Alyson G. was unable to attend the final moments of her dying father’s life, but her sister was there. According to Alyson’s sister, their father had two very lucid moments that were astounding.
“First, he had been in a lot of pain and in-and-out of consciousness but at one point he sat straight up in bed, turned to my mom, took her hand and said, 'I have always loved you.' This was remarkable considering my father never talked like that and they had a long and unhappy marriage.
His second lucid moment--
seemingly able to leave his painful, delusional state for just a minute--was when he called to me and asked me if she could see the beautiful garden in the room. He exclaimed over-and-over, 'It’s so beautiful.' "
What made his comments so remarkable to her sister was that she did not know if he was on his medication when he said these things because she would often find his pills lying on the floor after she would administer them. But, even if he was on the medication, his final statements were far different from any other remarks or words he had said during the days’ prior.
Interested in near-death, shared death or after-death communication? Discover The University of Heaven's blog Illuminating https://www.theuniversityofheaven.com/blog/
Michael Tymn decided to drive to California to pick up his mother, Margaret, for what turned out to be their last Thanksgiving together. Perhaps he knew, on some level, that she was not long of this world and hoped to connect with her again before she passed.
“My mother, Margaret, died in my arms the day after Thanksgiving 2003. She was 87 and suffering from severe dementia, the result of a number of strokes in preceding years. It is not what she said, but the tone in which she said it, that stands out in my memory.
We were living in Depoe Bay, Oregon and my mother was in a rest home in Berkeley, California. Even though she was not mentally competent and gave no indication she recognized me or my wife, Gina, we decided to drive down to Berkeley and bring Mom back to Oregon for Thanksgiving. We had a fairly large bedroom and were able to squeeze an extra bed into it so that we could keep an eye on Mom.
The night before she died, Mom was jabbering away constantly. I could not make out what she was saying, as it was all gibberish, but it sounded like she was pleading with someone or arguing with someone through most of the gibberish. After we awoke that morning, Gina prepared Mom for the car trip back to Berkeley. I was in the process of carrying her from the upstairs bedroom down to the ground floor, one step at a time, walking sideways, when I saw her eyes roll back in her head and her head fall back a little. She apparently gave up the ghost at that time.
In retrospect, I think all the pleading or arguing during the night was one of two things:
1) She was pleading with deceased loved ones to help her leave the body; or
2) She was so afraid of dying that she was arguing with them, telling them that he didn’t want to leave the body.”
Perhaps Margaret was afraid, or perhaps she was arguing for just enough time to see her son the morning before her death. Communicating with the unseen is very common in the end of life as are utterances that sound like gibberish or may be confusing to loved ones.
One thing is for certain; Margaret is now free of her dementia, the restrictions of her body and any pain she may have felt. For Michael and Margaret, the synchronicity of being able to see one another before Margaret’s passing, was a beautiful gift to both of them.
The conversation Julie Geiser and her sister, Lisa, had with their mother Marlene before her death in December 2016 was quite surprising to both of them, considering prior accounts of their mother having a hard time accepting her own decline.
“A few days before she died of long-term cancer, my mother who had been sleeping most of the time as she approached the end, was awake and became quite animated.
She said emphatically, ‘I’m admitted! I’m admitted! I’m admitted!’ a number of times. My sister and I thought, you can be admitted to a hospital, a university, a movie, and to heaven. My sister asked her, ‘To heaven?’ And my mother said ‘Yes!’
Lisa asked if my grandmother was there and my mother said ‘Yes!’ Lisa also asked about other relatives by name and my mother said ‘Yes!’
I was on the phone for this exchange as I live in Australia and my mother and sister were in Chicago. My sister knew this would be one of the last times we’d have together, so I was very lucky to be part of it, if even by phone.
I asked my mother on the phone if she would be there for me, when it’s my turn, and she said. ‘I will! I will!’
Over the next half hour, she also said, ‘It’s wonderful here. I feel good. Don’t be afraid. I’m not afraid.’
I was so happy to know that my mother, who had not been so accepting of death was making the transition to a place that appeared to me (or to her) to be welcoming. I heard excitement in her words ‘I’m admitted!’ although speech at that point was difficult.
In the months prior, I’d also felt the presence of my grandmother (her mother who died in 2001) and one night I sensed her with me and heard the words, ‘Don’t worry, she won’t be alone’ and that she would be holding my mother’s hand when the time came.
So to know that my mother saw her own mother, that she was really there for my mother at the end to help guide her, is a true blessing for me.”
Between the presence of Julie’s grandmother prior to her mother’s death, and Julie’s mother proclaiming with excitement her admittance into heaven and the peace that awaits her, Julie is given a gift of relief as she knows her mother completed her spiritual transition guided by her grandmother and will one day be there for Julie when it’s her time.
VISIONS vs. HaLUCINATIONS
Doctors, nurses, and hospice care providers all shared with me that conversations and visitations with loved ones can occur in dreams, in dream-like states or in lucid states. Medical providers also made a clear distinction between hallucinations and visions. Hallucinations are a product of medications, and do not have the flexible or transpersonal quality of visions.
Whereas when people had visions, they could speak about or with unseen figures in the room, such as deceased relatives, angels or other characters, but could also connect back to those in the room with them and be in present time and reality. However, people whose unusual perceptions were caused by medication are not able to step outside their perceptions and move easily between what they were perceiving and the literal reality shared with others in the room.
Several end-of-life researchers have written about the unique conversations with and perception of the unseen at the bedside of the dying. The figures are visible to the dying but usually not to the living and are also called “takeaway figures.”
Read more about the research and the fascinating stories related to them in Dr. Melvin Morse's Parting Visions, Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley's Final Gifts, John Lerma’s Into the Light and finally Osis and Haraldsson’s 1977 classic What They Saw at The Hour of Death.
You can also discover more about nearing-death awareness and shared-death experiences at www.theuniversityofheaven.com and in its blog Illuminating.
What do final words reveal about consciousness?
Welcome to THE FINAL WORD, the blog of The Final Words Project, a forum for sharing final words accounts and the compelling language of end of life.
This one comes from Linda Engeseth.
Linda Engeseth was called to the bedside of her father. She was told to come quickly because he was nearing his death. As she rushed over to his nursing home, what she experienced was more than just her dying father. Linda got a glimpse, through her father’s accounts, of how beautiful things may be on the other side.
“My father was in his 11th+ year of Alzheimer’s. He was in a home, and I was called at 3am and told to come as soon as possible, because he was dying. As I sat at his side, he rolled over in bed, looked me directly in the eye and said, plain as day (like he was perfectly lucid), “I’m dying and I’m scared.” He had not spoken clearly like that in years. He lay back down, then stared at the ceiling, looking in wonderment like a child at Disneyland, and said “Isn’t it beautiful?” He kept reaching toward the ceiling with both hands and said, “Mamow, Mamow” over and over again.
My mother (they were divorced) later told me that that was what he called his grandmother when he was a child. It was definitely his time, and he needed to go, but watching him during that experience was so intense and beautiful at the same time, and took every ounce of the fear of dying away from me.”
Like Linda, when we see these uncharacteristically joyful moments experienced through our dying loved-ones, we can’t help but drop away our own fears related to dying. The sheer joy and peacefulness that sweeps over their faces, allows us to shed our own fears around the inevitability of death and dying.
We would love to hear your stories or experiences. You can contact me, Lisa Smartt, at email@example.com or submit your account on our website at http://www.finalwordsproject.org/share-your-story.html
This account was shared with the Final Words Project by Jane Popkin about the last days and utterances of her father Morris London and her mother Pessy London.
Jane's account includes many elements common to the language of the threshold: premonitions of dying, emergence of gibberish, a deepening tranquility and peace, and synchronicities and visions connected to those who have died before us.
"My father was 93 and lived in a nursing home.
He was very alert and oriented and suffered from end-stage congestive heart failure; he loved to talk to people all his life and was a favorite of all the staff. The month before he died, he told me that he was dreaming that my mother was sleeping in his bed next to him. (He slept in the lift chair where he could breathe more easily.)
My mother died in the same nursing home eight years earlier. He had never told me he dreamed of her before and seemed surprised how real it felt to him. The Wednesday before he died, I was visiting him, and he told me "I saw your mother sitting on the bed"--not I dreamed of your mother.
I said, 'Did this feel real to you?'
He said, 'Yes.'
That next morning I received a call from the staff that he had slipped out of his lift chair and I should come in. When I got there, he was sitting up in his wheelchair, and did not have is glasses on, he was awake and had his eyes closed. I asked him if he was okay. He said ,'Yes.'
I asked him why he had his eyes closed.
He said,' I am comfortable.'
I told him that my brother who lived out of town was planning on visiting.
He asked, 'When?’
I told him, 'In a few weeks, dad.'
He said, 'I can’t wait that long. I will not make it until then.'
I went up to the nurses’ station where the nurse had been in to see him. The nurse said, 'I think there are changes happening now.' And I agreed.
We immediately called in hospice for him. Later that day, a nurse’s aide who sat at his table for breakfast said that my dad would not eat breakfast that morning, and she asked him why and he said, 'I am dying.'
The rest of the day he slept. That night he woke up and our family was there, his speech pattern changed, and he did not seem confused--just his words were different. (I wish now I had taped him!)
There was no change in medication yet, no morphine given.I spent the night in his room by his side. He started talking in his sleep, really sounded like gibberish. I could not understand a word.
He had never done this--and he was gesturing with his hands like I have never seen him do! My dad was the youngest of 11 siblings and all of them had died before him. They all liked to talk and at family get-togethers. It was hard for anyone to get a word in!
I kept thinking that I felt like he was talking to his siblings, just how animated he was in his sleep! That was Thursday night, and the next morning he was given morphine since his breathing significantly worsened and he slept after that and never spoke or woke back up until he died early Monday morning.
His death was peaceful and he was ready. The staff told me he told them he was ready, but he knew it would be hard on me. I was by his side until he died, and I kept telling him I was ready for him to go--and I would be okay. As an aside, early Monday morning before he died, I was the only person in the room.
I kissed him good night, his breathing was very slow and irregular, but I knew he would not die when i was watching him. I lay down on the cot near his bed and fell asleep, a few minutes later something woke me up. I do not know what, but when I looked at my dad he was no longer breathing.
Eight years earlier, I was at my mom’s bedside the same way in the same nursing home at the same time of the night. She was also not responsive by that point. I also kissed her goodnight and fell asleep and a few minutes later a nurse woke me up to tell me she had passed. My mom had a stroke and could not speak the last few days of her life. The only words she said were, 'I want to go home. I want my mama.'"
References to going home emerge frequently in the accounts as do references to our mothers and fathers. Synchronicities such as the one Jane shares here are also common--especially connected to anniversary days, times of day, and locations.
Have you heard about the cat Oscar who lives at a nursing home and has accurately predicted the deaths of 50 patients there? Well, Oscar’s finely-tuned talents may not be unique to him.
“People’s pets communicate clearly,”hospice director Nina Friedman told me yesterday, “and they seem to connect in unusual ways to the soul of their owner.”
Hospice professionals from Connecticut to Atlanta to San Francisco have described to me that dogs often become fiercely protective in the hours before their master dies.
“One gentleman who passed away this weekend had a very loving poodle who for many weeks was very friendly to hospice workers when they came to the home. However, on Saturday, the dog would not let any of us in the front door. The dog growled and barked and threatened to bite...It was as if the dog was marking out a territory around the man’s bedroom.
It is not unusual to see animals react in very unusual ways right before their owners die. It was as if the dog was telling us to stay away and let his owner pass away in peace--as if the animal knew something we didn’t….felt something we didn’t…”
I heard similar accounts from other hospice professionals.
Could it be as pack animals, instinct leads our dogs to protect the dying and their kin from possible predators during these final, vulnerable hours? Some folks have shared with me that their pets left behind their homes and families to die alone. Perhaps there is an instinct connected to dying alone.
Many years ago, my dog Spreckels walked away from my husband’s job site, and we never saw the dalmatian again although he was a loyal pet for 17 years.
Whatever the reasons may be, it appears that our pets may be aware of certain cues or messages that clearly communicate that death is approaching —and will let us know.
Attached find an article about Oscar “the psychic cat." He clearly is tuned into some form of communication that many of us humans still do not fully understand.
If you have an account to share about the pet(s) in your life, please comment here or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joy B. describes her father as a 'very scientific, hard-facts-only kind of guy, a chemical engineer who loved to argue against the existence of god(s), spirits, angels, or an afterlife, and often said, 'If people need such beliefs, that is fine. I have no need of them.'
"In November 2014 he began saying he was tired of living, that the effort to stand and walk even a few steps was becoming more painful and frightening since he couldn't breathe well. He said he wanted to die, and wished we could "Just get him some pills or something". He was "just plain tired of living like this."
I began discussions with his wife Terry and doctor so we could get a plan together. On January 9, 2015 he began telling Terry that he was being visited by his deceased mother and brothers. She did not like him talking about it and wouldn't listen. I came the next day, the 10th, to give him his shower.
When I arrived at 8:00 am, he was sitting propped up in his bed as usual, but he'd taken off his oxygen tubing and had it coiled on his chest. He had a smug, knowing look on his face and his arms were crossed with an amusing sort of pride. He said "Well, today's the day. I don't need that anymore."
I smiled, pulled up a chair and asked, "What do you mean, Dad?"
He said, "I saw my brother and my mother. They came and talked to me. I'm ready to go!"
We didn't talk about it any more that day. Three days later, I came early to get him up and he was animated and talkative, like he couldn't wait to tell me some exciting news! He said "She came to me, and she held up 3 fingers." (He held up a thumb and two fingers.)
I asked "Who, Dad, who came to you? Was it your mother?"
He nodded yes with a broad smile. He went on: "She said 'This one is Bud [first of the family to die, his younger brother] and this one is your other brother [who died in 2014] and this one is YOU!' [touching his thumb]. "And she was happy that she was going to have all three of us! She looked marvelous!"
Dad got tears in his eyes while he was talking. He told me this story a couple of times and he was smiling a lot. He was very happy. A few days later, again in the early morning, he said "Oooh! They took me on quite a ride!" He said this with much drama and had a big smile. His eyes were half-open and his eyeballs were darting back and forth while he talked, like he was remembering a real experience.
He said, "They took me way out there and we saw lots of people and then they brought me back." Another time, out in the living room sitting on the couch, he motioned with his hand, making a big arch and saying, "She showed me one of those, you know what those are?"
I guessed an arch-of-triumph type thing, like with balloons, or a rainbow, and he nodded yes to both. He said, "She was making that just for me! and she looked so wonderful."
I asked if this was his mother and he nodded yes. He said, "And they all reached out their hands.." (he smiled broadly and his eyes were darting back-and-forth while remembering.)
I asked "Did you touch their hands?" and he said "OH YES! It was wonderful --their hands-- hundreds of them!" He motioned with his hands, reaching out and grasping.
And smiling all the while. Another time, motioning with his head to where Terry usually sits (she was out shopping), he said, "She was gone in the car ... so they came and took me for another ride! It was a wild one! Whew! They didn't want to bring me back but I asked them to! This time we went WAAY out there!"
Again, he talked dramatically and with big smiles, like it made him very happy to remember. "
This account has many of the elements we have heard and seen frequently in the transcripts we have collected over the last five years: descriptions of unusual ways of moving through space, rides or trips, and the appearance of deceased loved ones. Christopher Kerr and his team at the Center of Hospice and Palliative Care have done extensive research into the dreams and visitations of the dying that resonates with the hundreds of final words from The Final Words Project. Discover more here:
Kirsten Cox shares this account of the final words of her father, Gerald Adams.
She described her dad as a kind man who made others feel important. “He always cared more about listening to what you had to say, rather than being concerned about what he wanted to say.”
Kirsten explains that her father was not religious, so the words she heard on his deathbed very much surprised her:
“My father passed away in 1998. My brother and sister had already flown down to the hospital in Florida while I was a day later in arriving. My dad was somewhat lucid when I arrived at his bedside and once I arrived, he told the nurse ‘I'm ready to go now.’
The nurse looked puzzled and told him, ‘Mr. Adams, you know we can't do that.’ My dad was on no pain medicines, and only on a mild relaxant, valium.
Shortly after I arrived, all the other family members left the room, and left me alone with my father. He looked at me and I took his hand, and he told me:
‘I was waiting for you to come, I was standing at the edge of a ring of bright light. You were way over on the other side of the ring of light and my father, and mother and brother Dean were standing on the side with me, welcoming me to come with them. When you came, I knew it was okay then and I was ready to go with them because they had been waiting for me to be ready.’
My dad’s mother, father and brother Dean had all passed before my Dad. I believe that he held on until he could see me and be with me once more before he left. It really floored me because my Dad was not known to be "religious" in nature. He said he believed in a higher power, but didn't believe in worshiping in a church. He was the most honest person I know, and he never exaggerated anything for attention, no drama, just a real down to earth kind of guy."
**** ***** ***** *****
This story has so many of the elements we have heard and recorded through FWP and also commonly appear in near-death accounts: images of light, deceased relatives waiting , a clear boundary between the living and the dead/dying , staying alive long enough to say good bye to the people who matter to us and a sense of being at peace.
Four months have now passed since the publication of Words at the Threshold.
Among the blessings of getting published are the many people I have met and the abundance of final words we have recently received through the FWP website. (We are still collecting accounts and transcriptions. Every one we receive is a precious gift. Thank you!)
I have decided to share many of these with you—with participants’ consent of course—to build upon the examples and ideas published in Words at the Threshold. I will blog three times a week with a different account each post. Nothing complicated. Mostly just the stories. They speak for themselves.
Sometimes I will say a word or two about how the specific account relates to the patterns and themes we have discerned or how they may represent a new pattern. But mostly just hearing the words of the dying speaks of the ineffable mystery of the threshold.
Right now I am reading Of the Light by Dr. David Lerma. The book was recommended to me by my colleague at Cohearence, Dr. Melvin Morse, author of several books, including Parting Visions in which he talks about the dreams, premonitions and visitations of end of life. There are so many great books out there. I will continue to let you know about the ones that I am reading, that nourish my deep curiosity.
So here is the first in a series of 100 blogs with 100 accounts of last words. I hope you receive them with the same sacred wonder that we do. Please feel free to comment or ask questions.
From Robert B. : Is it Time?
“My brother was in his death bed. He was dying of pancreatic cancer. The whole family was around him. We knew it was close to his time, but of course nobody, especially our mother, wanted to see him go. He was quiet for several days. Did not say much.
But then at this moment as we were all around him, he looked up toward the ceiling and asked out loud, “Is it time to come now?”
We, of course, did not hear the answer. But it seemed he did. He then closed his eyes and died.”