has researched, in depth, the
universal phenomenon of the DBV and has included
her findings in her book,
One Last Hug Before I Go. Complete with her
own personal encounters, and those of numerous other
DBV experiencers, this revolutionary work explores
DBVs throughout history, from ancient Egypt to modern-day
America. Through the visions and experiences common
to all dying people, you will learn more about the
spiritual journey that begins with death. According
to recent studies, only about 10% of people are
conscious shortly before their death. Of this group,
50% to 67% have DBVs.
The following are excerpts
from Dr. Carla Wills-Brandon's excellent book, One
Last Hug Before I Go, reprinted by permission. Also
included are examples from
Melvin Morse's book,
Parting Visions, his research on DBVs.
Although DBVs can be
found in the literature and lore of all ages, they
were rarely mentioned in the scientific literature
until the late 1920's when they were studied by
Sir William Barrett, a physics professor at the
Royal College of Science in Dublin.
never have considered examining such a topic had
it not been for an experience told to him by his
wife, an obstetrical surgeon. On the night of January
12, 1924, she arrived home from the hospital eager
to tell her husband about a case she had had that
She had been called into the operating
room to deliver the child of a woman named Doris
(her last name was withheld from the written report).
Although the child was born healthy, Doris was dying
from a hemorrhage. As the doctors waited helplessly
next to the dying woman, she began to see things.
As Lady Barrett tells it:
she looked eagerly towards part of the
room, a radiant smile illuminating her
lovely," she said.
"What is lovely?"
"What I see,"
she replied in low, intense tones.
- wonderful beings."
It is difficult
to describe the sense of reality conveyed by her
intense absorption in the vision. Then - seeming
to focus her attention more intently on one place
for a moment - she exclaimed, almost with a kind
of joyous cry:
"Why, it's Father!
Oh, he's so glad I'm coming; he is so
glad. It would be perfect if only W.
(her husband) would come too."
Her baby was
brought for her to see. She looked at it with interest,
and then said:
"Do you think I ought to stay for baby's
toward the vision again, she said:
"I can't - I can't stay; if you could
see what I do, you would know I can't
Although the story thus
far was compelling, skeptics could still argue that
it was nothing more than a hallucination due to
lack of blood or triggered by fear of death. Indeed
Sir William Barrett may have made that very point
to his wife. Then he heard the rest of the story.
It seems that the sister of Doris, Vida, had died
only three weeks earlier. Since Doris was in such
delicate condition, the death of her beloved sister
was kept a secret from her. That is why the final
part of her deathbed vision was so amazing to Barrett.
She spoke to her father,
"I am coming," turning at the same
time to look at me, saying, "Oh, he
is so near."
at the same place again, she said with a rather
"He has Vida
with him," turning again to me saying,
"Vida is with him."
said, "You do want me, Dad; I am coming."
Could all this
have merely been wish fulfillment expressed
in the form of a hallucination? Barrett
considered such an explanation, but he rejected
it because among the apparitions of the
dead was someone whom Doris had not expected
to see. Her sister, Vida, had died three
weeks before. This explains why Doris was
a bit surprised when she saw her sister.
This story was so inspirational to Barrett
that he undertook a systematic study of
deathbed visions. His was the first scientific
study to conclude that the mind of the dying
patient is often clear and rational. He
also reported a number of cases in which
medical personnel or relatives present shared
the dying patient's vision.
The work of Sir
William Barrett did not contribute to the
theory that these visions were a form of
wish fulfillment. In fact the deathbed vision
often did not portray the type of afterlife
the dying expected. For example, Barrett
reported several children who were disappointed
to see angels with no wings. In one such
case he described a dying girl who sat up
suddenly in her bed and said, "Angels, I
see angels." Then the girl was puzzled.
"Why aren't they wearing wings?" If deathbed
visions were simply a fantasy of the mind,
says Barrett, why did this little girl see
something different from her expectations?
John was an eleven-year-old
patient of Melvin Morse who was dying of
lymphoma. In his last days, he was hospitalized
with severe, untreatable pneumonia. Though
he was having difficulty breathing and was
in constant pain, he was given very few
drugs such as morphine and Valium because
they made breathing more difficult.
Three days before
John died, a circle of loved ones gathered
around his bed. They were startled when
John suddenly sat upright and announced
that Jesus was in the room. He then asked
for everyone to pray for him.
At about three
a.m., John sat up again, startling the four
people who had gathered around the bed to
"There are beautiful colors
in the sky!" he shouted. "There
are beautiful colors and more
colors. You can double jump
up here, double jump!"
At four a.m.
an extraordinary event occurred. They were
joined by a woman who said that she had
received a strong premonition that she had
to visit John right away. She was not known
to John's parents, but her son was a playmate
of John's. She had no explanation for why
she would suddenly visit John at four a.m.
except to explain that she had had a vivid
dream about John and had felt a need to
visit him that was overpowering.
By dawn, it seemed
that life was almost over for John. His
breathing was labored, and his heart was
pounding like that of a marathon runner's.
Even then, little John had more to communicate.
Opening his eyes wide, he asked his grieving
parents to "let me go."
"Don't be afraid," he said.
"I've seen God, angels, and
shepherds. I see the white horse."
As sick as he was, John still begged his
family not to feel sorry for him. He had
seen where he was going, and it was a joyous
and wondrous place.
"It's wonderful. It's beautiful,"
he said, his hand held out in
front of him.
Soon he laid back and fell asleep. John
never regained consciousness and died two
and the incidents surrounding them intrigued
Dr. Morse. John's mother believes that through
God's mediation, John communicated with
his friend's mother. Although she knew he
had been hospitalized, it was during the
period of his most powerful visions that
she had her vision of John. Although Dr.
Morse has nothing scientific to base it
on, Dr. Morse believes coincidence was too
great for these periods of vision activity
not to be connected in some way.
deathbed account was told to Melvin Morse
by a physician in Utah.
boy was in a coma, dying from a malignant
brain tumor. He had been in the coma for
three weeks and was surrounded almost the
entire time by his family. They encircled
his bed and prayed constantly for his recovery,
taking only brief breaks to eat and rest.
At the end of the third week, the pastor
of the family's church came into the hospital
room and told them a remarkable story. He'd
had a dream, he said, in which the boy told
"It's my time to die. You must
tell my parents to quit praying.
I am supposed to go now."
The pastor was nervous about delivering
this message to the family. Still, he said,
it was a message too vivid to ignore.
"It's as though he was right
there in the room, talking to
me face to face."
The family members accepted the minister's
dream as a message from their son. They
prayed, they touched his comatose body,
and they told him that he would be missed,
but he had permission to die.
boy regained consciousness. He thanked his
family for letting him go and told them
he would be dying soon. He died the next
Perhaps the most
important aspect of this story is its cathartic
nature. This family was allowed to assuage
its grief because they knew that their son
was ready to die. Their resentment of life's
process and of God's will was replaced by
the assurance that something mystical had
report comes from Carla Wills-Brandon's
research and provides us with a beautiful
example of how medical personnel can use
these visions to positively assist in the
Our son passed over on August 4, 1997. I
believe he did have deathbed visions. The
first one happened after he had a seizure.
His heart stopped, and after he came back
to life, he seemed all right. But then he
looked at me and said:
"Mom, what happened to me?"
want to scare him, so I told him he had
fainted. He replied:
"Whatever happened to me was
wonderful! It felt so good!
I liked that!"
When my husband visited with the doctor
he told him what our son had said. The doctor
said to him:
"You do know that what your
son experienced was a near-death
When the second
vision took place, my son had been unconscious
for over an hour. Suddenly, he sat up in
an upright position! This happened very
quickly. We were so shocked, we didn't say
a word to him. We thought, "My God, he came
out of it!" so we just sat and stared.
He looked toward
the foot of his bed and then up. He was
looking as though he were seeing more than
one person. He turned his head slightly
from side to side. The look on his face
was like he was confused with what he was
staring at. Then, after a few minutes, he
laid back down and looked very peaceful.
He returned to his unconscious state and
at this point all we could do was hold him.
Not long after that, our son went into cardiac
arrest and passed on.