Oh Wow!

Oh Wow!

five birds flying on the sea
Photo: Frank McKenna

Near-death experiencers often say they met deceased loved ones or saw stunning landscapes while they were flat-lining. If they really do take a peek across the veil, shouldn’t one expect that those dying permanently (if there really is such a thing as ‘dying permanently’) have the same or similar experiences?

One should. And yes, they DO!

There’s one major difference. While NDErs cannot reveal what they saw until they return to life, those who are going through the process of dying often describe what they see as they’re seeing them!

Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley each spent more than a decade specializing in the care of the dying, and their excellent book on the subject, Final Gifts, was published in 1992. While countless books have been written about – and numerous research conducted on – near-death experiences, Final Gifts is one of the few devoted solely to deathbed visions, or as they termed it, Nearing Death Awareness.

“A near death experience happens suddenly,” they wrote“[while] … Nearing Death Awareness develops in people dying slowly… Rather than being in this world one moment, gone from it the next, then jerked back to life, the dying person remains inside the body but at the same time becomes aware of a dimension that lies beyond … [and] apparently drifts between the two.”

During my lengthy research into near death experiences, I came across a few examples of the dying being able to move between two worlds simultaneously. In The Waiting World, (by Archie Matson, 1975) Arline Herrick revealed that her mother said she felt like she was being cradled in love from this world and the next.

“Oh Arline,” she told her daughter, “It’s so strange here, I’m in a ‘never-never’ land. I’m halfway between two worlds.”

Arline reported that her mother lapsed into a coma for three days, but regained consciousness a few hours before she passed and spent those hours talking with her deceased sister, Margaret. Then she turned to Arline and said: “Ma and Pa are here and I can see them, but I can’t see you any more.” She died later that day.

shoreline during golden hour
Photo: Frank McKenna

Another woman explained that her husband seemed to be in two worlds at the same time. “He was not only aware of me and talking to me,” she stated, “but he greeted by name some thirty or forty friends and relatives who were waiting for him. The last one was John Moreland, the poet, who had been the best man at our wedding and who had died, unbeknown to him, just two weeks before.”

In the late 1950’s, Dr. Karlis Osis carried out extensive research into the visions of the dying. His study involved 10,000 general practitioners, hospital staff physicians, interns and nurses, and the results were published in his 1961 book, Deathbed Observations of Physicians and Nurses. He discovered that around eight out of every ten dying patients (78.6%) experienced visions during their final days or hours.

The majority of these patients saw deceased loved ones who were waiting to assist them across the divide. In other words, the dying saw dead people!

Of those who were able to communicate the identity of their visitors, almost seven out of every ten (67%) reported that the visitor was a deceased spouse or a relative – mother, father, child, sibling or other family member. Interestingly — and perhaps not surprisingly — mothers were the most dedicated greeters, outnumbering fathers by five to one. Spouses came in a close second. Two in ten saw religious figures, while the rest welcomed deceased friends, other relatives, or occasionally, strangers.

Shortly before my own grandmother died, she was visited by her long-deceased family doctor who announced that she was dead from her feet to her hips and from her head to her chest. She related this to me in a very matter-of-fact way while sitting in a chair watching a cricket match! She added that he promised to return and collect her when ‘they’ met in the middle.

Presumably, ‘they’ met in the middle a few weeks later when she died peacefully in her sleep. Perhaps some of us still need to make doctor’s appointments in heaven!

Others – both NDEr’s and those who were dying – spoke of seeing heavenly landscapes or ethereal structures!

“The individual may find himself in a meadow or see unusual physical-like structures,” Ring explained following his 1970’s study of near-death experiences. One woman he interviewed tried to describe a building with no walls.

Imagine that, if you can!

gray concrete platform
Photo: Svetlana Gumerova

During his NDE as a result of a heart attack in 1944, world-renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung encountered a temple and observed a Hindu man in a white gown sitting on a stone bench outside the building’s entrance.

Osis reported that a six-year-old boy who was dying of polio spoke of seeing flowers and hearing birds singing. How intriguing that in Dr. Ring’s NDE study, 5 experiencers also reported beautiful flowers, and 4 others recalled lovely music.

Twenty-eight NDE survivors saw a landscape of scenic beauty, but few could find words to describe it. If the following quotes are any indication, the dying have the same difficulty.

As a poet, one might expect Elizabeth Barrett Browning to have an extensive vocabulary, but as she lay on her deathbed in 1861, words apparently failed her. All she could say was: “It is beautiful!”

Carrie Carmen’s dying moments were recorded in an article by her pastor: “…she gazed upward and also exclaimed: Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!”

The wife of the great scientist, Thomas Edison, revealed that her husband whispered from his deathbed, “It is very beautiful over there.”

Moments before the Governor of Massachusetts, John Brooks, passed in 1825, he gradually extended his arm. When asked, “What are you reaching for?” he whispered, “A kingdom!”

Perhaps the final words belong to Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Shortly before he slipped away, Jobs opened his eyes, stared straight ahead, and – according to his sister who was at his deathbed – excitedly uttered:

“Oh wow. Oh Wow! OH WOW!!”


Have you ever been with a dying loved who revealed – either with words or through gestures and facial expressions – that they were seeing or experiencing something? I’d love to hear about it, as my next book will be about deathbed visions and other deathbed-related phenomena. You can email me at heavenknowsbooks@gmail.com

Cheers, SandyC

Read more at heavenknowsdotcomdotau.wordpress.com


Sandy Coghlan worked in advertising in Australia and London prior to becoming an on-air television director in 1979. Her first book, “Travel Guide to Tasmania” was commissioned by an Australian government department and published by Penguin in 1985.

Sandy’s articles on health and metaphysical subjects have been published nationally and she has been teaching creative writing and healing techniques since 1990.

After 25 years as a full-time sole carer, Sandy spent 4 years gathering information for a book that was keeping her awake at night; Heaven Knows: A Personal Journey in Search of Evidence (for the afterlife) was published in 2016. Blown away by the responses from readers, particularly by those who were grieving the loss of a loved one, she is determined to write more on the subject and is currently working on more books in the Heaven Knows series.