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Not a Near Death Experience: A Shared Death Experience

Nurses Article   (13,978 Views 22 Replies 1,233 Words)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 88 Articles; 227,873 Visitors; 1,815 Posts


Despite the fact that I'm a skeptical person, I had a supernatural and profound experience with death. Not a near death; a shared death. Let me tell you what happened.

Not a Near Death Experience: A Shared Death Experience

Like many nurses, I've witnessed many deaths. I've seen patients go suddenly, and seen some hang on, only to pass when a particular family member arrived- and even while still deeply unresponsive.

I've left a shift with a patient barely hanging on, and said good-bye- and amazingly, they were still there the next morning when I returned. I've seen enough to know you can never predict the time of death although there are signs when the end is near.

These things I know. But what happened to me last week is something I didn't know and had never heard of before. Naturally skeptical, I wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't happened to me.

I've heard of near death experiences, but I have never heard of a shared death experience- until it happened to me a week ago. It was profound and indescribable but here's my best effort.

The Background

My ex-husband and I had been married for nine years and divorced for over thirty. I had wanted the divorce. We had both re-married, but he had never really let go, and believed that he and I would get back together someday. I didn't have the same feelings, and we hadn't talked in years.

This past year he had been in a wheelchair and most recently in a nursing home.


It was a Saturday, and with the help of the nursing staff, he ate breakfast and then lunch as usual.

Later that afternoon, his favorite nursing assistant sat at his bedside and shared Cheetos from a bag with him, joking and laughing.

Mid-afternoon, our daughter Jessica visited and unexpectedly found him suddenly unresponsive, still with orange Cheetos powder dust on his fingers, but with his eyes closed and not responding when she talked to him.

Jessica called the nurse in who checked his blood pressure. It was 70/45 with a heart rate of 130. Jessica texted me from the nursing home and I immediately thought sepsis. He had a large pressure injury and had lost so much weight in the past two years.

Within the hour a hospice nurse arrived and said that a form must be filled out, a DNR. Jessica protested "But he's already a DNR. I signed this form in the hospital, and I'm his power of attorney."

"I'm sure you did, and I'm sorry, I don't know what happened, but you need to sign it now or we'll have to call an ambulance and transport him to the hospital"

That evening, everyone went to say their good-byes, pray with him, play his favorite music...but finally everyone left to go home. Through it all he remained peaceful and unresponsive. Each ragged and irregular breath seemed like his last. When they left, his blood pressure was 60/30.


The next morning everyone woke up and checked their cell phones, surprised there had been no calls from the nursing home.

We decided I would go take the grandchildren to the movies and Jessica would go to the bedside.

Jessica sat with him for hours, while he continued to breathe. Meanwhile....

At the Movies

At the movies, we settled in to watch an action film complete with a teen-age heartthrob and a romantic sub-plot. It turned out to be a perfect escape from reality. Until halfway through the movie, that is.

A distracting impression came to me "Something's happening. His condition is changing. He's going."

I pushed the thought away as imagination, but it was hard to ignore. I felt like I was being asked to do something. I hesitated and almost said no...but then said yes.

I closed my eyes and the movie theater disappeared. I was with him in a different time and space. There was no sound. I could see him, or the essence of him, to my left.

He was wrapped like a mummy, with only his head uncovered. His features were not clear, like an image in an old mirror and with a sepia filter. The outer layers of fabric around his form were loose and flowing, a linen-like material but more flowy. It had no end- the fabric just merged into the dark background space around him.

He was moving upwards to the light above his head. I looked at it. A beautiful, diffuse light that was more than light-it was a place, a space, an energy. It was freedom and release and forgiveness and acceptance. I was glimpsing eternity.

He was saying "I have to go. I can't hang on" not in voice or words but clearly and to me. More clear than voice or words, a knowing.

Then I understood I was there to help him pass. He had to go and somehow I was part of it. My spirit surged and I sent my energy to help propel his spirit upwards. To pass. "It's good, yes, go. Go in peace".

It was the most profound, indescribable and most peaceful feeling I have ever, ever experienced.

Then it was over.

The movie came back, the smell of popcorn and the noise returned- the now very annoying, intrusive sounds of a scene with car squeals and gunshots.

Did this just happen? Had I imagined it all? Projected the vision? No one would believe me, and I wasn't sure I believed it.

Time: 1:32

I needed to know the time. I reached inside my purse for my phone, shielding the light from my granddaughters on either side of me. It was 1:32. Time of death: 1:32. I pictured a doctor or trained nurse coming in soon to declare the time of death and knew they would be wrong. Because I knew. The time of death was 1:32.

I decided to text my daughter at the bedside. But what should I text?

"Your dad just died"? No." Did your Dad just die?" No.

I texted simply "Weird feeling" to send out a feeler. Immediately her response came back "I think he just died".

"I know" I texted back "I felt it". Felt? What an insufficient word for what had just happened. I realized how hard this was going to be to tell anyone. It transcended words.

Time: 1:34

I looked again at the time. 1:34.

She texted me again: "I haven't called the nurse yet. Don't tell the kids."

Later Jessica would share with me "He opened his eyes just before he died and his lips moved." To which I thought, "Yes, I know. My eyes were opened as well."

I was humbled that somehow I was included in his passing. Humbled because I was chosen (?) allowed? to witness his passing. To glimpse eternity as a mere mortal.

I am less skeptical and not afraid of death. I want to share my story to help others who may have had similar experiences and I hope it gives comfort.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Nurse Beth is an Educator, Writer, Blogger and Subject Matter Expert who blogs about nursing career advice at http://nursecode.com

15 Followers; 88 Articles; 227,873 Visitors; 1,815 Posts

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3ringnursing has 25 years experience as a BSN and specializes in ICU; Telephone Triage Nurse.

1 Article; 8,308 Visitors; 542 Posts

"No one would believe me, and I wasn't sure I believed it".

I believe you.

The death of someone close and immensely loved still stings over a year later - thank you for helping me (still trying to come terms with, and make sense of it) through your own experience.

I'm also real sorry about the illness, decline and premature death of your ex husband. I hope your family is able to find some peace due to his loss soon.

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5,180 Visitors; 216 Posts

Oh Wow!

Some bonds last long after we think they are broken.

I had a similar experience with my ex-spouses death. The person was the love of my life. The marriage was the nightmare. We divorced and my spouse died 18 years later.

I was driving home from work. It was around 9:00 am. The radio was playing a song I used to sing to myself when things went really bad early into the marriage. Suddenly all the emotions came back and I found myself sobbing and crying out aloud in the car. Later that day I found my ex passed away that time.

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1,298 Visitors; 2 Posts

Hello nurse Beth. What an incredible experience, thank you for sharing. I think life in all its forms is miraculous and precious. For your former special person to share his cross over to the next existence with you I think is so powerful.


Rod, RN

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965 Visitors; 15 Posts

I couldn't hold back the tears as I read this narrative as well as the comments. What an experience. Somehow I felt some emotion of regrets. I don't know why but I think it could be because I had put myself in the writer's shoes and wished I hadn't parted with my husband if I knew we would share such bond.

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1,659 Visitors; 20 Posts

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am go glad that you took the initiative (and perhaps risk) to share your experience. I feel gratitude knowing that your share will help other's who may have pre-determined ideas about the so called "here-after." My awareness of these accounts has helped me better accept the passing of loved ones because I feel more secure in the knowledge that there is more to "this life" than meets the eye. While we may not always perceive it based on temporal situations and circumstances in this life, the Universe is a place of Love and connectedness. We can participate in this Love and connectedness anytime.

God Bless You and Yours...

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586 Visitors; 5 Posts

This happened to me and my brothers when my MOM passed 2 years ago. We all had different "Feelings" at 545 in the morning. My mom passed when they checked on her at 0630. I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace at 545. It's powerful.

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retiredmednurse has 36 years experience and specializes in med-surg, med oncology, hospice.

1,812 Visitors; 63 Posts

I also had a similar event, though I was only about 10 years old at the time. The person was my aunt's (by marriage) mother. As I was going up a few steps behind my parents, I got this sharp and clear vision in my head of my aunt's mother, Hilda, laying dead on her bed. She was dressed for the day, and the bed had been made, and she laid there peaceful with her gray hair loose. I had only seen her hair braided in life. I said to myself, she can't be dead. It never occurred to me that she could be sleeping. She lived only a few houses away from where we lived. About 30 minutes later, (the time it takes to drive from her house to where we were), an elderly gentleman came and told my aunt that Hilda was dead. I had never told anybody this story til I was past high school as I felt I would be teased for making it up. To this day, that vision can come back if I let it.

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1,661 Visitors; 52 Posts

I am sorry to hear about your ex-husband. May his soul RIP and may God give you and his family the strength. I totally believe what you have described and its not surreal. Its not absurd or dramatic , but something that cannot be explained but only felt. I had the same experience with my dad. I am very close to him and he passed away at 64. I was halfway from airport to the hospital and I felt like my dad was walking on the road and I tried to look out from the window but couldn't see clearly as the windows were foggy and I told my aunt who was with me in the car that something has happened and my dad had left us. That's the beauty of the love of the souls and I still feel him.

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kkbb has 1 years experience.

3,084 Visitors; 113 Posts

What an amazing and touching story. I believe that there is so much we do not understand.

My mom and I were on a road trip many years ago. As we drove home she told me about the odd dream she had had the night before. In the dream, death had come to the door to take my father. Our dog would not let death enter and said "they need him here, so take me instead." My mom was upset when telling me about her dream. When we got home my dad came out to meet us at the car. He had been crying. He told us that our dog had died unexpectedly during the night.

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494 Visitors; 1 Post

Hi Nurse Beth, I have been a nurse for over 35 year and experienced many strange events when I have been with my patients. First, it is a privilege to assist in the birth of a child and equally a privilege to share in the death of a patient. I have found that as I care for some of my patients, some of them do become dependent on me. I maintain a professional boundaries, but I do get to know the patient and their families if I have cared for them for a long time. On several occasions I have been on annual leave when a patient has been expected to die and heard a `knock` either on a door / wall/window/ boat hull, when one of my patients has passed. It seems to be their way of saying goodbye. I have always instantly `known` who has passed. It still happens now. Like you, I am not afraid of death, though I am not ready yet.

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