Deathbed visions are numerous and refer to the many types of paranormal experiences reported by people who are close to death or dying. These can include seeing angels, deceased relatives or friends, unknown people, or otherworldly visitors; hearing beautiful music, seeing a bright warm welcoming light, seeing beautiful places, landscapes and colours; precognitive experiences or seeing people thought to be alive but who had actually died.
What makes these reports interesting is that sometimes relatives and nurses witness these unusual events as well. They report seeing shapes leaving the body of their loved ones or patients at the time of death, sometimes appearing in human form, rising from the body and hovering for a while before finally leaving. They also report these shapes sometimes looking like smoke, while others say they are as subtle as steam. Whatever the case, the forms usually drift upward and always disappear fairly quickly.
Other paranormal phenomena experienced during the dying process can include the room becoming brightly lit when the person actually dies, seeing unexplainable lights or orbs nearby, the room vibrating, a swirling vortex opening up, or people near to the dying person actually being drawn into the death event too, known as shared deathbed experiences.
Stories of these remarkable phenomena are quite common among nursing staff who don’t generally speak about them, and it was only 30 years ago when these types of events began to be reported in modern medical literature. Since then evidence has accumulated which has changed medical views from these phenomena being rare events to actually being quite common. These extraordinary events make it very hard to dismiss them as a result of dying brains when they are witnessed and experienced by so many others.
Why do these experiences occur? What does it mean? As evidence continues to collect there is a growing momentum that is expanding our paradigm to include an afterlife, where even though our physical bodies die we actually continue to exist in a non-physical state after death in some form. Currently our society trivialises these experiences underestimating their power to heal and transform the lives of those who experience them. The phenomena that occur around the critically ill and dying suggests that death may not be as terminal as we have been taught. To know there is an afterlife helps us prepare and face death with the knowledge that our physical life is not the end and changes our approach to how we live now, helping us to improve our behaviours and reassess our values. So it seems we probably shouldn’t fear dying because when our physical bodies die it’s probably not the grand finale after all.