Dreams of the dying

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A lot of dying people say they actually begin dreaming about loved ones who already have died. Now, a research team is examining these dreams and visions scientifically in a first-of-its-kind study.

Geraldine Musser, hospice patient says, "Another time she's coming outside in her flowered dress with her apron on." 

Musser is talking about the dream she had about her mother, who died many years ago. 

Musser says, "It means she's out there. When I die I'll see her again."

Hospice Buffalo is working on a groundbreaking research study on dreams and visions of the dying. 

Dr. Christopher Kerr, Hospice Buffalo says, "I was taking care of patients all of a sudden who were all dying and I was witnessing something that I neither been trained to understand or knew how to interpret." 

So Dr. Kerr began a study in 2011 with 66 patients. They now have 1,300 reported incidents in several follow-up studies.

Dr. Kerr says, "I thought it was very important to legitimize these patients, to quantify it, to put it in a context that doctors would understand." 

Researchers ask patients very specific questions about their dreams and record the answers.

Rachel Depner, clinical researcher says, "What was this like for you, does this remind you of anything, does this affect your sense of meaning or purpose in life, your attitudes about death and dying?" 

The first study results were published in the journal of palliative medicine. It turns out these dreams and visions are comforting and profoundly meaningful to those dying.  

Dr. Kerr says, "This idea of love and forgiveness seem to be an overarching theme that make people whole again as they're approaching death." 

Musser says, "It makes you feel better knowing they're there."

Further research is ongoing at Hospice Buffalo involving hundreds of patients and researchers are currently analyzing more than 550 dreams. 
 


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