posted on Jul, 24 2011 @ 01:07 AM
I am so glad you posted this!
I have been a CNA for the last 12 years, and during the majority of that time, have worked in hospice. Due to all the things I have personally
witnessed when someone is close to passing, I have come to the conclusion that we do not die alone and that in fact, someone comes to help us feel
more comfortable with the transition and escorts us to wherever we go after we leave here.
While I have had MANY patients tell me about loved ones coming to visit them in the days before their passing, I have had a couple of experiences that
have made me almost certain that it cannot be chalked up to something that is just happening in the brain, etc.
I'll share the three that have stuck with me the most.
1- I had been taking care of a man for a few months. During that time, we established a routine and developed a friendship, as many caregivers do with
the clients. Never at any time that I was caring for him, did I notice any sort of confusion or mental deficiency. One night as we went through his
bedtime routine, we chatted and bs'd just the same as we had on all previous visits. I noticed nothing out of the ordinary at all. After I had helped
him on to the bed and was putting the oxygen cannula in his nose, he said "Hey, I wanna ask you something." "Okay, shoot." I replied. He
continued, "Who are those girls that have been here all day? They have been laughing and carrying on... I don't know who they are, but they are very
sweet. Maybe my daughter knows them?"
I was caught off guard by this because he was so lucid. At no time in my caring for him prior to this moment, did I even suspect any sort of dementia
or confusion. But, that is what I figured it was and decided that I would give the nurse a call in the morning to report that I had noticed this
change in him. I told him I wasn't sure who the girls were because I didn't see them and that maybe they had gone just before I got there or
something. As I turned out the light, I said good night and that I would see him tomorrow around the same time.
When I called the nurse the following morning to report that he seemed confused the night before, she said "Oh, didn't they call you yet?" I said
"No, why?" "Oh," she said "he passed away last night. His daughter found him this morning. It appears that he had a heart attack or something in
2-Last summer, I was assigned a to help a woman who had recently been switched from homecare to hospice due to a decline in her health. I arrived
early in the morning and greeted her as I normally did. We chatted as I was gathering all the things I would need to preform her cares, while she
still lay in bed. Again, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary in her mental state for the first 10 or so minutes that I was talking to her. As I went
over to her dresser and started getting her clothes, she said "That's a really cute boy you have with you." This stopped me in my tracks. "I have
a boy with me?" I said. "Yes, he is helping you with the clothes.He is your son." I became so excited and started asking her a bunch of questions
about him, such as how old he was and what he looked like, etc. She told me that every time she looked right at him, he would move away, so she
couldn't describe him. Not wanting to frustrate her, I decided to stop with the prodding questions and finish the visit.
Having learned my lessons from previous patients, I called the nurse as I left her apartment. I reported that I thought that maybe she was getting
closer because she was starting the 'hallucination' phase. The nurse replied that the facility had called her that morning as well because she had
been up all night, talking to her dead husband.
On my way home from work that evening, I called my mother in law to tell her that we didn't need to wait for the ultrasound next month, because the
baby inside me was a boy.
I never told that patient that I was pregnant. I wore scrubs that were huge because when I got them, I wanted them to last through the entire
pregnancy and so my belly wasn't visible. I'm a small woman and didn't have people actually noticing and commenting on my being pregnant until I
was around 6 months along. We never spoke of my having any other children or anything like that, as my son who was born earlier this year is my first
and only child.
That patient passed 2 days later.
3- This one has never set well with me and I'm still unsure what to make of it. I had been caring for a woman for about 3 months. She almost never
talked to me except short answers to direct questions. She always just laid there with her eyes closed, sometimes smiling when I said something, but
never really carrying on a conversation with me.
I was asked to go and see her a little later than my normal time one day because her daughter had something she needed to do and it would cut down on
the time that the patient would spend alone if I went at a later time.
When I arrived, the daughter had already left and so it was just the patient and I in the home. I greeted her, got no response, and proceeded with her
bed bath. About halfway through her bath, OUT OF NOWHERE, she turned her face to me and started yelling "Make him leave!!!!! Oh God, make him leave!!
I cant stand him! He scares me!" "Whoa," I thought to myself. "WTF is going on here?" I tried to retain a calm exterior, (though I'm not so sure
it worked), and asked "Who? Who scares you? Who is here?'' "Oh W!! Oh W! Make him leave!" she screamed as her eyes seemed to catch something on
the wall behind me. I turned around just in time to see a black shadow move from the wall to the doorway and disappear.
Let me just say, that it took everything I had in me to not run out of that house screaming. I just couldn't leave this poor, helpless woman who was
clearly terrified of something or somebody, alone to fend for herself. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I told it to get out of there and
that it wasn't welcome. Then I prayed for us to be protected from whatever that was. When I finished my prayer, I looked up at my patient. She had
her eyes closed, head forward, same as she usually was. I tapped her on the shoulder and said "Jean, is he gone? Do you feel better?' One more time,
she opened, looked at me and simply replied "Yes, thank you." She went back to eyes closed, head forward. I sang whatever hymns I knew while I
finished her bed bath.
Her daughter was there the next time and final time I went to that house. I told her about what had happened the previous day and she told me her
father, Walter, who had been dead for 7 years, was the only person that she could think of with a name that had a W in it. We struggled to figure out
why if it was him, he scared her so badly. I guess we will never know as she passed away the following weekend.
I know a lot of healthcare workers have these types of experiences and in hospice, it's so common for patients to see loved ones who have passed on
shortly before they do, that we consider that a sign of impending death.
I'm not an expert in the possible scientific causes of this, nor have I heard of many other explanations. I think many of us in healthcare, and
hospice especially, believe the veil thins before death.