Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center
In a short paper published in the newsletter of the Forever Family Foundation Nancy L. Zingrone and I briefly discussed “Bystander’s Perceptions of Deathbed Phenomena” (Signs of Life, 2013, 10(4), 5, 8; click here and go to page 5). These cases include visual, auditory and other perceptions taking place around someone who is dying.
We start our discussion with cases in which mists and lights are seen to come out of the body of a dying person. We wrote: “Sometimes what is perceived is something that looks like a replica of the body of the dying person. Here is an example: ‘I approached the ward as the child drew its final breath. Then I saw mist above the little body. It took the shape of the body which lay on the bed. This was attached by a very fine silver cord. The replica was about three feet from the body on the bed. It rose gradually to above five feet above the body, then gradually lifted itself into an upright position. It then floated away.’ ” This case was taken from Robert Crookall’s Events on the Threshold of the After Life (Moradabad, India: Darshana International, 1967, p. 40), a book that includes many of these cases.
Myers and Podmore’s classic book Phantasms of the Living (London: Trubner, 1886, 2 vols.). We wrote: “One case involved the death of a child, which took place on a Tuesday. While the child did not hear anything, her family was able to hear music, which started before the death on the previous Saturday, and went on on Sunday and on the day of the death. The family heard ‘wild notes of an Æolian harp, which rose and fell distinctively, and increased gradually, until the room was full of sound . . .’ ” A witness added, “my old nurse and aunt came up to see how Lilly was, and were, with my husband, all in the room with the child. I had gone down into the kitchen . . . when the same sounds of Æolian music were heard by all three in the room, and I heard the same in the kitchen.”
Cases like this are discussed today under the name of shared death experiences. We end the short article calling for more systematic attention to the study of these cases and their features, as well as their relationship to other variables.