Death-related sensory experiences

J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 2005 Mar-Apr;22(2):104-11. doi: 10.1177/1043454204273735.


A death-related sensory experience (DRSE) is a spiritually transforming experience occurring with the appearance of a messenger beyond the visible observable universe to guide a dying person through the dying process. DRSEs have been reported to occur among those who are dying, most commonly individuals with terminal illness. Known dead family members are most commonly seen, followed by religious beings. Communication takes place between the dying individual and the apparition. Feelings of peace and comfort are reported by the majority of individuals experiencing DRSEs. DRSEs can occur over a period of hours to months before death. They have been referred to as veridical hallucinations, visions of the dying, deathbed visions, and predeath visions. Reported throughout time, among people of all cultures, religions, races, ages, genders, socioeconomic status, and educational levels, DRSEs are intense spiritual experiences. Validating a child's DRSE provides a way to start a dialogue regarding death. Research is needed to more fully understand DRSEs from the perspective of the dying child.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / psychology
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Nursing Research
  • Sensation / physiology*