When it comes to a loved one’s end of life, there are many common occurrences that happen both mentally and physically. From aging bodies and weaker immune systems to mental fogginess, these are all commonly talked about symptoms. But a lesser-known occurrence, and one that happens quite frequently is the end of life dreams and visions. These dreams and visions range anywhere from seeing friends and family that have passed on to unknown visiting spirits. Many patients that go through this phenomenon are often mistaken as suffering with delirium. It’s important to know what the symptoms of end of life dreams and visions are so you can better support your loved one in the right way.
End of Life Dreams and Visions Vs Delirium
When end of life dreams and visions come to mind, you might think they’re a form of delirium. However, these visions and delirium can be very different. Delirium is a type of confused state of mind that individuals can suffer from in their final days. Symptoms of delirium can include:
- Fear and anxiety
- Disturbed thoughts
Delirium is commonly caused by medications, organ failure, infections, and brain cancer. Another well-known decline of mental state, dementia, can also include some of these symptoms but it usually comes on slowly taking months or years to fully develop while delirium can emerge in days or hours. If your loved one is suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should seek professional care immediately.
End of life dreams and visions are known to be a more peaceful and fulfilling experience. These visions, happening both in dreams and when your loved one is awake, give a sense of peace and acceptance of death. Dreams can be meaningful, evoking moments from childhood or special times in their life. The themes described from dreams and visions have been those of comfort and rest. Symptoms of end of life dreams and visions can include:
- Dreams of past meaningful experiences
- Seeing visions of loved ones that have passed on
- Dreams that feel very real and vivid
- Sensations of peace and comfort following these visions
- Themes of visiting friends and family, traveling, or planning to leave
While there is no clear evidence as to why these visions happen, most reported cases start out with visions of loved ones that are still alive and end with seeing those that have passed on as death draws near. In some cases, these dreams and visions can take on more serious themes such as unfinished business and distressing memories causing your loved one to feel frightened and alarmed. But in most instances end of life dreams and visions are a welcome and comforting presence. It’s important to understand what your loved one is experiencing and going through so that you can differentiate between these visions and more alarming concerns like delirium.
How to Handle End of Life Dreams and Visions
If your loved one is having end of life dreams and visions the best thing you can do is support and acknowledge them. Putting doubt in their mind will only cause them more stress. Reacting with panic or confusion will upset your loved one and take them out of the comfort they are finding with these final thoughts. Instead, encourage them to share their experiences with you. Whether you are your loved one’s caregiver, or they are receiving professional help, this is a time for them to get the utmost support and comfort.
If your loved one is becoming upset or stressed by these visions, talk to them about what the visions are trying to say. Is it a fear of death or past actions? If your loved one continues to feel distressed, it’s best to contact a professional caregiver to lend support and guidance for you and your loved one during this time.
While it is never easy to accept that a loved one is near death, these dreams and visions can be the mind’s way of gently realizing that their time has come. Having visions of those around them in peace, and those that have passed on waiting for them, can help your loved one lose their fear of death and accept that this is their body’s natural process. If your loved one has a spiritual outlook on life, these final visions can help provide comfort and complete acceptance for what is to come.
At Hospice of South Louisiana, we provide you and your loved one with support and care during this time. We provide emotional, spiritual, and grief services to help you better understand what is happening during these final moments. If your loved one is going through end of life dreams and visions and you’re looking for professional support, contact us today to better understand and aid in your loved one’s experience.