The Process Of Dying Remains A Mystery, As The Fear Of Death Remains A Top Fear
According to Dr. Christopher Kerr the two biggest fears people face in society is the fear of public speaking and dying. I have to admit, public speaking was fear of mine but the idea of dying is a much larger fear. I am not a Doctor obviously, but I did see my share of patients and my own mother at the end of their lives.
Dying has been and will continue to be a mystery when it comes to differing views on an afterlife or not. There are also differing theories about the brain and dying. Some researchers believe that there is heightened consciousness just before death, others do not agree with this hypothesis.
In this article Parnia explains heightened consciousness
"To her, the signals are a sign of heightened consciousness and she speculates that such spikes of activity might be a sort of built-in defence. “When the brain is in danger, it needs to be hyper-alert, so the individual can deal with a crisis,” she says."
Again, I am not a doctor, researcher or scientist but being an observer of the dying, I have to disagree with Parnia's hypothesis.
When my father was dying and I went to kiss him good night, he told me good bye. I was leaving for the night because mom had 5 children at home and knew his time was short- my dad didn't know I was leaving for the night. Friends offered to have us over so mom could take care of dad. An hour before my dad passed he asked my mom to bring him my baby sister who was 18 months old at the time so he could kiss her goodbye.
I witnessed many patients who were dying while I worked in the hospital and what I saw was quite similar with most of the patients who had been terminally ill. Some were very confused and agitated prior to death but would have a sudden surge hours before their death. It appeared their state of confusion left, they were hungry, talking to their family members as if nothing had happened and even appeared as though they were taking a turn for the better. They talked about the past and present as if their mind had never been altered. At some point within hours they would become comatose, yet many of these patients also would say things like, "I wan't to go home," look over in that corner, do you see Jimmy, he's waving to you, my sister Joan is waiting patiently for me, my parents have come to guide me home." I would hear these statements just prior to the patient falling into a deep coma. I used to think they were saying, "I want to go home," out of confusion but as years have passed, I honestly feel they meant to their final destination.
My mom was in a semi-coma 3 days prior to passing. My mom never spoke of religion or spirituality but on day 2 she awoke from her semi-coma and for appearances sake, seemed as though she was having a come back. Mom was not able to swallow, speak well, let alone drink or eat the day before. When she had her 'surge' as we called it, she said, wow- I don't know what happened to me yesterday but I'm thirsty and hungry! Mom drank 40 oz's of fluids, had some food, asked my husband if she could try his beer. After taking a sip, she whispered to him, "You really shouldn't drink that." We all had a good laugh. He was drinking a stout ale. Just the day before during mom's semi-coma she awoke a bit while I was holding her hand and told me she was seeing people. The healthcare person came out due to what I had seen many times in the past and I asked her if they were still here on earth? My mom told me no. Her eyes looked a bit fearful, actually, I'm not sure I can pull out a word to describe the look in her eyes so I was trying to tread lightly because it seemed she wanted to talk about it. So, I asked her if they were nice people? Mom told me they were! Phew, that made me feel better because mom's father had passed and they had a very bad relationship and I thought maybe she was seeing him. She could have been and her encounter may have differed from the vision I had in my mind. I went on to ask mom if she saw dad, and she became very agitated telling me, "no, no..... I don't want to talk about it!" I felt like I let her down and held a lot of guilt for some time because I didn't know why that would have upset her.
After Mom's surge
Mom was awake and feeling so well for about 6 hours or so and then she fell back into a semi-coma that night. Mom fell into a deep coma the day of her death about 24 hours later. We were lucky to have some very special extra moments with her. No one can explain what happens to a patient when they 'come back to life,' for a short period of time. Again, there are hypothesis, but nothing tangible. I want to believe it's a miraculous gift some are given but again, that's just my own hypothesis. Dying will remain a mystery, for what ever reasons it seems we aren't supposed to know what happens but I want to believe we do have lost loved ones waiting to guide us 'home-' wherever home may be after we pass.
I want to leave you with this TedxBuffalo talk with Dr. Christopher Kerr who explains his own experiences as a Doctor, not a religious person or from a spiritual perspective. I found this very interesting and thought provoking. There is video contained within his talk of a woman named Mary who was very alert and explained who she was seeing on both sides of her before she passed. I really hope you have the time to to watch this video if this subject is of interest because it left me with a sense of calm.
Last, I would love for others to share any experiences they've had with a loved one or in a healthcare setting. I'm certain there are still many stories that have gone untold, so please do share! I will leave you with the video.