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they see dead people

Posted

Specializes in psychiatric nursing, med/surg adult care.

In my 7 years of clinical nursing experience, I have encountered many incidents wherein dying patients, especially cancer patients in do-not-resuscitate status, would see relatives who apparently were already dead.

Yesterday while I was in a patient's room giving some instructions to the family; the patient, a 56 year-old female, with breast cancer (lungs, and bone metastasis), dying, in DNR status, suddenly raised her hand like reaching for something. Blankly staring at the ceiling, she struggled to speak, thanking her parents whom she said have finally arrived to fetch her so the three of them can fly together. She was pronounced dead after almost 2 hours after that incident.

It's like they were just hallucinating of some sort due to rapid deterioration of mental faculties. But it still makes me wonder why they tend to "see" their parents or other close relatives instead of say, angels or Elvis? :specs:

In my 7 years of clinical nursing experience, I have encountered many incidents wherein dying patients, especially cancer patients in do-not-resuscitate status, would see relatives who apparently were already dead.

Yesterday while I was in a patient's room giving some instructions to the family; the patient, a 56 year-old female, with breast cancer (lungs, and bone metastasis), dying, in DNR status, suddenly raised her hand like reaching for something. Blankly staring at the ceiling, she struggled to speak, thanking her parents whom she said have finally arrived to fetch her so the three of them can fly together. She was pronounced dead after almost 2 hours after that incident.

It's like they were just hallucinating of some sort due to rapid deterioration of mental faculties. But it still makes me wonder why they tend to "see" their parents or other close relatives instead of say, angels or Elvis? :specs:

this is a very common phenomenon with the dying.

90% of the time, they see loved ones who have passed.

the other 10%, do see angels or religious figures.

it is thought that those who've died and come to take the pt, are the pt's spiritual guides...

i.e., energies that pervade our souls with love.

i've worked inpt hospice long enough to r/o hallucinations.

dear Lord, the things i've seen.

it's breath-taking to observe, and (mostly) a great source of comfort for the pt.

i love it when pts get these visitors.

leslie

Ruthiegal

Specializes in LTC, Disease Management, smoking Cessati. Has 28 years experience.

Absoulutely sure it's a hallucination? What about the woman in the next room who wants her drapes closed because she is seeing the angel of death looking in.... an hour later the woman in the room next to hers dies.....

tatara

Specializes in psychiatric nursing, med/surg adult care.

document.png Re: they see dead people

Absoulutely sure it's a hallucination? What about the woman in the next room who wants her drapes closed because she is seeing the angel of death looking in.... an hour later the woman in the room next to hers dies.....

>hmm...hallucination plus coincidence?

Perhaps her 3rd eye is open, or she really does have paranormal powers which is so cool!

I honestly don't know.

Cherybaby

Specializes in Derm/Wound Care/OP Surgery/LTC. Has 10 years experience.

I remember when my husband was in ICU. Threw a few pulmonary emboli to the lungs after a standard ORIF surgery on his left femur. There were a lot of touch and go hours there where his doc was pretty sure he wasn't going to make it through. My husband remembers nothing about those three days...except for a "visit" from his grandfather who had died some 30 years earlier. He swore it wasn't a dream, but rather, he was able to "feel" him coming to take him away. Eventually, my husband stabilized and that feeling went away. He still believes that his grandfather came to tell him that, while he was close to "coming home", that it wasn't his time to go...gave him a hug, and let go of him.

The detail that he describes this phenomenon in is incredible...and has stayed with him all these years later.

The detail that he describes this phenomenon in is incredible...and has stayed with him all these years later.

when my grandpa died (i was 22), i was devastated.

shortly after his death, i had a 'dream' where it was just grandpa and me.

it showed me uncontrollably crying and asking him, "are you finally with grandma?" (who had died 6 mos before)

he put his hand on my cheek...

and even in the dream i fully remember not being able to feel his hand, but DID feel the warmth of it, on my cheek.

and he answered, "it's a long way from ny, but yes, i'm with your grandma".

i don't remember anything after that.

but 29 yrs later, i remember his hand/warmth, as if it was yesterday.

i know we talked.

stuff like what your husband and millions of others have experienced, really does stay with you for life.

i consider myself incredibly blessed, to have been a part of so many of my dying pt's experiences.

it is truly a privilege.

leslie

I've mentioned this book, Final Gifts, in the hospice forum. It helped me a lot when I first became a hospice nurse to understand that these are not simply hallucinations to be medicated but real experiences. It is called "Nearing Death Awareness" in this book

http://www.amazon.com/Final-Gifts-Understanding-Awareness-Communications/dp/0553378767/ref=pd_cp_b_3_img

"Impressive insights into the experience of dying, offered by two hospice nurses with a gift for listening. The "final gifts'' of the title are the comfort and enlightenment offered by the dying to those attending them, and in return, the peace and reassurance offered to the dying by those who hear their needs. Callanan and Kelley describe a phenomenon they term "Nearing Death Awareness''--which resembles somewhat the near-death experience sometimes reported by individuals revived after being clinically dead. Nearing Death Awareness, however, develops slowly, and the dying person seemingly drifts for a time between two worlds. Attempts by the dying to communicate about this awareness, often expressed in symbolic language or gestures, may be misunderstood by those around them, who dismiss the expressions as mere "confusion''. According to the authors, dying messages fall into two categories: descriptions of what they are experiencing (such as the places they see, the presence of others no longer alive, or their knowledge of when death will occur) and requests for what the dying need for a peaceful death (a reconciliation, for instance, or the removal of some barrier to departure). To illustrate, Callanan and Kelley include numerous examples of Nearing Death Awareness from their years of caring for the dying. And they offer practical advice not only to involved family members but also to professional caregivers on how to recognize, understand, and respond to a dying person's messages. No lugubriousness or false cheerfulness here, but acute observations and astute advice on a difficult topic"

sharpeimom

Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,. Has 20 years experience.

when my mom, who had breast cancer died, she had been unconscious for 5 days and unresponsive to all but severe pain. about midnight, she stirred and began to speak coherently. she would pause, seeming to listen to someone, then answer. she apparently was talking to my late father, her parents, and her older brother who had been killed in wwll, based on the names she used and the answers she gave. it seemed they had come to reassure her and welcome her into the next life. while all this was going on, she was totally unaware of me or my husband herb. we were right by her bed. she did, however, squeeze my hand back when i squeezed her hand. she died about 2:00 am.

kathy

sharpeimom:paw::paw:

I lost my sister (30 years old) in Hospice a few years ago to brain cancer. A few days before she died she told us that she was on a dirt road, with wheeping willow tress swaying along the path... along the path were all of the friends/family who had passed. Some she had known, some she had not, all chanting her name, as if they were rooting for her to "cross the finish line". She also often spoke to a little boy who was in her room making a mess with his crackers, his toys, etc. We could never figure out who it was until one of the hospice nurses told us that before her in that same room was an infant whose parents wanted to hold him without all the tubes, so they transferred him to that Hospice room.

My opinion is that our loved one reach out to greet us as we are passing so we will have no fear. After watching her pass, I have no fear of death. If death can be peaceful, hers was and I am so grateful to know that she was welcomed into Heaven by people she loved.

mustlovepoodles, RN

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

I just have to share my story with ya'll. Well, actually, it's my father's story. My grandparents had this big ol' cat. Napoleon was part bobcat and he was HUGE. He tolerated everyone but my grandmother. Granny could do anything with Nappie and he adored her! As dad tells it, when Granny died her her long dead Nappie came to visit her. My Granddaddy looked at my Dad and said,"Do you see that?" and there he was, curled up next to Granny, her stroking his long coat. When my grandfather was dying, my dad once again saw Nappie, curled up in Granddaddy's lap.

My father died an agonizing death from mesothelioma. He refused pain meds most of the time because he didn't like how loopy they made him feel. He didn't give up until the last 36 hours of his life when he finally consented to have a morphine drip hooked up. We talked for a few minutes and I told him that this was his getting off point. He agreed. Then he went to sleep. Dad only woke up once, about 2 hours before he passed. He opened his eyes and patted the bed. My sister and I SAW with our own eyes little cat footprints move up the blanket and stop by my dad's side. Dad began stroking and patting the spot. Then the little footprints went up to the top of the bed and "jumped' off. My sister and I distinctly heard a cat's soft squeak(Nappied didn't meow) and then purring. It was so vivid we looked under the bed! After Nappie's visit, Dad settled down. I told him that his mom & dad would be coming for him in a little bit and he needed to go with them. He smiled, but did not wake up.

I don't know what exactly we saw. I didn't see an actual cat. But I clearly saw evidence of "something" on that bed.

My mom died from ovarian cancer almost 6 years ago. Towards the end, she was seeing people who had previously passed away. At one point she told me they were all lined up in the back of the room and she said to me, "don't you see them?" I didn't see anything and was totally freaked out by it at the time because I didn't understand what was happening, but then she said that they were telling her that she'd be with them soon and not to be afraid. She seemed comforted by it. I asked the hospice nurse about it later and she explained that it's common in those who are dying of a terminal illness. A few months before she died and was still in relatively good health, she had a dream where her mother who had died 20 years prior appeared to her and told her the end was coming and that she'd be waiting for her on the other side.

My mom was on NO drugs (other than chemo) during this time so it was not a drug induced hallucination. I know science has tried to explain this by saying it's the dying brain causing these hallucinations, but after witnessing this first hand, I really don't believe it can be explained this way. I mean, why wouldn't the dying person see other types of visions and why do just about all terminally ill patients see their dead relatives?

tatara

Specializes in psychiatric nursing, med/surg adult care.

I can't believe this extra-ordinary thing really happen around the world! I thought this is just due to the superstitious nature of Asians.

Thank you guys!

I will really google more of this subject. Might as well suggest the topic to my thesis consultant. (don't know if feasible :D)

nursefromthemountain

Has 15 years experience.

Who knows why they do not see Elvis, or Angels? Thank goodness that when people die, they have someone, or something special to help them move on. Both of my parents passed on in 2007, my mother 1st, who from what I am told was reaching out to her parents, then, my father, who was so lonesome for my mom, that I know he was going on a journey looking for her. There is someone out there for all of us, at least that is what I believe.

Pepper The Cat, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology. Has 35 years experience.

I had a pt who coded post surgery. She told me that she was going towards a white light when she was met by an angel who told her that is wasn't her time yet - she needed to go back.So she did.

I had goosebumps when she told me her story.

When my dad died I could feel him in the ER.....spooky weird feeling....(He had passed a couple hours before I could get to the hospital...)

I do believe that people hang around to say goodbye to their loved ones even after they have left their body....

DLS_PMHNP, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 12 years experience.

i consider myself incredibly blessed, to have been a part of so many of my dying pt's experiences.

it is truly a privilege.

leslie

Leslie,

Your patients are truly fortunate to have you for their nurse, and you are a credit to the nursing profession!

Fondly,

Diane, RN

AngelfireRN, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in med-surg, psych, ER, school nurse-CRNP. Has 15 years experience.

We don't know who my Grandmother was seeing before she died, but the last time my DH came to see her (he was dropping me off so I could spend the night with her at the hospital) she told me that she wanted to go to bed. As she was already in bed, I said, "Grandmother, you're in bed already, just go to sleep if you want."

"I am not in bed, I'm standing in the kitchen."

"No, Grandmother, you're in bed."

At this point, she looked in the corner, where NOBODY was, and said, "Hmph, does it LOOK like I'm in bed?"

DH turned chalk white, said "Mrs. DW's grandma, I hope you feel better soon", and BOOKED. Absolutely refused to go back in that room, and offered to take me back home so I would not have to stay with "them".

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED.

When my grandfather was dying of emphysema, I went to visit him in the hospital. My Aunt, who was making the decisions, was praying for a miracle and would not put him on comfort care. That night, I had a dream that I was breaking him out of the hospital. I had him in a wheelchair and was pushing him down the hall, and helicopters were chasing us, and alarms going off, spotlights all over the place, like some kind of movie jailbreak. He died that day.

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