Deathbed Visions of Children

Nurses Spirituality


I came across an interesting post today on Reddit today. I will share it before asking my questions since they are about this issue: 


Many people know (Elizabeth) Kubler-Ross for her work identifying the 5 stages of grief, and for her major contributions to the study of death & dying and to hospice care. People die with more peace and dignity because of her work.

Because she worked so closely with dying people, Kubler-Ross began to observe NDEs and deathbed visions. Here's a section from a speech she gave, published in the book The Tunnel and the Light, on veridical ones specifically [content warning: child injury and death]:

"It is interesting to me as a psychiatrist that thousands of people all around the globe should share the same hallucinations prior to death; namely, the awareness of some friends or relatives who preceded them in death. There must be some explanation for this if it's not real. And so I proceeded to try and find out means and ways to study this, to verify this. Or perhaps to verify that it is simply a projection of wishful thinking. The best way perhaps to study it is for us to sit with dying children after family accidents. We usually did this after the 4th of July, weekend, Memorial Days, Labor Days, when families go out together in family cars and all too often have head-on collisions, killing several members of the family and sending many of the injured survivors to different hospitals.

I have made it a task to sit with the critically injured children since they are my specialty. As is usually the case, they have not been told which of their family members were killed in the same accident. I was always impressed that they were invariably aware of who had preceded them in death anyway!

I sit with them, watch them silently, perhaps hold their hand, watch their restlessness and then, often shortly prior to death, a peaceful serenity comes over them. That is always an ominous sign. And that is the moment when I communicate with them. And I don't give them any ideas. I simply ask if they are willing and able to share with me what they experience. They share in very similar words.

As one child said to me, "Everything is all right now. Mommy and Peter are already waiting for me."

I was aware in this particular case that the mother had been killed immediately at the scene of the accident. But I also knew that Peter had gone to a burn unit in a different hospital and that he, as far as I knew, was still alive. I didn't give it a second thought, but as I walked out of the intensive care unit by the nursing station, I had a telephone call from the hospital where Peter was. The nurse at the other end of the line said, "Dr. Ross, we just wanted to tell you that Peter died ten minutes ago."

The only mistake I made was to say, "Yes, I know." The nurse must have thought I was a little coo-coo.

In thirteen years of studying children near death I have never had one child who has made a single mistake when it came to identifying -- in this way -- family members who have preceded them in death. I would like to see statistics on that."


There was a man named William Barrett who published a book in the late 1800's or early 1900's titled, "Deathbed Visions." Chapter 2 was titled, "Visions Seen by the Dying of Persons Unknown by Them to be Dead."

Do any nurses have any stories to share of patients near-death who had these visions, specifically of seeing family members/loved ones not known by them or those around them to be dead, but later confirmed the person they were seeing visions of had died? And vice versa ... have any patients near-death who had these visions ever been wrong about them? Are Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's observations correct?


Specializes in Author/Motivational Speaker.

Hi, Yes, Elizabeth's observations were correct.  First let me say that I am not not a nurse.  I first joined because I was actually researching deathbed phenomena for my book, "A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side." I found--not surprisingly--that many nurses and doctors encounter these deathbed visions.  I can tell you that these experiences are far more common than most people realize.  Most interesting to me were two types of cases:  Peak in Darien experiences and those known as terminal lucidity.  Peak in Darien cases are those in which someone is mentioned not known to be dead.  In one case a young boy came out of a coma and told his parents that he had gone to heaven and saw relatives including his sister.  The sister, as far as his parents knew, was away at college.  The parents were upset and didn't believe their son.  Later, however, they received message stating that their daughter was indeed killed in a car accident the night before. 

Cases of terminal lucidity are also very interesting.  Many times a patient may be comatose or even brain dead.  Yet they suddenly become lucid shortly before their death and are able to say their goodbyes.  My book goes into a lot more detail but I found these very fascinating.  If anyone has a story to share, I'd love to hear it.  Thank you all very much.  I appreciate the important work that you all do! 

Specializes in oncology.
On 12/20/2020 at 7:55 PM, RJ018 said:

namely, the awareness of some friends or relatives who preceded them in death.

When I sat with my Mother who had terminal cancer, she often talked to her deceased Mother, Father and Brothers. It was real!

I always thought the deceased members came to take her home. That comforted me because she fought death so hard., she was young. .I was young.  too early for  her to die.

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