Different Areas of Evidence for the Afterlife

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 End of Life Experiences and "deathbed visions"

In all cultures people who are dying start talking to loved ones who have already died in the days before they die. Sometime they say that they can see beautiful places in the spirit world and hear beautiful music.

There are many cases on record with the Society of Psychical Research where the spirit visitors were seen by others at the bedside of the dying person, sometimes by several persons at the same time:

• in one well documented case a death-bed apparition was seen by the dying woman, Harriet Pearson, and three relatives who were caring for her (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Feb 1904: 185-187)

• in another case of a young boy dying, two witnesses independently saw his recently deceased mother at the child's bedside (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Volume 6 p.20 ).

Deathbed visions are consistent with and support the other evidence for afterlife. Of those who will experience conscious death, fifty to sixty percent will experience a vision of the afterlife.


These "deathbed visions" were rarely mentioned in the scientific literature until the late 1920's, when they were studied by Sir William Barrett, a professor of physics at the Royal College of Science, in Dublin.

He became interested in the topic when his wife, a doctor, arrived home one night and told him about a woman who had died at the hospital that day after having a baby. Just before she had died the woman, Doris, sat up and become very excited about seeing a wonderful place and said that her father had come to take her there.

What was most amazing was the fact that the woman was surprised to see her sister with her father. It seems that the sister had died only three weeks before. Since Doris had been so ill, she was not told that her much loved sister had died.

This story was so interesting to Professor Barrett that he undertook a systematic study of death-bed visions. His was the first scientific study to find that the mind of the dying patient is often clear and rational. He also reported a number of cases in which the doctors and nurses or relatives present could also see what the person dying saw.

His book, published in 1926 was called "Deathbed Visions". In it he noted that:

• many times at the moment of death people would see a friend or relative at their bedside whom they thought was still living

• in all cases when it was checked out, the person they saw had already died.

• dying children often expressed surprise that the angels they saw waiting for them didn't have wings.

In the 1960s Dr Karlis Osis of the American Society for Psychical Research did a pilot study of deathbed visions that confirmed the findings of Barrett. His finding were:

• the most common type of vision was of people who had died before them
• the visions usually lasted a short time, five minutes or less
• the dying patients stated that the visitor had come to take them away
• it made no difference if the dying person did or did not believe in the afterlife
• most of the patients in the study had not received drugs which could confuse their minds.


In 1977 Dr Osis and his colleague, Dr Erlenddur Haraldsson, published "At the Hour of Death". This book extended the original study and included reports from over 1000 doctors and nurses in India as well as the United States. In all it reported on the deaths of more than one hundred thousand people. These studies all found the same things as the earlier studies.

According to the information provided to him by nurses and doctors:

• only ten per cent of people are conscious shortly before their death
• of this group one half to two thirds have near death visions
• these people see their loved ones, see scenes of the next world and suddenly are very happy and excited for no medical reason.

* Professor Erlendur Haraldsson What will you see when you die? - Professor Erlendur Haraldsson talks about his work with Karlis Osis.( 2011 Seminar) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyA8yG0LRlY


* Melvin Morse

In his book "Closer to the Light—Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children", Dr. Melvin Morse says that death-bed visions are 'a forgotten aspect of life's mysterious process' and that they can comfort and help the dying patient and the family (1993: 65).

He talks about several cases where dying children began to see visions of the afterlife during the last few days of their lives. They described amazing colors and beautiful places and relatives they sometimes had not known existed.


The importance of deathbed visions

In his book "Parting Visions" (1994) pediatrician Melvin Morse says

• family members who know about the visions of the dying are known to spend more time at the dying person's bedside.
• spiritual visions empower the dying patients making them realize that they have something to share with others
• spiritual visions remove all fear of dying in the patient and are enormously healing to the relatives
• they can prevent burnout on the part of nurses and doctors
• if attended to they can dramatically reduce wasteful medical procedures that are often painful to the patient. He claims that 30-60% of the American health care dollar is spent in the last few days of a person's life and 'most of it is spent in useless procedures that do nothing to prolong life' (Morse 1994: 136).



In this video interview Dr Peter Fenwick and Dr Sam Parnier talk about deathbed visions.


Dr. Peter Fenwick, author of The Art of Dying,
Toward a science for death related phenomena and consciousness/

Dr. Peter Fenwick on "Experiences surrounding near-death and dying" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlXK68tMm7Y

Dr. Peter Fenwick Consciousness and Dying- Interview with Iain McNay
Author of several books including 'The Art Of Dying,' 'The Truth In The Light' and 'The Hidden Door' neuro-psychiatrist Peter Fenwick talks about his research into End of Life Experiences and deathbed phenomena and what these mean in the greater picture of who we really are. www.conscious.tv

* Dr. Peter Fenwick:"End of Life Experiences - A Spiritual Perspective" Dr. Peter Fenwick (2011 Seminar) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP9lM82F_Tc

Dr. John Lerma is a hospice director from Texas.
He claims to have interviewed more that 30,000 people on the verge of death and that there are predictable spiritual experiences that precede dying. These , he says, start with visits by spirit people up to four weeks before death. He is the author of 'Into the Light: Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits, Visions of the Afterlife, and Other Pre-Death Experiences'. Here he talks with psychic medium Marla Frees. Essential listening.

IT's ANNECDOTAL, BUT AFTER 30,000 People saying the same thing, there has to be something to it.
Alternative podcast: Learning from the Light: Pre-death Experiences.



BECKY HAWKINS shares 30 years experience with the dying http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl5cu1H4Hss

MARTHA ATKINS More to dying than meets the eye: Martha Atkins at TEDxSanAntonio 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg8WAv0YT9c

wrote a wonderful book Final Gifts - Understanding the Communication of the Dying. Audio interview with Maggie Callanan on Final GIfts. 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kojj-OrS5Jk


HOSPICE STORIES - Retired Hospice Chaplain - Rev. Katherine James Klemstine- Radio interview.

Hospice nurse Trudy Harris shares more than 40 true stories about what lies beyond death and what the living can learn from the dying. Her patients' visions of angels, sightings of departed loved ones, and sounds of ethereal music open a window onto the next world, providing comfort and assurance for those facing death and loss.

WENDY PARKER A hospice nurse shares two of her stories about signs from people who have passed. These signs bring comfort to the family.


Carla Wills Brandon

Carla Wills-Brandon M.A. LMFT, PA is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of 13 published books, became interested in deathbed visions when her own son had one when he was just three years of age. Visited by an other worldly visitor who shared that he was there to take his grandfather with him, her son was confident his ‘Da’ was all right. In 3 of her books, One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions, A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences, and Heavenly Hugs: Comfort, Support, and Hope From the Afterlife, she not only re-examines the research of Barrett and Osis, but also takes a look at many recent experiences.

Shared Death Experiences

There are many reports that people who are sitting at the bedside of a dying person experience going into the spirit world and meeting relatives who have already died with that person.

Onlookers at the bedside of the dying often have profound spiritual experiences. The onlookers interpret their experiences as an empathic co-living of the passing away of a person who actually died. In terms of their core elements, shared-death experiences are indistinguishable from classic near-death experiences.

Therefore, shared-death experiences seem to call into question materialist neurophysiological explanations of near-death experiences. For the onlookers are not ill or injured, yet they report the identical phenomena reported by survivors of cardiac arrest or severe life-threatening illness. This analysis discusses shared-death experiences in terms of their (1) phenomenology (i.e., common characteristics) and (2) implications for rational study of the question of life after death. http://www.eternea.org/SDE_definition.aspx

In his recently-released book "Glimpses of Eternity", Dr. Raymond Moody explores the area of deathbed visions and shared-death experiences. In one chapter, Moody discusses a strange mist that is sometimes reported over a deathbed. “They describe it in various ways,” he writes. “Some say that it looks like smoke, while others say it is as subtle as steam. Sometimes it seems to have a human shape. Whatever the case, it usually drifts upward and always disappears fairly quickly.”




Scott Taylor recounts his shared-death experience at the 2014 Conference for the International Association for Near-Death Studies.

* RAYMOND MOODY Shared Death Experiences: An Analysis of the Characteristics and Implications


* MATTHEW O'REILLY "Am I dying?" The honest answer.
Matthew O’Reilly is a veteran emergency medical technician on Long Island, New York. In this talk, O’Reilly describes what happens next when a gravely hurt patient asks him: “Am I going to die?”

I See Dead People: Dreams and Visions of the Dying | Dr. Christopher Kerr | TEDxBuffalo







Rebecca Brown challenges our American discomfort with death by sharing experiences from her work with hospitalized adolescents and young adults who are suffering or dying. She suggests that our "pornographic" relationship with death creates fear, anxiety, and loneliness for those who are dying, and that for the living, the illusion that death is avertible, unnatural, and obscene. Brown is the founder and director of Streetlight, a support program that partners premedical and healthcare students with young people who are living with a chronic illness or fear of an early death. Preliminary research reports the experience to be transformational for both patient and the healthcare student.

On the Internet

To learn about further ongoing research work see the Internet site of the University of Virginia Division of Personality Studies.


* Visions trips and crowded rooms
David Kessler

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