Why the Dying See Their Deceased Relatives Before They Go

dying people see dead relatives

Why the Dying See Their Deceased Relatives Before They Go – And What My Dying Mom Told Me She Saw

August 28, 2015

My quest to understand what the dying see began when I found out that my mom only had a few months (if that) to live. I wanted to be familiar with the stages she would go through and how I could best be there for her.

One of the things I read about the dying is that often they see deceased relatives or friends right before the end. In the world I grew up in (as a Seventh Day Adventist), I was taught that such things simply couldn’t happen. Yet, I read and heard story after story of men, women and children on their deathbeds who saw their dead mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends. The same is true with people who experience “near-death experiences.”

The logical response to this phenomena is that lack of oxygen and the consumption of various drugs can do crazy things to the brain. Who knows what can occur when a person is hanging on by a thread?

As we neared the last days of my mom’s life, I so wanted to understand what she was feeling and seeing. The day before she took her last breath I decided to ask her.

First I wanted to make sure she could comprehend what I was saying. I told her I loved her, and she raised her eyebrows in acknowledgement. Then I shared a funny story about a conversation my sister and I had. The corners of her mouth turned up in a smile. I could tell that she was taking in every word.

And then I went for it.

“Mom, can I ask you a really serious question?” She turned her head and opened her eyes fully. I could tell she wanted to grasp every word that came out of my mouth.

“Mom, do you see any of our dead relatives in the room? Do you see your dad?” she shook her head to indicate “no.”

“Do you see your mom,” she shook her head.

“Do you see dad?” (my dad had died when I was 10). Her response was quite different this time. She began nodding her head to indicate “yes.”

“Is he here in this room right now?” she nodded. “Can he see me?” she nodded again. And then she tried to communicate with words, but was frustrated when she couldn’t get the words out. I could tell she wanted to share her reality with me so badly.

The next day mom was in a different realm. She wasn’t responding to me or my family members, yet she was having full-on inaudible conversations with a being I couldn’t see. Maybe my dad?

At times she would become quite animated, speaking deep within her throat and making guteral sounds. At one point, she kept shaking her head and saying “no.” It was obvious she was fighting something. I sat down next to her and tried to hold her. My sister also came into the room to let mom know she was there. I then called my brother and let him say hello.

Shortly thereafter, mom began having conversations again. When she spoke to the invisible being this time, it was as though they were having a cohesive conversation — one that I still couldn’t understand because by that time her vocal chords were shot. She’d talk and then listen and talk again. It was as though she was trying to make sense of what she was being told.

The conversation ended, and a bit later her body constricted. Her brow furrowed. Then something profound happened. Her soul (the mom I loved and treasured so much) completely left her body. Her body continued to breathe, but there were no more conversations. No more frowns or grimaces when you’d adjust her legs or back.

What I saw led me to conclude that she finally agreed to go. Could it be possible that she went with my dad? That he was sent to take her away and keep her safe along the way?

While I can’t be certain, this is what it seemed to be.

According to David Kessler, author and expert on death and dying, the following things often happen when a person is about to die.

  • The dying are often visited by their dead mothers.
  • Their hands often reach up toward a force that can’t be seen. (My mom did this)
  • Family members and friends of the dying can’t see their visions or participate in conversations.
  • Visions often occur hours to weeks before they die.

While there is no “proof” that their visions and communication with deceased family members or friends are real, some death and dying experts are adamant they should be taken seriously.

“People think it’s just confusion or the drugs,” explains Maggie Callanan. As a hospice nurse for more than 27 years, she has helped more than 2,000 dying men and women in their last days. “But frankly, the confusion is ours. The patient knows what is going on.”

Dr. Martha Twaddle, chief medical officer of the Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter, explains further: “You can write it off and say it’s a hallucination, they’re not getting enough oxygen in their brain, but no, it doesn’t apply to many people in these situations. I have to believe they are transitioning; they are in a phase we don’t understand physically or metaphysically. And it is profoundly reassuring to see it happen.”

Following the death of my Mom, I am more open to the idea that something amazing (like my father being there to take my mom away) may occur. The experience is one I can never forget — and honestly I never want to forget.

Just a few weeks ago, I was wondering why I haven’t had many dreams of my mom since she died. As I was driving home from work, I said out loud, “Mom, it’s about time you come and visit me in a dream! Where are you anyway?” I then laughed it off and enjoyed my drive through my favorite canyon.

That night while I was sleeping, it happened. I had one of the most lucid dreams I’ve had in a long time. Mom was dressed beautifully. She peered at me with a HUGE smile. Her eyes were bright and full of life. She was happier than I had seen her in years. And she was younger, maybe her 45 or 50-year-old self. We didn’t exchange any words, but it was clear that she is healed, happy and free.

I woke up with joy in my heart.



  1. I had a similar experience when my Grandmother died.
    I’d worked in residential homes for old folks so already knew the signs that death was close,having seen people dying at work.
    My Granny had been ill for a bit and on the day she died I phoned & asked the doctor to come out & visit, he insisted she went into hospital, I pleaded back and forth on the phone asking if he’d just come & see her, thinking if he did he would see himself and not make her go into hospital, the hospital was over 40 miles away & I knew she wasn’t going to hold on but I couldn’t exactly say on the phone in front of other people (& my Granny).
    We all knew she always wanted to die in her own house where she was born but no he insisted she went in.
    While waiting for the ambulance to come out, my Granny started speaking to someone who wasn’t there (for us anyway), she was looking past us chatting away, she told us that it was her father (her mother died young & she helped raise her younger brothers & sister) had come for her, she didn’t often speak about her father
    She had had no drugs and was of a sound mind, so seeing this happen definitely made me think there’s got to be more out there we don’t understand. I’m convinced he was there to help her go wherever it is we go when we die.

    • Shortly after my grandmother died, I had a dream, in this dream I’m standing in aroom, I looked down to see an answering machine, as I looked up, she was standing there, she had white pearls on a white blouse, she took me in her arms and I told her I loved her, she told me,( she called my name and) said”you know I loved you more than anything, but if I had the chance to come back I wouldn’t, I know Heaven must be a grand place, because she was the kind of grandmother that always wanted everyone to get together!

  2. Our 47 year old son had a brain tumor that could not be cured. Towards the end of his life here on earth he did not talk, his right side was paralyzed and he had his arm on a pillow. Our daughter, eleven months younger, was alone with him and all at once his lame arm went up, he was “gibber gabbering” smiling and laughing. She asked him what it looked like and he replied “Beautiful, beautiful!” He passed a couple days later with a smile on his face.

  3. Im curious to know who the author of this article is. This article was published on my birthday in the year my Mother passed, it will be 2 years this coming thursday feb 16, I was also raised a Seventh Day Adventist.
    She did speak of family who had passed, I was with her during her last hours. Also recently got to hug her in a dream & woke up feeling good!

  4. Read “Visions of Glory” by John Pontius. It explains a lot of this in great detail and why the dead visit their family.

  5. I’ve had 2 very different experiences. I was with dad till the end (passed from cancer at 58). He used to hug others, but with me, while I got my hugs from him in bed, he would always reach up and pat me on the face. This occurred more towards the end. His mom and his wife we still alive, so I’ve often wondered if he saw someone he was reaching for, or of I reminded him of his loved one that came for him? Hard to know. I was also with my grandpa when he passed and he didn’t say anything or make any hang gestures. It’s was a very peaceful passing for him.

  6. This was such a wonderful story. My siblings and I had a strange occurance while we were taking care of our Mother in her end stage of terminal breast cancer. I was living with her at the time and when I went in to check on her the person laying in the bed was my Grandpa, her dad, whom she was very close to before he passed years before. It really freaked me out. When I told my brothers what I saw they both experienced similar situations. One brother also saw my grandpa laying in the bed while my other brother saw our uncle, my moms brother who passed on years before. When she took her last breath the song Fly Away by John Denver was playing in the room. To this day that song was so fitting and yet so sad.

  7. My father passed away in my 9th birthday in 1997. I’m now 28 years old. The day after my 26th birthday I had a dream about my father but it was so realistic. He was holding a photo album with photos from my wedding and he was telling me how proud he was of me and my family. He then told me that is was so happy that I was going to have a second child. I woke up in a very surreal state. When I walked down stairs I was hit with a wave of nausea so I called my husband and asked him to pick me up a pregnancy test. I found out that I was in fact 2 months pregnant. I don’t know what happens when we pass but I fully believe there is so much more than this life.

  8. When I was about eleven, I went with my mother when she agreed to live in for the last few days of an elderly gentleman that she had been nursing by day. One night, I was woken by the sound of doors opening and closing and footsteps. Since he lived in the penthouse of a luxury building, it seemed strange. I got up and went across to the room where he and my mother were. Strangely, the hallway was silent. I opened the door and told her that the people were making a lot of noise. She got up and took me back to my room and told me to lock the door. Next morning, I woke and learned that he had died. Many years later, I asked why she had told me to lock the door. Turns out that she heard them too. She couldn’t be frightened because the old man was so joyous and he spoke to “them” by name. He was in a coma, mind you. Can’t imagine what she thought when I opened the door. Strangest thing is that the old man’s much younger wife was down the hall locked in her bedroom with a bottle of whiskey, saying that they were going to get her too. Three of us heard them, one a child. Mum never had another case like it in 60 years of nursing. So–yes–I believe they come for you. And isn’t it wonderfull

  9. Thank you for writing this lovey article. I can relate. My mother passed about 20 years ago. I was holding her in her hospital bed. Her sister, my Aunt, was present. My mother, with her eyes closed, uttered a name I did not know, and said “I know you!” My Aunt was shocked. She said it was an Uncle they barely knew. Then she smiled a smile so big and took her last breath. I saw a light emanate from her body, that I am convinced was her soul. I was so privileged to be able to embrace my Mother as she passed. It was a blessing.

  10. I have had several (visits)from dead loved ones.I say visits because that is what they were.Dreams you eventually forget
    But,visits from the other side are NEVER forgotten.

  11. My grandad past away in the 70s of dementia and the day before I died he was screaming at someone in the room that no one else could see saying no no no!!! I will not go please give me one more day and started crying he ten smiled and said there coming back tomorrow when asked whom he was going on about he said that is mum and dad add come to take him on a horse and cart the next day he died very very Strange

  12. I believe in it!!!
    The night my mum passed away i layed on her bed with her and told her how much i love her and she should go be with dad & nan. after i had tucked her in i layed in bed cried and spoke to my passed love ones and asked dad to come and get mum as i couldn’t she her go through anymore pain. I finally cried myself to sleep around 4.30am next morning i heard the curtain be drawn closed and seen the nurses standing there i sat up and one of them grabbed me and said mum had passed on.
    I was relieved but sad at the same time that Mum was a peace and pain free also with dad & Nan.

  13. Before my mom passed she kept saying I seen your face , I believe in my heart ❤️ it was Jesus coming to tell her it’s alright . My mom passed at 8:00 am I know in my heart my mom is with family & friends . .
    After the death of my husband he was able to come forth in the spirit world to let us know he was alright . I have prof , a picture tells a thousand stories .

  14. This true to the First Nations people in Canada especially the Cree nation, they do believe before they die, they see their siblings, mithers, fathers and cousins who have passed on, they even talk to them, I know that is true as I have seen people talking before they pass on, even point to the people they are talking to.

  15. I had dated a guy off and on over a six year period, and loved him. One night I had a dream that I was in his hometown and I was very upset that he wouldn’t speak to me. I kept telling people that he was mad at me because he wouldn’t speak to me and everyone kept assuring me that he was not mad at me, he was mad because he had wrecked his car. I was talking to his mom on the front porch – I had never been there – and she too assured me that he wasn’t talking because he was mad that he had wrecked his car. I woke up thinking what a unsettling dream that was. Almost immediately I got a phone call that he had died early that morning in a car accident. When I was at his house for the funeral the front porch looked exactly as it did in my dream, down to the plants. It’s been 42 years and the dream still haunts me a bit. I think he was trying to say goodbye.

  16. Two days before my dad passed he sat up in bed with a huge smile on his face and started signing I love you to someone I could not see. I asked him who he saw and he said his mama. He continued to sign I love you then started repeating I love you out loud, verbally. His mother had passed in 1964 and was deaf at the time of her passing. I wanted so desperately to see my grandmother as I had been a month old when she died. Mostly I wanted to go with my dad and see what he was seeing. Eventually he laid back and within hours he was in a coma. He passed peacefully. It gives me so much comfort to know Granny was waiting for him. Three years later he came for my mother. I saw him standing at the foot of her bed for hours before she passed. When she passed the sweetest smell of roses surrounded me. I know it was her way of telling me goodbye. I look forward to day I see them waiting for me on the other side. What a wonderful day it will be when I rejoin my family and my Jesus.

    • That was beautiful, so glad you have those memories and the knowledge that they will be there for you also.

  17. Still wonder… my mom, who has had a stroke and has been in a nursing home a year and a half since, was very ill last week with pneumonia and a severe UTI. She is almost 91. I knew she was in very serious condition and was praying for the strong antibiotics to work but we were having such a hard time waking her up. On my day with her I had something I wanted to ask her so badly, something we had talked about before she had her stroke. You see, just over 9 yrs ago, I lost my 30 yr so daughter. She was visiting me, we ran some errands, comeback and I dozed off for about 1 1/2 hrs I woke up , went into my kitchen and she was sitting in front of the TV with her head dropped….she was still warm but gone. This was my mother’s first granddaughter after 3 grandsons and my mother was beyond in love with her and vice versa. So about 3 yrs ago we had the conversation that whomever of us crosses first will send the other a sign. I leaned into her ear last week and asked her if she remembered that promise and she nodded she did. I asked her if she had seen her granddaughter in the room and she said she heard her in the hall. I asked her about my dad who died 6 days after my daughter. He comes there she mumbled. He sleeps in the bed with her. She lost a very. close friend from the nursing home just a couple of weeks ago and she said he had been there. My mother doesn’t take any meds except something mild for depression and a very mild pain reliever….I call it baby aspirin. My mother seems to be getting a little better. I don’t know what she will remember but I believe wholeheartedly that when her time comes, these that mean so much will be just beyond the throne of Christ. But I have never assumed she would go before me, even last week. Our last breath came come at anytime. I’ve had a hard lesson on that ❤❤

  18. My father was diagnosed with cancer Jan 13,2010. He passed Apr. 22,2010. I spent a lot of time with him in the hospital and that at his home. Early on I would tell him to eat and sleep to get strong and fight. He said he hadn’t slept good since Late Aug 2009. I asked why? He said he was scared he wouldn’t wake up. I asked why? He was silent for a few minutes and finally said because of the dreams he would have. Dreams of what? I asked. He told me people would visit him in his dreams. Who? His long deceased mother, uncles, father, and recently deceased cousin. Before he passed he said it would be a bad year, he would not be going alone. His brother in law, sister in law, and my mothers uncle all died before 2010 came to a close. He wasn’t on drugs when he was dreaming. Is there an afterlife? Or is it your body knowing you will expire soon and starts preparing you? Oh well I guess I will know someday.

  19. The stories I have read was very interesting. My parents died 26 years ago in a car accident. A week before the accident, 10 October 1991, my mother dreamt of her mother and brother who died years before. We were visiting my parents. and m y mother told us about the dream she had and said she wondered why she dreamt of them. A week later 18 October 1991 they died. I believe that family members will come and fetch you when it is your time. I can not wait to see them again.

  20. Yes my grandmother lifted her arms up before she died reaching for someone. I was the only person in the room and she reached up toward a corner and when I grabbed her arms they dropped. She was reaching for someone to take her home I believe!!

  21. My Mom was lifting her arms up high just about a week before she passed. I kept asking the nurses at the hospital about this and they couldn’t give me an answer. I figured she was asking a higher power to take her. She had cancer and I think she couldn’t fight it any more.

    • My mom was dying with cancer about a week before she passed she was in the hospitial and she raised both arm up in the air with a beautiful smile on her face And said do you see all the beautiful angels,,,,so yes i believe your loved ones come back for you,,,because my moms brother was dying with cancer too and mom had allready passed two days prior and he asked how my mom was and in his condition failing we felt best to tell him so we lied to him,,,they were really close we were protesting him,,,but anyway we told him she was doing ok,,,he said no thats not true,,,,because i see her standing in the doorway waiting on me with mom,,,,so yes i believe our loved ones come to get us for our journey home,,,,

  22. I fully believe that we can see the deceased when my brother was dying with lung cancer and then his final stage he would point to the corner and my sister and I both could see my mother then when he was getting ready to cross over he had a favorite chair in the living room our mother was in there wondering and wondering and wondering around the chair she was waiting on her baby to come home

  23. My dad passed away 26 years ago and i still missing him so much… One day i mumbled in the air asking for him to come in my dream. Few days later my 3 years old son screaming in his bed, he said that there was someone standing near the door, but i couldn’t see anyone or anything. I asked him to describe, he said that the person is a man, big and tall, wearing grey suites (this is my dad outfit when he was buried), and smiling. I asked whether he asked him to go, he said no, the person is just came by.

  24. These are beautifully awesome experiences that I thank all these folks for sharing with us. At almost 71 yrs of age, I think about what dying is like. I was with my mom when she died in my arms. She had gone into a coma the day before. She was about my age and suffered for many years with kidney failure. She had been on dialysis for 18 yrs. prior to that. And as I held her head against my heart and told her to go with the angels she stopped breathing and I laid her head gently on the bed and thanked God for sending his angels to bring her to Him. I hope I go as peaceful and gentle as she did.

  25. My dad passed away in 2007 from cancer. About an hour before he passed I was sitting on his bed and he asked who was that standing behind me but I couldn’t see anyone. He kept saying right there and pointing. I was standing beside him when he passed and he was trying to speak to me. I wish I could have known what he was saying.

  26. I was not present when my father passed but I did get to see him about a month before passing. I was secretly grieving the fact that I never said good bye and going through a lot of guilt. A week after he passed he came to me in a dream one night. He let me hold him and cry in his arms. He let me tell him everything and show my love. The dream was very vivid and something I will never forget. I woke as soon as he left and realized this was not just a dream but his way of coming to me and easing my pain.

  27. My beloved grandmother passed away just 2 months before my youngest daughter was born and when Michelle was only a few weeks old she would reach out her little arms and smile so big while in her crib; I didn’t really think a lot of it at the time, but as she got older she would talk about her angel. One day when she was about 2 1/2 her older sister and I were having a conversation about buying something without checking it out first and Michelle looked up and said “like a pig in a poke”. That was one of my grandmothers favorite sayings but to my knowledge I had NEVER used that phrase before. I have always believed that my grandmother came as a guardian angel to her youngest – and last – grandchild.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s