Death is the biggest mystery in life, and one that so many people wish could be answered. But recently in a Hospice facility in Buffalo, New York, patients’ dreams are providing an insight of sorts into the process of dying.
For years, Dr. Christopher Kerr and his team have been documenting the dreams or visions of their dying patients. It seems that they’ve found the dreams to be a sort of comfort, and actually make death less scary. The most common theme is seems is that when a person is close to death, many see the people they miss most.
From these many recordings have come multiple interviews of the patients.
One of the patients, a man named Horace explained his dream quite simply: “My wife all of a sudden appeared.”
Another woman, Jeanne, went into vivid description, saying, “I remember seeing every piece of their face. I mean, I know that was my mom and dad and uncle and my brother-in-law.” She continued: “I felt good. I felt good to see some people.”
And Maggie, another patient had a dream about her sister, who passed away before her.
“So I said, Beth, you’ve got to stay with me,” Maggie said. “I’m alone, stay with me. She says, ‘I can’t. Not now.”
But while that may seem sad, her sister gave her an encouraging message, “And then she says, ‘Soon we’ll be back. We’ll be back together.”
Dr. Kerr is currently the Chief Medical Officer at Hospice Buffalo. However, he wasn’t always a believer when he first started out. However, something happened that made him open his mind. He thought a certain patient could possibly live a bit longer with some IV fluids.
“I walked in and the nurse didn’t even look up,” said Dr. Kerr. “And she said, ‘No, no, he’s dying,’ and I said, ‘Why are you saying that?’ And she said, ‘Well, he’s seeing his deceased mother,’ and I was like [laughing noise] ‘Yeah, right.’”
He was skeptical at first, but he was proven wrong over and over through observation.
“Everybody but me was able to prognosticate death in part based on what people were seeing or experiencing,” he explained.
Dr. Kerr says doctors aren’t normally trained to deal with these types of dreams, but as he began studying them and realized that they’re actually therapeutic for the patients.
“Instead of having this fear of death,” said Dr. Kerr. “It almost transcends the fear of death to something bigger.”
In the 10 years that he and his team have been documenting cases, they’ve recorded 14,000 cases. A whopping eighty percent of his patients report dreams or visions.
“What’s clear is people are universally saying this feels more real and different than any dream I’ve ever had before,” he said.
KDKA met with one of those patients, Gregg Liebler, during a visit.
Liebler: “My grandmother and grandfather are both passed.”
Dr. Kerr: “Have you had any dreams of them?”
Liebler: “Yes. I see them often.”
It turns out that Liebler’s sister, Karen Paciorkowski, is also a nurse at Hospice Buffalo.
“He was really close with my mom’s parents,” Karen explained.
“The people who loved him and nurtured him, he says the most, were his grandparents and that’s who returns to him,” Dr. Kerr said.
In his dreams, Liebler sees himself as a child again, talking to his grandparents.
Dr. Kerr: “But it feels good?”
Liebler: “It sure does.”
Unfortunately Liebler passed away less than three weeks after the interview.
“You’re physically declining, but inside, you’re very vibrant and alive,” said Dr. Kerr.
He says that has death gets closer, the dreams happen more frequently, and sometimes there are common themes such as travel or an imminent journey.
One such patient, Paul, said, “She wanted me to pack up some things for her, so I had this crazy dream, I’m packing goods.”
Sometimes the dreams even allow people a chance to address unresolved issues.
Patricia, another patient, said she felt relieved after dreaming of her husband as she was able to deliver a message to him. “I told him, ‘You should have taken care of this, and I want you to know that I’m really angry that you didn’t,’ and he smiled.”
However, when children are dying, they usually don’t know many people who have passed, so instead they seem to dream of deceased pets.
A girl named Jessica explained, “I dream about my old dog Shadow, that has passed away.”
“They’ll come of these experiences and say they want to go back,” said Dr. Kerr.
As for the root cause for the dreams – whether it is religious, spiritual, or scientific in origin, Dr. Kerr is still searching for that explanation.
“I don’t have one,” said Dr. Kerr.
He did say though that his goal is to just continue to record what’s happening as he’s not sure there needs to be an explanation.
“When they wake up crying because they’ve been so deeply moved by something,” said Dr. Kerr. “That just should be respected. Period.”
h/t: The Hearty Soul