbed Visions,” I share one DBV account after another from caregivers who have been at the bedside of someone passing. Countless hospice workers have witnessed seeing a wisp of “something” leave the body at the moment of physical death. Visions of deceased relatives, angels or celestial beings of light have also been reported.
Visitations to caretakers from deceased relatives or even the dying person can take place during dreamtime. At the moment of my own mother’s passing, I awoke in my bed at home knowing deep in my soul, that my mother, who was in the hospital had died. A phone call 10 minutes later confirmed this. At the time I was 16 years of age. Here is another example of a dreamtime DBV.
“I was asleep at home. My mother had been very ill for sometime. I had traveled to the home of my youth to be with her, but had eventually needed to leave her side to care for my young children. When I left my mother’s nursing home room, I had known I would never see her again. Flying home, my grief was overwhelming. The night I returned home I was both physically and emotionally exhausted. 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 AM, 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 AM.”
Often times, the individual who is about to die will also report other worldly visitations. “Don’t you see her? My (deceased) mother is here! She has come to take me with her!” or “There are angels everywhere! They are lovely! They want me to go with them!” or “I have been to the other side and it is just beautiful! I’m ready to die” or “I just had a talk with God. All is well,” are comments the dying will often make weeks, days, hours or moments before passing. Let’s take a look at the DBV of a dying person.
“My father had been very ill all year long. I had moved in with him to care for him and had been living at the house for about 6 months. The doctors had told me there was nothing more that they could do and that it was important to make him as comfortable as possible. Being close to my father I did not mind putting my own life on hold to care for him during his final days. He had lost a tremendous amount of weight and friends and family knew his time was near. One afternoon I noticed he was staring intently at the ceiling. When I would ask him a question, he would turn his gaze toward me, answer my question and then look back at the ceiling. That evening, I walked in to find him in deep conversation with someone. Looking at the corner of his room, he would nod, and then say, “Yes, I understand.” Nod again and then reply, “Ok.” The next morning, I asked him, “Whom were you talking to?” With this he answered, “A very nice lady has been visiting me. She said we are going on a trip together.” My father had several more conversations with this “nice lady” before passing away the following week.”
Caretakers who are unaware that deathbed visions are common, spiritual experiences the dying often encounter before passing, can feel confused and even frightened upon hearing such reports. Medical personnel will often say that such visions are the by-product of a dying brain or medication. Sadly, such explanations cannot completely explain the DBV phenomenon and they take from the spiritual significance of such encounters.
DBVs have a specific purpose. That purpose is to ease the transition from this world to the next for the dying and those who are taking care of them. When we as caretakers understand that DBVs are a positive, affirming experience, we can better assist those we love who are departing. Departing visions provide comfort not only to the dying, but also to those who love and care for them.