By Rick Hinton
Sleep is something we all need. Sleep is a break from our daily turmoil, and a fresh transition to a new day of awakening. Sometimes it goes smoothly, without a hitch. Sometimes it becomes something else. We all have our moments when sleep gets a little quirky. However, for those facing their last days upon this earth, sleep becomes a form of sanctity. Hospice services have confirmed this over countless experiences as they’ve assisted those making their last journey to the other side. If you have helped to make this transition with a loved one, then you know of what I speak.
Death will come to us all. There’s no avoiding it. It will happen at some point. Regardless of this realization — and cognitive of our mortality — we still continue to sweep this uncomfortable destination under the rug, continuing on with what we’re doing until health, or other circumstances, dictate otherwise. Suddenly, our time in the sun is over, and drawing to a close replaces expectations that we’ll continue about in a world we have known thus far. And, fully expect will continue. Only it doesn’t. …
Our health fails and the body begins to shut down. It could be a short process or stretch over several months. The soul retreats into a refuge: a dream world of familiarity, with those we were closest to in life. Death is the ultimate mystery. Hospice workers have revealed stories of the process of dying. Dr. Christopher Kerr of the Center of Hospice and Palliative Care and his team have been documenting the dreams and visions of dying patients for many years. They’ve found common threads: that dreams are often comforting and tend to make death less scary, and, when we have little time left, many of us may see the people, and events, we miss the most. “You’re physically declining, but inside, you’re very vibrant and alive,” Dr. Kerr stated.
My friend Ralph Sarchie witnessed this for himself during the passing of his mother. “My mother was telling us about seeing my father and relatives before she passed away,” he said. “She would also complain about seeing people she didn’t know standing by her bed. Some of it frightened her, and I told her to call out for Jesus. He would protect her!”
I went through this with my mother’s passing in 2015. That last week, hospice just knew she was on a decline. There was sleep … a lot of sleep, and dreams where she would speak in a (her) younger voice over the monitor in my sister-in-law’s bedroom in the wee morning hours. There were times where she would come back completely lucid, and others when she was confused and frightened. She kept mentioning a strange man sitting in the corner of the room. It seemed to scare her. The last day she twitched in her bed, and with the death rattle that hospice is so familiar with. Then she took her last breath with me holding her hand that evening. My mother had moved on into the comforting arms of the Holy Father. It was over.
Skeptics often attribute these dying experiences — dreams and all — to a chemical change in the brain as the body shuts down. I think otherwise: that there is another realm that we will transition to when it is our time, where we will be reunited with the people that meant the most to us during our sojourn on this earth, and … that they guide us at the time we need them most — our death. The Bible tells me this. I believe!