If you find the concept of a dead loved one greeting you on your deathbed impossible or ridiculous, consider what I finally realized as a parent: You protect your children from household dangers. You hold their hands when they cross the street on their first day of school. You take care of them when they have the flu, and you see them through as many milestones as you can. Now fast-forward 70 years after you, yourself, have passed away. What if there really is an afterlife and you receive a message that your son or daughter will be dying soon? If you were allowed to go to your child, wouldn't you?

While death may look like a loss to the living, the last hours of a dying person may very well be filled with fullness rather than emptiness. Sometimes all we can do is embrace the unknown and unexplainable and make our loved ones feel good about their experiences.

Possible Responses and Tips
  • There's really no point in telling your dying father you think he's hallucinating or that his mom has been dead for several years and can't possibly be there.

  • Instead of disagreeing, try asking him, "What is your mom saying?"

  • Say, "Tell me more about your vision." Perhaps Aunt Betty is telling your father that it's okay to die or maybe they're reminiscing about growing up together.

  • Say, "It's great that Aunt Betty is here with you," or "I knew that Mother would come to meet you," or "I'm so glad that Mom is with you now."

  • Denying their reality will only separate you from your loved one. So join and explore this profound time of life.
The saying goes, "We come into this world alone, and we leave alone." We've been brought up to believe that dying is a lonely, solitary event. But what if everything we know isn't true? What if the long road that you thought you'll eventually have to walk alone has unseen companions?

I would welcome those of you who have had an experience of your dying loved ones being comforted by those already deceased to share these stories here with others. In sharing our stories, we will see that the journey at the end of life is not a lonely path into eternity. Rather, it may be an incredible reunion with those we have loved and lost. It reminds us that God exists and birth is his miracle that carries us into life. A deathbed vision is his miracle that carries us though the transition of death into the next part of our eternity. I look forward to your stories and comments.

David Kessler is the author of Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms (May 2010) as well as the co-author with Elisabeth Kübler Ross of On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons. Visit his website for more help and resources.

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