On Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 The New York Times published a piece written by Jan Hoffman, “A New Vision for Dreams of the Dying.”article
The article describes conversations and provides links to interviews with individuals who are in hospice care, near their deaths. Dr. Chris Kerr, a Buffalo Hospice palliative care doctor has been doing research into this area and finds that mostly the dreams comfort the patients. A small number revive unresolved conflicts or unpleasant situations.
My own view on dreams rests soundly on the knowledge that nothing about the human body is accidental. We are designed toward health, healing, and wholeness.. When we’re cut, individual blood cells march toward one another to seal off the injury. When we haven’t eaten, fat cells yield their energy. Need more oxygen? Heart beats faster. Why would dreams be any different? They express needs that the human being has to remain whole, healthy, and healed. The dreams of the dying are getting the dreamers ready to do something they’ve never done before.
In my own experience dreams that were told to me near death have a numinous feeling. They were “big” dreams even if they dealt with every day experiences. Almost all of the dreams I have heard included the companionship of a dog, even for individuals who didn’t have dogs. It was as if the psyche was providing an instinctual guide for the journey.
There are many, myself included, who believe there are many planes of existence. We live on the concrete plane of the physical world, but occasionally the veil between worlds opens and there is a glimpse far beyond what we know. The night after my mother died, I had an incredible dream.
I went out onto a balcony with a small dog at my heels. The balcony jung over a huge body of water, and I could see far, far, far down into the water–farther than anyone could possibly see, and I could also se in the distance, far, far, far.
I felt that the dream was a special gift to me, and that my experience of having sat with my mother as she was dying, I had been given a glimpse of eternity.
I want to shout out praise for Dr. Kerr who is taking serious interest in individual’s experiences as they approach their death and also for the NY Times for bringing this important news to us. Dreams are an important part of the life of the mind. We do nothing to earn them, but they are there guiding us through our lives, and even with us, preparing us, helping us resolve, and get us ready for the transition from this life to whatever comes next. It is wonderful news that the medical community is taking dreams seriously because it means doctors and health care providers are helping dying people keep their dignity and the significance of their experience, and are not abandoning them in life’s last transition. Listen to Jeanne as she describes her dream and experience.