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What should I do if my loved one has a deathbed vision?

David Kessler
Hospice & Palliative Medicine
While at the bedside of my patients, I often suggest to family members that there’s no point in telling their father that he’s hallucinating, or that Joseph is dead and can’t possibly be here in the room. For all we know, the veil that separates life and death is lifted in the last moments of life, and those who are dying may be more in touch with that world than with ours.

Instead of denying a patient’s reality, I respond by asking questions: “What is your loved one saying? Can you describe what else you see?” Perhaps a deceased family member is telling the patient that it’s okay to die, or maybe they’re reminiscing about growing up together. I’ve heard people tell their dying loved ones: “It’s great that Betty is here,” or “I knew that Mother would come to meet you,” or “I’m so glad Jeff is with you now.”

If you find the concept of a dead loved one greeting you on your deathbed impossible or ridiculous, consider what I finally realized as a parent: You protect your children from household dangers. You hold their hands when they cross the street on their first day of school. You take care of them when they have the flu, and you see them through as many milestones as you can. Now fast-forward 70 years or after you yourself have passed away. What if there really is an afterlife and you receive a message that your son or daughter will be dying soon? If you were allowed to go to your child, wouldn’t you?
Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die

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Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die

     David Kessler, one of the most renowned experts on death and grief, takes on three uniquely shared experiences that challenge our ability to explain and fully understand the mystery of our...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.