Sleep is something we all need. Sleep is a break from our daily turmoil and a fresh transition to a new day. Sometimes it goes smoothly, without a hitch; sometimes it becomes something else. We all have moments when sleep gets a little quirky. However, for those facing their last days upon earth, sleep becomes a form of sanctity. Hospice services have confirmed this, assisting those making their last journey to the other side. If you have helped to make this transition with a loved one, then you know of what I speak.
Death will come to us all. There’s no avoiding it. It will happen at some point. Regardless of this realization—and cognitive of our mortality—we continue to sweep this uncomfortable destination under the rug, moving forward with what we’re doing until health or other circumstances dictate otherwise. Suddenly our time in the sun is over. Drawing to a close replaces expectations that we’ll continue about in a world we have known thus far. We might expect, by some miracle, to continue onward regardless. Only we don’t….
Our health fails and the body begins to shut down. It could be a short process or stretch over several months or even years. The soul retreats into a refuge: a dream world of familiarity with people and places we were closest to in life. Death is the ultimate mystery. Hospice workers have revealed stories of the process of dying. Dr. Christopher Kerr, at Hospice Buffalo in New York State, and his team have been documenting the dreams and visions of dying patients for many years. They’ve found common threads: that dreams are often comforting and tend to make death less scary, and, when we have little time left, many of us may see the people and events we miss the most. “You’re physically declining, but inside, you’re very vibrant and alive,” states Dr. Kerr.
Priest and writer Ralph Sarchie witnessed this for himself during the passing of his mother. “My mother was telling us about seeing my father and relatives before she passed away,” he said. “She would also complain about seeing people she didn’t know standing by her bed. Some of it frightened her, and I told her to call out for Jesus. He would protect her!”
I went through this with my mother’s passing in 2015. That last week, hospice knew she was on a rapid decline. There was sleep…a lot of sleep, and dreams where she would speak in a (her) younger voice over the monitor in my sister-in-law’s bedroom in the wee morning hours. There were times when she would come back completely lucid, and others when she was confused and frightened. She kept mentioning a strange man sitting in the corner of the room. He seemed to scare her. That last day she was in deep sleep, twitching in her bed with the death rattle in her throat. That evening she took her last breath with me holding her hand. It was over. My mother had moved on into the comforting arms of the Holy Father.
Skeptics often attribute these dying experiences—dreams and visions—to a chemical change in the brain as the body shuts down. I believe otherwise: that there is another realm that we will transition to when it is our time, where we will be reunited with the people that meant the most to us during our sojourn on this earth, and…they will guide us at the time we need them most—our death. My faith tells me this. I believe!
My website is rdhinton.com