Marianne P's Experience
When seeing a patient for the first time in hospice enrollment I find it extremely important to try to establish a relationship of trust with them. They know on that visit that they may share anything with me and that I will always be honest with them. This brings me to a first experience:
Barbara: Young woman in thirties who had metastatic breast cancer. She had ignored her symptoms until it was too late for treatment. She felt guilt, and shame at being "So Stupid" as she explained. She also had a tremendous fear of dying and her faith, such as it was, was shattered. I involved every member of the team, especially chaplain but she turned them away. I asked her why she turned help away and she responded, I should suffer for my stupidity but I will talk to you. She also indicated that we could "Figure this dying thing out together". I made many visits and shared many experiences with her that convinced me of a life after death and that she would need to make that decision for herself, it was extremely personal and it was something no one can make you believe or not believe. I asked her to take into consideration my experiences for many years and come to her own conclusion. She asked me if she prayed, would someone hear her. I told her when I pray, I know someone is listening.
I made several more visits and she seemed more relaxed and cheerful. I asked what was she feeling. She told me she had given things a lot of thought and she felt ok about dying but she would miss her family. I told her they would miss her physical body but I believe the spirit which is energy, is not destroyed, but perhaps on a different plane of consciousness. She smiled and asked if I really believed this. I told her I would always be honest and believed it with all my heart.
When she entered into the last phases of life she wanted me to know how much she appreciated my conversation and support. She wanted to know how she could help others who were afraid like her in the beginning. She told me she would try to give me some sort of signal, if she could, that would validate all we discussed. I told her that would be fine but I much rather she did not worry about it and concentrated on her journey and being at peace.
Two days later her husband called and said he felt she would be leaving soon. I got there very quickly and went in her room where there were at least 30 people around her (very big family and friends) She had entered the active phase of dying and was quickly moving to agonal breathing. She appeared comfortable, eyes closed seeming to be unaware of her surroundings. I told her I was there at the foot of her bed. She continued the agonal breathing, opened her eyes, focused on me in the room, winked at me, and took 3 more breaths before she passed. I had never experienced anything like it. Once a person begins agonal breathing I had never seen them become conscious again even though I know they hear. As soon as she passed one of her daughters found a drawer full of hand written letters to her family telling them she was ok and not to weep for her. These were all written approx a week before her death. It was one of the sweetest experiences I have had to date but there are hundreds more to also validate life after death.
At the time of your experience was there an associated life-threatening event? No Not of my own but of my patients.
Was the experience difficult to express in words?....No
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness?....More consciousness and alertness than normal
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings?....Yes I have had dreams or visitations from deceased patients who I had become extremely close to that wanted me to give a message to loved ones.
Discuss any changes that might have occurred in your life after your experience:....Large changes in my life....I had the same type of feeling of "Not wanting to die anytime soon" due to wanting to accomplish so much more. Now if it is my time I'm ready to go on and begin my new life chapter. No fear whatsoever of dying, after being in hospice for so many years....
Did you have any changes in your values or beliefs after the experience that occurred as a result of the experience? Yes Yes, each day is a gift and there are no guarantees in life so grasp each day with happiness and gratefulness.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience?....Yes After being in hospice I am more in tune with precognition and believe it has become more developed due to continuous experience.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience?....No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened:....Experience was definitely real
What do you believe about the reality of your experience at the current time:....Experience was definitely real....
Have your relationships changed specifically as a result of your experience?....No....
Have your religious beliefs/spiritual practices changed specifically as a result of your experience?....No
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience?....No
Did the questions asked and information that you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? YesAre there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? They are all significant and precious as a great learning experience from each patient