The impact of deathbed dreams/visions on the bereaved
Rivera, Wendell P.
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End-of-Life Dream/Visions (specifically, visions of dead relatives and friends providing reassurance and/or religious figures among those with strong religious convictions) have significant implications for dying patients, their families, and immediate caregivers (Mazzarino & Willett, 2010; Fenwick, Lovelace, & Brayne 2009; Fenwick & Fenwick 2008). The prevalence and significance (to the dying person) of end-of-life dreams/visions and bereavement dreams/visions has been well documented. However there are scarce data regarding the effects of the dying person's deathbed dreams/visions on the bereaved. This study used a mixed methods design to examined the psychological and emotional impact of the patient's end-of-life dreams/visions on their family, friends and/or caregivers. Forty percent of the respondents either witnessed behaviors consistent with deathbed dreams/visions, or their deceased loved ones reported these visions during their last days or hours of life. Similar to the Moldova study (Kellehear et. al., 2011-12), and a study in India (Muthumana et al., 2010), the most frequently sighted person in the current study was a deceased mother, followed by a deceased father, and deceased spouse. The majority of respondents perceived that end-of-life dreams/visions enabled their deceased loved one to have a peaceful death, and described these experiences as pleasant. Based on this study, mental health professionals working with patients facing their own mortality can begin to educate patient's relatives and friends about end-of-life dreams/visions as they work on alleviating the anxiety associated with losing their loved ones and other psychosocial distress.