Deathbed Visions of Visitors
Anecdotes of deathbed visions have appeared in literature and biographies throughout history across many cultures. However it wasn’t until the 20th century that the subject received scientific study. One of the first to examine the subject seriously was Sir William Barrett, a Professor of Physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. In 1926 he published a summation of his findings in a book titled “Death Bed Visions.”
More extensive research into these mysterious visions was carried out in the 1960s and 1970s by Dr. Karlis Osis of the American Society for Psychical Research. In this research, and for a book he published in 1977 titled “At the Hour of Death,” Osis considered thousands of case studies and interviewed more than 1,000 doctors, nurses, and others who attended the dying. The work found some fascinating consistencies.
Although some dying people report seeing angels and other religious figuresthe vast majority claim to see familiar people who had previously passed away. Children have even been surprised that these visions are lacking the wings they expect to see from an angle. Very often, the friends and relatives seen in these visions express directly that they have come to help take them away.The dying person is reassured by the experience and expresses great happiness with the vision. The dying person’s mood, sometimes even state of health, seems to change. During these visions, a once depressed or pain-riddled person is overcome with joy and momentarily relieved of pain until death strikes. Whether or not the dying person believes in an afterlife is irrelevant, the experience and reactions are the same.
We may never know whether these experiences are truly paranormal—that is until we too pass from this life. But there is one aspect of some deathbed visions that is most difficult to explain and lends most credence to the idea that they are actual visitations of spirits from “the other side.” On rare occasions, the spirit entities are seen not only by the dying patient, but also by the friends, relatives, and others in attendance! According to one case documented in the February 1904 edition of Journal of the Society for Psychic Research, a deathbed apparition was seen by a dying woman, Harriet Pearson, and by three relatives who were in the room. Two witnesses in attendance of a dying young boy independently claimed to see the spirit of his mother at his bedside.