It’s one of our biggest questions: what exactly happens when we die? Death is but a mystery of life. Some call it our ‘next big adventure’.
Patients at a Hospice in New York are revealing some incredibly insightful knowledge, about their slow process of dying.
Dr. Christopher Kerr and his Hospice team have been observing and documenting dreams and visions of their patients for years.
They were enlightened to find that these dreams and visions were comforting for the patients, making them feel less frightened by death and the unknown.
Among all of these documented dreams, many of these patients were visioning the ones they miss the most.
Many of these patient interviews were recorded, and in one of them a man named Horace explained one of his dreams “All of a sudden, my wife appeared”.
A woman named Jeanne described just how vivid they are: “I saw every piece of their face. I know that was my mom, dad, uncle, and brother-in-law.” She continued: “I felt good. It felt good to see those people.”
A patient named Maggie dreamt about her sister, who had passed away before her. When she saw her sister she said “Beth, you’ve got to stay with me”, her sister replies with “I can’t, not now”. But then finished by saying “I’ll be back soon, then we’ll be together again”.
When Dr. Kerr first started his position at Hospice Buffalo, he was not aware that patients had dreams or visions. His mind had never been opened to such a possibility. “Doctors aren’t trained to deal with these dreams” and so he was skeptical. But then he was proven wrong, over and over. As he began studying the dreams – he realized that they’re therapeutic for the patients.
In his 10 years at Buffalo Hospice, over 14,000 cases have been documented, with the help of his team. These dreams are reported as feeling more real and very different than a typical dream.
In one interview, Dr. Kerr spoke with a patient named Gregg Liebler, in it, he described who he sees in his visions.
Liebler: “My grandmother and grandfather are both passed.”
Dr. Kerr: “Have you had any dreams of them?”
Liebler: “Yes. I see them often.”
It seems that quite often it’s the ones who loved and nurtured them, that will return in their dreams.
In the interview, Dr. Kerr asked if this dream felt good.
“It sure does,” Leibler responded.
Just three weeks after this interview, Liebler, unfortunately, passed away. Dr. Kerr said that these dreams happen more frequently as death gets closer, and there are common themes, like upcoming travel.
“You’re physically declining, but inside, you’re vibrant and alive,” said Dr. Kerr.
Sometimes the dreams also allow people to address unresolved issues.
A patient named Patricia felt relief after delivering a message to her deceased husband: “I told him, ‘You should have taken care of this, and I want you to know that I’m really angry that you didn’t,’ and he smiled.”
When children are dying, they often don’t know any people who have passed, so they dream of deceased pets.
A girl named Jessica explains her dreams: “I dream about my old dog Shadow, that has passed away.”
“They’ll come out of these experiences, and say they want to go back,” said Dr. Kerr.
Dr. Kerr can’t explain what causes these dreams, we don’t know the spiritual, religious or scientific meaning. This is something we may never understand. But understanding them isn’t the point. Kerr’s goal is to simply record what’s happening and he’s not sure that there needs to be an explanation.
“When they wake up crying because they’ve been so deeply moved by something,” said Dr. Kerr. “That just should be respected. Period.”
- Who You See Before You Die: Hospice Documenting Patients’ Mysterious Dream Experiences, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/02/25/hospice-buffalo-death-dreams-study/
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