Good deaths versus bad

  1. 1
    I'm not a nurse, just a grieving daughter. My dad died in February after his colon cancer returned to met. in his liver. His birthday was last week.

    I'm trying desperately to move past my grief but I can't seem to move beyond the questions of life after death. I've been comforted by all the hospice stories of deathbed visions.
    There was nothing unusual about my father's death, except that 2 days before he died he opened up his eyes briefly to stare at a seam in the ceiling behind him. He had to bend his head akwardly to do so. I kept trying to get him to look at me, but he kept returning his eyes to the ceiling. This lasted just a few minutes, then he closed his eyes again. He could not speak in his final days. But now that I have heard about deathbed visions, I wish I would have asked him if he saw something.

    Still, this is not the real reason I need to ask about hospice experiences. About a year before my father died, I prayed for God to send an angel to comfort me. Two hours later, my four year old son, (unaware of this prayer) woke up at night and stared at the ceiling. Apparently, he saw "beings" floating above us. We moved from room to room and they followed. He was so freaked out, I asked (again silently) for a sign (a feather) that these beings were "safe". Ten minutes later, I felt a scratching beneath my shirt. Sure enough, I found a feather. From then on, we found feathers every where, (it was winter) including one feather on my father's chest the day he died. Our clothes that we chose for the funeral, each had a feather, as did my mother's coat. The feathers stopped the day after his funeral, until my sister woke up and found a 6" feather in her newly washed bedsheets. Other, more profound events occured that others can concur, and all seemed to call my father back to God--(he'd been angry with God most of his life and declared himself an atheist.) I'm wondering what the significance of these experiences were. Did my dad need to make "amends" with God before he died? Was this necessary for him in order to have a peaceful death?

    Regardless of whether these "events" were spiritual or not, I'd like to hear real experiences from real hospice nurses on death bed visions and experiences. Are most deaths actually uneventful as far as visions and "spiritual" (for lack of a better term) experiences? Do most people "see" something or experience something that comforts them before death? Or are there just as many "scary" or "hellish" visions/experiences? What makes someone experience a positive comforting death versus a terrible one? Is it pain, fear, unfinished business, does religion seem to play any role as far as the type of visions or experiences? And what about the huge ghost stories thread? What do you think is responsible for ghosts? Evil spirits, demons, lost souls? And how could a soul get lost? Do patients that die unexpectedly (such as an emergency room death) seem to experience death differently? (perhaps because they werent' prepared?)

    I know I have a lot of questions, and I know that hospice nurses don't have the key to life and death. But I do want to know what most nurses think is waiting for us on the other side, based on experience and opinions due to these experiences. Most threads seem to show one side only--either positive death bed visions, or ghost/demon type stories. I want to know what nurses think the factors are to good and bad experiences. And what experiences are the most common? Does religion seem to make a difference? Does hell or evil seem to exist? Do you believe death doesn't occur, in most cases, until a person's soul is ready? (again, back to unfinished business, waiting for family members to arrive). I do not want to split this thread into a Christianity debate, but does anyone believe the Christian requirement of "accepting Jesus" seem relevant? Do most patients really see a "light?" If so, what do you think this light is?

    I'm not seeking gruesome details, trying to raise a religious debate or make light of any patient's experiences. And please, please, don't respond if you think deathbed experiences are caused by medication, disease or brain death. My goal here is to heal. I can't seem to do so until I move past some of these questions. At this stage of my grief I do not want to even consider that my father has simply ceased to exist.

    A few weeks after my father passed, I visited my mom. I kept looking for something, I don't quite know what, but I was on the ground, behind desks, I couldn't stop . When my mother asked me what I was looking for, I couldn't help what I said: I told her I was looking for Dad. I guess it was the transition period of trying to accept that my father was truly gone--that he wasn't just around the corner or at the store. Of course, he's not here, but I still keep trying to find him....Without a doubt something spiritual happened to our family throughout his battle that seemed completely relevant/necessary in preparing my father for death. I know what I experienced, I know what other family members experienced, I know HOW it affected my Dad, but I don't know WHY. I don't know what difference it made or want signifiance it had.

    Of course, I hope to hear that almost all patients die in the comfort of God and welcomed by loved ones that they have missed, and that we only pass when our soul is truly ready to move on. etc. etc. That bad deaths are only due to pain or fear (that turns to shear joy in the after life). But what really seems to happen?

    Thank you for sharing. And thank you to the hospice nurses that cared for my father in his last week. I miss him.
    nitenite likes this.

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 14 Comments...

  3. 1
    I am so sorry for your loss....I lost my father as well, it is very hard for a girl to be without her daddy.

    I don't have alot of answers for your questions. I do witness deaths as a part of my job, and most often, they are peaceful deaths. I have seen patients reaching out, or focusing on things during their transition.

    A television show on the biography channel helped comfort me about what happens after is called I survived beyond and back. It is true stories of people that have died for a short period of time and what their experiences were.

    Here is a link to the website....if you don't get the biography channel, I am pretty sure you can view some show segments online.

    I wish you peace in this journey
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
  4. 0
    I am so sorry for your loss. I'd like to suggest a book that I'm currently reading: "Evidence of the Afterlife" by Paul Perry and Dr. Jeffrey Long. I heard Dr. Long speak a week or so ago --- he was very interesting, as is his book. My husband lost his battle w/ cancer in February and the healing takes time.....lots of time. You may also want to join a berevement group. I'm finding a ton of support there as well. Wishing you well on your journey.
  5. 1
    I am so sorry. Your pain literally cries out from the webpage and I wish there were some way I could reassure you that your Dad is safe and happy and whole again.

    Having witnessed a fair number of people make their final journeys, I've experienced the vast majority of deaths as very peaceful and serene. Usually the patient loses consciousness before breathing his/her last, but on occasion I've seen them point at the ceiling or talk to someone only they could see just before dying. I've always thought that must have been so comforting for them, as I myself hope one day to see Jesus holding out His arms to me as I cross the divide between life on earth and life in Heaven.

    I don't know if you have a spiritual resource such as a priest or minister, but if you do, I suggest talking with him or her. The clergy can be very helpful in assisting people to express their grief and reassuring them that their loved one is indeed at rest. I also echo the sentiments of the above posters who suggested a bereavement counselor; in fact, the hospice agency that cared for your father should have some sort of after-care services for the family, and grief counseling should be one of them. You may want to start there; also, it's often good to talk with other family members since you all share the same loss.

    I wish you the best in finding the help you need, and pray for your healing and eventual recovery from grief.
    tewdles likes this.
  6. 0
    thank you all for responding. I've noticed that this site has such an amazing collection of caring people. And for those that have also suffered loss, I'm sorry too. It's so hard to tell my kids that the sadness from grandpa's death is one problem I just can't solve. And to HospiceNurse, I'm even more sorry for your loss that is also so recent. I think the hardest part of all of this is watching my mother deal with the loss.
    Regarding talking to a pastor, I have actually found myself moving away from the church right now. I have spent much time studying on my own. I know God had a hand in this, but I just don't want to keep hearing (subtly) how the devil was as prominant as God in this (everything that was good that happened was due to God, everything bad that happened was blamed on the devil, and his fight to "win" my father).
  7. 0
    I meant to add: (thus the reason for all my questions . I am focusing on God's word and asking Him to help direct me. AND, I really do want to try the hospice options, they were very patient and kind.
    Thanks for all the book suggestions. I am reading everything I can get my hands on!
    Your responses will help me greatly!
  8. 0
    I have done this job for two and a half years, and in that length of time i have only ever had a handful of patients report 'scary' deathbed visions or hallucinations, all of which were easily corrected by changing meds. On the other hand, most patients who are mobile or verbal towards the end of life have interactions and conversations with people no one else can see, and most will report that they are family members who passed away before. The neatest thing I experienced was a patient with Down syndrome who was older and reported seeing her cat who had died years ago for several weeks before she died. Her family had to buy cat food and a litter box to appease her, she was so insistent on that cat being there. I am sorry for your loss, and it sounds like you are going through 'normal' grief if there is such a thing. One of the things I tell my patient's families is that it is important to acknowledge that just because we have a firm belief (which I do and most people seem to in general) that the deceased are in a better place, you are allowed to be angry and sad that your loved one is not here with you. Give yourself that gift of allowing that part of your grief, and realize that people will expect your grieving to be done in a few months, but that it takes a lifetime to grieve for those we have loved and lost.
  9. 0
    OP, I know your pain as I just lost my beloved mother 2 days ago. I know what u mean about worrying about your mother. My parents have been married for 55 years and I am so worried about him. My mother passed very peacefully and I have no doubt she is on the other side with her parents and daughter whom was a stillborn, or these days called fetal demise. There is np way I could go on without the peace of this knowledge. .Even though your father considered himself an.athiest means nothing. God loved ALL his children and welcomes them in open arms. The feathers are Gods way of telling you and your family that your daddy will be in a better place and the feather on your daddy's chest was God's way of :redpinkhe letting you know your father is with me now. I will pray you find peace. God bless.
  10. 0
    i'm sorry for your loss, too. (my parents were married 56 years) There's just no way to bypass loss/grief. Although, I have found that keeping an eye out for my mother and spending time with her has been very helpful, as we can lean on each other and discuss our grief--or just sit in silence. Still....
  11. 0
    Dear "missingmydad",

    I feel like it could have been me writing your email. I lost my beloved father on 1/2/13, and I am grieving his loss. I too have been searching the internet for hospice care stories of death, seeking comfort for my loss. My parents were married 58 years. They met at a high school dance when he was 16 and she was 14. They have been soul mates ever since. I agree with the person who says that one of the hardest things to do is watching their mother deal with the loss. My mother is amazing. She is strong, competent and still finds ways to laugh, but I know that she is heartbroken, and must now reinvent herself at 77 years old. I am so happy that we are such a close little family. I am an only child, and my son is an only child. We all miss my father greatly. We were not prepared for my father's death. He had developed a severe shortness of breath starting around the middle of last my son's college graduation, to be exact. After that it was just one trip to the hospital after another, until his heart finally gave up. We kept thinking that we could turn things around, but we couldn't. Some things are not in our control, I guess. Let me tell you of a book that has given me comfort...Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander. I keep re-reading parts of it. It comforts me to think that science and spirituality can co-exist. Good luck on your journey. Let me know how I can expect to feel one year from now. Thank you.
    Last edit by FASFans on May 16, '13 : Reason: typo

Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors