Deathbed Visions: Apparitions and Religious Entities

Dying people have seen loved ones and spiritual beings before death. Much has been written about near death experiences, but little about deathbed visions.

Deathbed visions are the appearances of ethereal beings to the dying near the time of impending death. These are usually apparitions of deceased loved ones, family or friends; however they can be spiritual beings such as angels and religious figures.

Usually these entities are seen and reported by the dying, but, sometimes those present at the imminent time of death have reported witnessing the apparitions. In the majority of these occurrences, the apparitions portend the death of the person or are there to help him or her make the transition from this world to the next.

Many people are familiar with Near Death Experiences, NDEs, due to the media and books about this phenomenon, but fewer people are aware of deathbed visions which may have religious aspects.

Religious Aspects of Deathbed Apparitions

Visions at the time of death, whether they’re announcements or omens of imminent death or escorts for the newly dead, are part of many cultures and religious ways of life and date back to antiquity.

Shamans from different cultures are adept at journeying from the land of the living to the Otherworld of the dead and are able to act as guides for dying people.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead gives detailed instructions for the soul’s journey to the afterlife. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is used by Buddhist monks to help guide the souls of the dying through death to their next incarnation.

Some Christian traditions have guardian angels, Jesus, angels, the Madonna and other saints as the guides.

Darien Deathbed Visions

In the early 1900s, two highly respected psychical researchers, philosophy professor James H. Hyslop of Columbia University, and physics professor Sir William F. Barrett, of the University of Dublin, researched deathbed visions.

They were especially interested in the peak in Darien cases. These are when dying people saw apparitions, intelligent ghosts of people whom they thought were still alive and couldn’t have known that they had died.

Respected Parapsychologist Karlis Osis’ Categories of Deathbed Visions

In 1961, the late psychologist and esteemed psychical researcher analyzed six hundred and forty questionnaires answered by physicians and nurses about their experiences in observing over 35,000 people’s deaths.

Osis categorized two types of deathbed visions: ones that were nonhuman, such as landscapes and nature, and specters of people. His research confirmed earlier studies’ findings, that dying people saw apparitions.

With the assistance of fellow psychical researcher and psychologist Erlendur Haraldsson, Osis conducted two more surveys of physicians and nurses, one in the United States and one in India. Their findings confirmed Osis’ earlier research about deathbed visions. There were more apparitions of religious figures in the Indian surveys.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross MD and Deathbed Apparitions

The psychiatrist is known for her pioneering work with dying people and death. As she started to practice, she was appalled by the hospital’s treatment of terminally ill patients. She had opportunities to observe patients who had deathbed visions and those who had experienced NDEs.

Kubler-Ross began to try to change this treatment and was feeling discouraged because of her colleagues’ opposition to her work when she had an experience that encouraged to continue her mission.

She was working at a Chicago hospital in 1969 when the apparition of a deceased patient, Mary Schwartz, appeared to her. Kubler-Ross was told not to abandon her work because life after death was a reality.

Grey Lady: A Shared Deathbed Vision

This account, from a large London hospital’s records, was published in the prestigious UK’s Society for Psychical Research’s Journal in the September 1959 issue.

Six patients, who didn’t know each other, and died talked about an apparitional nurse, dressed in grey, who was helping them deal with their imminent deaths. The patients’ details matched each others’ – exactly.

Deathbed Visions: Proof of Survival Theory?

According to survival theory, a part of humans and other animals survives death of the physical body. The evidence to support this is appearances of apparitions. They can be seen, heard, smelled, felt by touch, tasted and sensed.



The entities have intelligence and interact with experients, both humans and animals. There’s documentation that animals have reacted to apparitions, as well as becoming one of them. Anpsi is animal psychic ability.

Current research on death and dying indicates that a person’s personality or spirit survives death of the physical body. There have been documented cases of reincarnation. The problems are that survival theory cannot be proved by the scientific method and can’t be explained by existing known laws of science.

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