The dreams of patients at Hospice Buffalo in New York are providing insight into what people see and experience in the weeks and days before they pass away.
Pittsburg's KDKA-TV reports that Dr. Christopher Kerr and his colleagues have long been documenting the dreams and visions of dying patients – dreams that he says make the process of passing into eternity a comforting experience.
After 10 years and 14,000 cases, Kerr notes, "What's clear is people are universally saying this feels more real and different than any dream I've ever had before."
For instance, a patient named Jeanne shared a vivid dream, saying, "I remember seeing every piece of their face. I mean, I know that was my mom and dad and uncle and my brother-in-law. I felt good. I felt good to see some people."
According to Kerr, "You're physically declining, but inside, you're very vibrant and alive."
When it comes to terminal children, who KDKA-TV reports often don't know of anyone who has died, their experience tends to be different. Instead of dreaming of people, Kerr notes they often dream of pets.
"I dream about my old dog Shadow, that has passed away," one girl named Jessica explained.
Kerr admits he was initially skeptical of the whole idea.
Recalling an incident with one of his patients at Hospice Buffalo, he said, "I walked in and the nurse didn't even look up. And she said, 'No, no, he's dying,' and I said, 'Why are you saying that?' And she said, 'Well, he's seeing his deceased mother,' and I was like, 'Yeah, right.'"
"Everybody but me was able to prognosticate death in part based on what people were seeing or experiencing," he said.
However, now Kerry acknowledges that the experiences of those who are dying are very real and should be treated with honor.
"When they wake up crying because they've been so deeply moved by something – that just should be respected. Period," he said.