Two nurses share their observations of death

Pam Barlow has worked in aged care for 25 years and says she loves to sit down with residents at supper and listen to their stories. She offers the following observation of death, which echoes a similar account (also below) from a hospice nurse.

Pam writes:

“Seeing a loved one who has passed, children dancing and laughing, three men wearing white, pets from the past – these are familiar occurrences at the end of life.

“I was 23 when my father passed and I remember him saying his mother and brother were present in the room with us. This was puzzling for me as his mother had been gone 15 years and his brother had long ago passed, being only 32 when he died. Dad died at 6am the next day.

“I later realised it was a common occurrence to see loved ones leading up to the time of death.

Read: Living life, not talking death

“Many years later, I was present at the time of my father-in-law’s passing. He kept repeating to us (my sister-in-law and myself) to, ‘Pull up some chairs and let the blokes sit down. They have been standing there all day.’ Not trying to sound puzzled or alarmed by his words, we asked, ‘Where are they standing?’

“‘Right there, next to the wall. Can’t you see them? They are dressed in all white and they said, ‘If you keep the table clean, you will win Tattslotto’.

“The men in white did puzzle me.

“Later that day, on a night shift, I was attending to an elderly gentleman who was at the end stages of his life. His words were strangely familiar to that of my dear father-in-law from earlier that day: ‘Give the three blokes a bed to sleep on, they have been standing there all day.” I asked (again), ‘What blokes?’

“‘The ones standing there all dressed in white.’

“I was starting to think the three blokes dressed in white had followed me from the hospital where my father-in-law was to the nursing home where my resident was seeing them.

“Both my father-in-law and the resident passed within a week. As for my sister-in-law and myself winning Tattslotto – well we must not have cleaned the table well enough!”

Read: When I am dying

Julie, a hospice nurse, has eerily similar observations. Writing on TikTok, she says many of her patients say the same three words before passing.

“There is something most people say before they die and it’s usually, ‘I love you,’ or they call out to their mum or dad who have usually already died,” she says.

She says that patients who are otherwise completely lucid will tell her they can see spirits or angels of loved ones who’ve passed away up to a month before dying themselves. These visions will often urge the patient to ‘come home’.

Pam Barlow lives in Wyndham Vale in Victoria with her husband, a 12-year-old cat and a three-year-old pug. They are the parents of four and grandparents of five.

Have you been with a loved one at the end of their life? What were your observations? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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