As we get closer to the end of life, the fabric between this world and the next becomes very thin. Sometimes it seems like the dying are straddling two worlds. They often see people we don’t see and converse with them. Relatives, old friends, or strangers appear to be standing in the room. My father saw a man who stood by his left shoulder. Dad would whisper to him and listen for a response and then laugh and nod agreement. The day before he died, Dad asked me if the young man was still standing there. I told him he was. Dad smiled and nodded. “Good. Good.”
Katie reports that these “visitations” are very common with her patients and usually happen in the last week or so of life. Their descriptions of the visitors are often so detailed that it makes one wonder. Just this past week a black dog and a group of children showed up at one patient’s bedside. Another woman saw her grandmother. A few years back, a patient kept seeing “a beautiful woman dressed all in blue” standing at the foot of her bed. It’s not surprising that the most common visitor is the person’s mother. Often times these figures are standing in the corners of the room, or floating near the ceiling. Most of the time they are relatives or friends who have died, but there have also been kind strangers, animals and religious figures, such as Jesus or angels. Most patients are comforted by their visitors, but sometimes they’re frightened, worrying that the visitors are coming to get them and they’re not ready to go. In these cases a little reassurance usually helps, as in the case of a woman who kept seeing a man on a horse. Her daughter told the man to “Go away. My mother’s not ready!” And he did just that.