Deathbed visions

  1. Have you taken care of any patients who've had any?

    The first time I had a patient who was apparently having one was a lady who kept looking straight ahead at the wall & having conversations with someone named Mary that no one else could see. Come to find out from her adult son, Mary was his aunt who was deceased. The patient died a few days later.

    Another one was recently. She was an elderly lady who was so weak, she could barely speak and definately was unable to assist us when we would turn her from side to side. Well, while we were all sitting in the nurses station charting and it was quiet, we heard her talking. Her room was beside the nurses station and we kept the door open. We all looked and the lady was SITTING UP IN BED and talking loud enough that we could hear from outside the room. When asked who she was talking to, she said it was a little girl dressed in white who keeps coming to see her. A little while later, the lady was back the way she was before she had that visitor we couldn't see. We told her niece about it the next morning when she came to visit and she said several of their family members have also talked of a little girl dressed in white coming to see them soon before death. That lady also died a few days later.

    Neither of these patients had been medicated with anything that would cause hallucinations and neither were confused patients. I've heard of other nurses who've seen these kinds of things happen. Have you?
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  3. by   joe2.0
    No, but I'd be a little weirded out and a little intrigued if I did. Very interesting though.
  4. by   RNinSoCal
    Yes! I have seen this with at least 5 patients. My own mother kept thinking her brother (dead for 22 years at the time) was in her room and during the last 2 weeks of her life. She would be surprised when we came in the room and asked her who she was talking to. She would say "Oh, Steve was just here". I was comforted by the thought that she had him there to guide her. Even if it was just a hallucination, it was a good one. I have seen other patients reach out their hands to some unseen person as if they were trying to get up out of bed and leave with someone. Many people speak of "dreaming" about loved ones who have already passed and talking to them. I have never had a patient with bad dreams/visions before death thankfully. That happens too.
    Last edit by RNinSoCal on Dec 23, '06 : Reason: spelling
  5. by   thedistance
    Yes, both my grandfather and a family friend recently. There is a phenomenon known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome where people (especially those with bad eyesight) have visual hallucinations that seem completely real, although they know logically they aren't. It's very upsetting to the patient.
  6. by   meownsmile
    I have seen it before and am sure i will in the future. I have never seen it upset a patient. They usually seem very content and matter of fact when they have these visions.
    Last edit by meownsmile on Dec 23, '06
  7. by   clemmm78
    Frequently. In our palliative care, we see many patients who see relatives or visions before they pass. I can't say I've ever seen a patient upset about it other than if they were trying to reach the person and couldn't.
  8. by   Katnip
    I've seen this a few times. And I've seen people get "that look" on their faces. Sometimes they won't say a word, but they seem to be looking past what's there in front of them to something or someone else and look peaceful and happy.

    I bet hospice nurses have a lot of stories they could tell you about this.
  9. by   EDValerieRN
    When my aunt passed away after a battle with cancer, she sat straight up in bed, raised her arms toward the sky, and said "they're beautiful" and then passed away calmly.

    I've had a patient tell me the angel was there for her on the CT table.. she died a few hours later...

    If a patient sees angels, I'll round up the code cart. Many of my patients have also wanted to sit up, to put their feet on the ground... I don't know why that is, but they seem to pass away soon afterwards.

    I've found you can also tell by a look in their eyes sometimes... it's a glassy look, like they've already left. Hard to explain, but once you see it, intuition really tells you what's up.
    Last edit by EDValerieRN on Dec 23, '06 : Reason: bad spelling... it's early!
  10. by   Jo Dirt
    Quote from thedistance
    Yes, both my grandfather and a family friend recently. There is a phenomenon known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome where people (especially those with bad eyesight) have visual hallucinations that seem completely real, although they know logically they aren't. It's very upsetting to the patient.
    I did some reading up on this when my f-i-l was seeing dead people walking around his trailer and sitting on his couch. From what I found, CBS usually occurs when a patient is socially isolated and is suffering from advanced macular degeneration...their eyes play tricks on them and the hallucinations are very complex and life-like. I'm not sure this is what caused his hallucinations, they did slow down when he went off his Parkinson's meds but he says he still sees two figures in his room at night. I don't think they are angels of death but probably floaters or blind spots.

    I don't know what to think about supposed "deathbed visions." I've been around a number of dying people and I've never seen anything from them like talking to people who we couldn't see.
    One time I had a male patient who was terminal who would tell us that around 7:30pm every evening there would be a man who would come in his room. My colleague would freak out and run around telling everyone the angel of death was visiting him and it would be anytime now.
    So the next evening we were in the room with him and he said, "there he is" and pointed to the corner of the room. We started questioning him and when we asked if the man said anything the patient looked at us like we were crazy and said flatly, it's a shadow...

    Okay...then he laughed and said, and it looks like there's a monkey over his shoulder. It was the shadow of a tree that would show in his room when the sun started to set. :trout:
  11. by   puggymae
    I have cared for many patients who spoke of little children dressed in white sitting by their beds watching them or talking to them. Usually the patients die within a day or so of starting to mention these children. I have always assumed they were just angels Whatever they are they seem to comfort the patients (hope when I go I get to see a few!).
  12. by   CuriousMe
    My Mom saw her deceased Mom a day or so before she passed. After a 10+ year battle with cancer, she was in a lot of pain at the end. Those times when she was seeing and talking to her Mom were the only times she looked peaceful.

  13. by   Phen
    Very funny, motorcycle mama... Death seems to be a very strange thing & each person's experience is unique. Haven't personally had these experiences but some people pass on with a struggle while others do so calmly sort of with serenity.
  14. by   lisacsu84
    i haven't had this happen with patients but the same exact thing happened when my grandpa died. He was not with it at all, having trouble breathing, then all of a sudded he sat straight up with strength he definitley did not have stared at the wall smiled than layed back down and died with his whole family around him. It was very strange but kinda cool because he seemed happy