Can Science Explain Near Death Experiences? | Discover Magazine

Dying, From The Patient’s PerspectiveAs hospice physician Christopher Kerr puts it, dying is a paradox. “You’re physically declining, but spiritually, you’re very much alive,” says Kerr, CEO of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. “We view dying as this medical phenomenon, when it’s ultimately this human experience that is very rich.” By speaking with hospice patients, Kerr and his colleagues have explored the nature of over 1,500 inner, subjective events — called end-of-life experiences, or ELEs — that many people go through as they approach death. A key difference from an NDE is that an ELE occurs days, weeks and even months before signs of life fade.The researchers found that nearly 90 percent of patients reported having at least one ELE, which can include extraordinarily vivid dreams or visions. These dreams often featured both living and deceased loved ones. “The closer you get to death, the more likely you are to see people who are deceased who you loved,” says Kerr. The frequency of ELEs also increased as people came closer to death. Overall, more than 60 percent of patients found their dreams comforting, while around 19 percent reported that they felt distress.Kerr notes that, unlike with NDEs, the patients are often healthy and lucid for these events. “Some of these people are driving, doing their taxes and living alone,” he says. “You can’t attribute it to neurotransmitter flux or anything like that.”In the end, ELEs tend to be life-affirming, according to Kerr. “[The experience] lessens the fear of death,” he says. Even the negative aspects of someone’s life can take on profound meaning. Such was the case for one aging veteran battling PTSD and survivors’ guilt. “In his end-of-life dreams, he was comforted by seeing soldiers,” says Kerr. “Then he could sleep. He found peace.” — A.O.

Can Science Explain Near Death Experiences? | Discover Magazine

About Sue Diane Rosenbloom, CT, MA

Thanatologist: Loss, Trauma, Crisis, Death, and Grief Educator - My blog is for educational purposes only. I am not a licensed professional counselor - Bachelor of Arts in Human Studies - Marylhurst University (2007) Certificate in Thanatology - Hood College (2008) Master of Arts in Thanatology - Hood College (2009) Certificate in Thanatology - The-Association for Death Education and Counseling (the highest level of loss and grief education). * Hospice, Alzheimer's and Senior's Advocate * Former first responder for Trauma Intervention Program, Inc. (TIP) * Former Hospice and Bereavement Volunteer for Providence Hospice Bereavement Program * Association for Death Education and Counseling Member * National Alliance for Bereavement of Children * Hood College Thanatology Association * American Group Psychotherapy Association * Hospice, Loss, Grief and Bereavement Researcher
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