Three main Types of Death-Related STEs
1. Deathbed Experiences
Deathbed Experiences happen to people shortly before they die. They are strong STEs that may occur several hours or even several days before a person passes away due to a terminal illness, old age, or even an unexpected accident.
Deathbed Experiences a.k.a. “Deathbed Visions”, “Nearing-Death Awareness”, or “end-of-life experiences”.
Deathbed Experiences may be similar to NDEs. They may include NDE features including: a sense of peace and calm; a loss of fear of death; a mystical vision of beings of light – the luminous spirits of deceased loved ones who come to reassure them or accompany them; seeing a long, dark tunnel with a loving white light at the far end; and/or a mystical vision of a prophet or important figure from the dying person’s religion, such as Christ or Moses.
The veil between heaven and earth becomes thin. Sometimes Deathbed Experiences are described as the veil separating the heavenly realm of the afterlife and our earthly reality becoming extremely thin, and the experiencer becomes able to see glimpses of the other side, often to see and talk with departed loved-ones.
Deathbed Experiences are understood as a sign they will be dying soon. Experiencers usually know the experience signals that they will be dying soon. They are often considerably changed by the Deathbed Experience; they often shift to accept their impending death much more calmly than before, and become more deeply at peace, more serene. Frequently, they may use their remaining time to tell their family members that they love them, to reassure them that they are ready to die, and to urge them not to grieve deeply. They will often reassure their friends and family that they are not afraid to die. Sometimes they even say that they welcome death.
2. Death-Watch Experiences
A Death-Watch Experience (DWE) happens at the moment that someone else dies. On some occasions a DWE may happen a few moments before or after the other person’s death.
DWEs a.k.a. “shared-death experiences”, “shared crossings” “deathbed coincidences” or “care-givers experiences”.
DWEs happen to persons close to someone who dies. DWE frequently happen when a person is physically close to a dying person at their moment of death. DWEs can also happen to individuals who are emotionally close to a dying person, even when they are at a distant location from the dying loved one. In some cases however, DWEs can occur at the time of death of complete strangers, who are either nearby or at a distance.
DWE Experiencers intuitively know that the person has died, even if they are at a distant location, and they had no awareness that their loved one was in ill health.
Types of Death-Watch Experiences
- NDE-like “Shared-Death Experiences”. The Experiencer sees themselves accompanying their dying loved one going out of body, then floating upward through a dark tunnel towards the loving light. However, the DWE Experiencer finds that they are stopped part way to the light, while their loved one continues moving upwards into the light. The DWE then abruptly ends with Experiencer realizing their loved one has passed away, and they seemingly shared in the crossing over experience.
- Body Symptom DWE. Some Experiencers report feeling the physical symptoms that their loved one felt at their moment of death, in their own body. For example an Experiencer may feel crushing chest pain and shortness of breath at the moment that their loved one died of a massive heart attack with these physical symptoms, or an Experiencer may feel the spiritual bliss and love the dying person is feeling in their Deathbed Experience, just before their death.
- Death-Watch Visions. Many persons report diverse types of visions at the moment of their loved one’s death. Some report seeing an orb of light leave the dying body, or see a whisp-like spirit leave the body. Others report seeing a being of light appear at the bedside of their dying loved one, which then accompanies the spirit of their dying loved one away from the body. Some other report visions of their loved one’s spirit being greeted into the white light by a beloved deceased relative. Others have reported seeing a vision of their departing loved one’s face appear to them in a mirror, or in a dream, exactly at the moment of their death.
- Auditory DWE. Some Experiencers report hearing the voice, and having a one-way or two-way mental communication with the Spirit of the person who has just died.
- Brushed by an Angel mystical DWE. Some Experiencers report a powerful mystical experience starting at the exact moment that their loved one dies. This has been described as feeling like “being brushed by an angel wing”, which propels the Experiencer into a mystical experience.
- Ushering DWE: Pulled to usher souls to the light. Some Experiencers report at the moment of another’s death, suddenly finding themselves out-of-body beside the soul of the deceased person, who seems lost or confused. The Experiencer intuitively knows somehow that they are being called to “usher”, to help the confused soul find its way up into the light.
3. After-Death Communications
After Death Communications (ADC) happens after a loved one dies. ADCs occur days, weeks, or months after a loved ones’ death. Many ADCs occur within a few days after a loved one has died.
The deceased loved-one’s spirit communicates with a living person, usually a friend or family member. ADCs may include a brief vision of what seems to be the deceased loved one’s spirit, a strong sense of their presence, movement of significant object, the scent of the departed loved one, or a mental communication of a message which seems important to the deceased person to communicate to the living.
ADCs are quite common. Bill Guggenheim and Judy Guggenheim, authors of Hello from Heaven: have documented over 3,000 cases of ADCs, and estimate that 20-40% of the population of the USA have had one or more ADC.
Suggested Further Reading on other Death-Related STEs
Kason, Yvonne. Touched by the Light: Exploring Spiritually Transformative Experiences. Toronto; Dundurn Press, 2019.