Dying people often experience a wondrous phenomenon known as deathbed visions. In those experiences, they report seeing and communicating with angels and loved ones who have passed away before them. They lose their fear of death and look forward transitioning to the afterlife.
The angels and souls of loved ones appear in the earthly environment, such as a hospital room, bedroom, or accident scene. Sometimes they reveal glimpses of the heavenly dimensions to the dying, as they encourage them to find peace with God and confidence for their upcoming journey. Studies have found that these visions are significantly different from hallucinations. Learn more about the wonder of these visions in my “Deathbed Visions and Angels” article and how dying people communicate about them in author Lisa Smartt's insightful book Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We're Nearing Death.
Family members and medical staff who are present with dying people also may report witnessing signs of deathbed visions. Sometimes they, too, will see angels or heavenly lights. They may also observe dying people’s conversations with presences that are visible to the dying yet invisible to the observers. My cousin told me that shortly before my Uncle Jack passed away, Uncle Jack saw and communicated with angels. Uncle Jack and I had prayed together several times while he was dying from cancer. Each time I would assure him that heaven awaited, he would say, “I hope so.” After he saw the reality of his hope through a deathbed vision, I believe he died knowing (not just hoping) that he was going to heaven.
In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I describe how learning from mysteries like mystical experiences can expand our perspective in ways that strengthen our well-being and lead us to awe. We don’t have to be dying yet ourselves to learn from deathbed visions. The wonder of those visions shows that we can think of death without fear and even let death inspire us. By keeping death in mind as we live day by day, we can focus on what matters most – loving God and each other – to use our time here well.