Hospice patients reported incredibly vivid dreams. Image Credit: Louis Janmot
A new study has been looking in to the remarkable dream experiences of patients who are at death's door.
The research, which focused on terminally ill patients at Hospice Buffalo in New York State, sought to document the dreams and visions experienced by those who were nearing the end of their lives.
Intriguingly, it seemed that for those living their last days on Earth, dreams held a much greater significance and served to provide comfort while also reconnecting them with lost loved ones.
One woman, whose name was Jeanne, described encountering her long-lost family members.
"I remember seeing every piece of their face," she said. "I mean, I know that was my mom and dad and uncle and my brother-in-law. I felt good. I felt good to see some people."
Another patient - Maggie - had vivid dreams about reconnecting with her sister.
"So I said, Beth, you've got to stay with me," she said. "I'm alone, stay with me. She says, 'I can't. Not now.' And then she says, 'Soon we'll be back. We'll be back together.'"
Study leader Dr. Christopher Kerr admits that he started out highly skeptical about such experiences, but soon started to appreciate both their significance and therapeutic value.
"Instead of having this fear of death," he said. "It almost transcends the fear of death to something bigger. What's clear is people are universally saying this feels more real and different than any dream I've ever had before."
The precise nature of these experiences however is not well understood.
"When they wake up crying because they've been so deeply moved by something," said Dr Kerr.
"That just should be respected. Period."
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