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.
May 16, '13
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 May...at 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