Who do the dying talk to?

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I found this article (via The Daily Grail) to be interesting for a number of reasons, though there is nothing in it that hasn’t been chronicled hundreds of times before. Read it and then come back.

Why the Dying See Their Deceased Relatives Before They Go – And What My Dying Mom Told Me She Saw

This kind of story always brings out those who feel the need to immediately dismiss it as “just” this or “just” that—hallucinations, side effects of pain meds, lack of oxygen, yadda yadda. But these experiences are very common and well-known to those who care for the dying. It is a documented part of the process for many people. So why is there the need to dismiss or make light of these experiences, which are meaningful and powerful not only for those dying, but for their loved ones who witness them? 

What good does it do to tell people, “Pay no mind to these things. They are just delusions. Your dear mother was hallucinating. Your father was not there—that’s nonsense”? Are you educating them—as you might suggest—or are you reacting instead to your own fears that what was experienced might possibly be exactly what it looks like?

And then there is the description of the lucid dream at the end of the article, which resonates with something that happened to me. A couple months after my father died (I was 18), I dreamed I was in my childhood home, and I went into the basement. My dad was there. I walked over to him and hugged him tightly. As I was hugging him, I suddenly realized he had died, and couldn’t possibly be there with me, so I pulled back and looked at him. He was smiling mischievously, as if to say, “Ha! I got you!” At that instant, the shock immediately woke me up and I started sobbing intensely because it finally—thanks to that electrifying moment—sunk in that he was gone, forever.

Although I can rationalize it away—and many would say I should rationalize it away as just a dream based on some inner psychological need—it felt like it was a real communication from him.

But that’s silly, right? It’s harmful to believe in any sort of contact with the dead because, well, such things are known to be impossible because consciousness is just an epiphenomenon of the brain, which is just neurons and neurotransmitters and electrical activity in a pile of atoms and there is no proof that such a thing as the soul exists and….

Then you’ll have to pardon me if I tell you to keep your silly opinions to yourself smile emoticon

Michael Hughes
Written by Michael Hughes

Michael M. Hughes is a writer and performer. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

1 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    September 03, 2015

    If all we are is swirling chemicals pushing around other swirling chemicals, what does it matter what we believe? All things are then pointless and the world will collapse into nothingness with nothing meaning anything.

    I don’t advocate that view; far from it. I’m just always confused when people who believe that have issues with people who believe differently. How will your belief change anything in the end? If it doesn’t, then why do you care so much that you feel the need to push your view and try to “re-educate people”?

    Thank you for sharing this; it’s always a good reminder. Hospice workers that I know have the most wondrous stories about these things.

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