Three out of four family members (who had a shared death experience) contributed to this report. Although present, one family member did not have a shared death experience.
Son: I arrived late Friday night, October 7th. Mom was already bedridden upon my arrival. She was somewhat communicative on Saturday and less so on Sunday, but by Monday most of her reactions were simply showing she was in pain (wincing and frowning), especially when she was rolled onto her side to change her diaper and clean her. On Tuesday morning at about 3:30 AM, I attempted to administer morphine to lessen her pain, as she was lightly moaning in her sleep; she was unable to voluntarily take the medication, like she was in a very deep sleep. A few hours later, around 7 or 8 AM, the "death rattle" began in her throat and continued throughout the rest of the day and into the early evening. She wasn't able to communicate at all on Tuesday (at least not that I saw) and even giving her water through a straw was harder than it had been and had to be done slowly.
Linda (Daughter): The last few weeks and days prior to death was a battle. Inching forward and losing ground, all my energy was sapped out to help Mom get towards her death. It was agonizing and exhausting, punctuated only by her small smile or sweet thank you. As she slipped further into her illness it seemed nothing warm and fuzzy lay ahead, just agony leading up to death. My expectations were not high – I felt her death would be utter misery right up to the bitter end.
Sanna (Granddaughter): My grandmother ("Nanny", 91 years old) was bedridden for days leading up to this encounter. A few days before she died, she told me she saw good spirits around her. The day she died, she was extremely weak and unable to communicate. We tried our best to take care of her at home, but we could all tell she was dealing with pain.
Son: The extended family was mostly gathered in her room by about 5 PM on Tuesday. We stayed together for about an hour, but eventually a few people moved out of the room to attend to other tasks, some outside and some on a different floor of the home. I left the room at about 6:10 or 6:15 PM to get some water and make a quick phone call. My sister left the room at about the same time. We had last been discussing what shifts we might take overnight, just to be sure mom wouldn't die alone.
Linda: Just before the event, the family was having a little interaction and banter in Mom’s room, and it seemed reasonably comfortable to take a small break with my brother. We left the room knowing Mom would be with the other family members.
Sanna: She was on her 10th day without eating solid foods. Many family members were in the room chatting and surrounding her as we sensed the end was near. A few family members left the room, but three stayed, my sister, my cousin and myself.
Sanna: As she was lying in bed, I noticed she seemed in distress, although she had lost her ability to communicate. Feeling compelled to help, I silently prayed for her and played some quiet music on my laptop. Suddenly, I heard my cousin tell us to look at her eyes. Nanny's eyes were completely open, wider and bluer than ever before and she appeared to be looking straight up at something. Her skin was turning white. I believe I said, "She is seeing God!" I felt compelled to get my mother and uncle who were in the kitchen to come and see what we were witnessing.
Son: At approximately 6:20 PM, my younger niece (Sanna) came quickly out of mom's bedroom about 75 feet down the hall and into the kitchen, telling Linda and me to come quickly as something very different was happening with mom; I don't recall exactly what she said. I was following Linda back into the bedroom, and I remember thinking it was a little bit odd that she was walking with a purpose but not particularly quickly. She dropped a piece of bedding she'd been holding in her hand as she retreated.
Linda: When my daughter (Sanna) came out of the room, there was a sense of urgency to her request for our return. I immediately felt an internal tug of war, and was asking myself what crisis was I going to have to deal with now, as I did not want to deal with anything more. On the other shoulder was a voice chastising me for my slow and reluctant attitude. This internal struggle made it hard for me to respond as I should have, and only after reflection did I understand why I felt I was in one of those dreams where you need to run, but just cannot.
Son: When we arrived in the bedroom, I went to the foot of the bed. Linda and I were there now with Linda's daughters and my daughter -- five people total, plus mom.
Linda: When I entered the room, I felt awestruck and shocked. There was definitely a sense of an immense presence. There was a strong, overwhelming, powerful sense that she was called and I am convinced it was something akin to an assumption.
Sanna: Her eyes remained fixed on something above her as though she was receiving a message.
Linda: Her eyes were so wide, unblinking, she could see something. Her eyes appeared lit from within. They were much more colorful than ever before. Her face was seemingly glowing. There was low light in the room as it was only a few minutes away from sundown, yet we could all see her colorful eyes very clearly.
Son: As mom had been essentially horizontal and unresponsive for the past 24 hours or more, it was quite startling to see her eyes wide open, as wide as they could be without prying them open with your fingers. She was staring upward at about a 60-degree angle toward the ceiling. Her head seemed to be lifted off the pillow and her eyes were what people frequently call "ice blue" in color -- I don't ever recall seeing her eyes that bright at any point. My feeling was that she was looking at something very mesmerizing, and her eyes and facial expression were full of awe for whatever it was she was seeing.
Linda: As I watched her, she was contributing her own movements towards the powerful force. I had the sense that she was trying to join this entity and that she was transfixed by it. Her movements seemed like a choreographed set of motions that a prone dancer would do to indicate the soul is leaving the body. This included her head tipping back and her chin, ribcage and chest were lifted up towards the ceiling. She was lifted ever so slightly off the bed. Her shoulders began to roll. It was almost as though she was discovering wings, unfurling them, and about to try them out.
Son: Her shoulders, which had been a source of great pain for the last few years of her life due to arthritis, were rolled back and her chest was thrust forward. The position of her body made it appear that something invisible (her soul?) was being pulled out of her torso by an external force. I saw her in this position for about 20-30 seconds, I think – she may have held the position for as long as two minutes total if you include the time it took Sanna to come down the hall, notify us, and for us to walk back into the room.
Sanna: Her upper body seemed to be lifted or elevated; however, I can only recall this because of the angle in which I saw her face. For some reason, I could not remove my gaze from her face.
Linda: In my mind, that body, in that bed, was very clearly elsewhere. The position gave every indication that this bed is not holding her weight any longer. I had a sense of sadness, but at the same time, I unexpectedly felt an overwhelming sense of thrill, which was surprising. I was exhilarated. Electricity was in the room. It was unimaginable. It is not something you can explain as there are no words for this feeling. It was like we were watching a solar eclipse through a filter and mom was watching the eclipse head on. We could watch her assumption, but we could not directly experience it because it was not for us. I had a sense that I should look away. I buried my head into my brother’s shoulder and looked out of the corner of my eye. I knew this energy was not for me and questioned why I was there. I felt unworthy.
Sanna: I got an overwhelming sense that we were in the presence of godliness and although I could not see everything she was looking at, I sensed it was either God, Jesus or an angel. It seemed to have a male persona, was very tall, gleaming a bright light. I saw this as a telepathic vision in my mind. I could clearly see the base of his long robe touching the ground. He seemed to know everything about Nanny, as though he could see her entire life in front of him. He would be best described as authority personified. I felt honored to be in his presence. As such, I knelt down in prayer out of respect for both my grandmother's fate and because I was in the presence of someone exceedingly powerful and otherworldly. I sensed that he was telepathically commanding her to follow him. I felt him (telepathically say) something akin to, “Come with me.” Even more shocking, the sense of exhilaration and joy we felt as she was dying and leaving to follow him was overwhelming and far more powerful than anything that can be experienced with a human brain. It was like we briefly tapped into a unifying consciousness – a sensation which is irreplicable. No words can possibly do justice to describe the energy we felt.
Linda: As the soul was being sucked out of the body, I noticed one gasp that made me think she’s gone. All consecutive gasps were purely mechanical, simply her body moving back down towards the bed (in a softer fashion) to a neutral state.
Sanna: She began some gentle movements opening and closing her mouth, which indicated that she was most definitely dying. I can only liken these mouth movements to those of a gentle frog croaking silently. Moments later, she was gone and her little limp body lay peacefully on the bed.
Son: Her eyes then closed and she sank back down onto the pillow with her mouth slightly open. From that moment on, it was a more normal idea of what I thought a death might look like. I believe she might have taken two additional small breaths, sporadically, in the next minute or two before we were certain she'd reached the end of her life. Sanna noted the time of 6:22 PM.
Linda: I cried and held onto my brother. I collapsed on her legs weeping. I felt tremendous exhaustion, but it was more than that. It was a release and it was shock. I could not respond appropriately to what I was feeling – there was a disconnect. I remember thinking I don’t have a way to express how I feel. I had an overwhelming sense that I was not worthy (of caring for my mother).
Sanna: I don’t remember much immediately following the encounter except for feeling a strange combination of wild excitement and shock at that moment. Everyone was talking about the incredible energy we had felt and how mind-blowing it all was. None of us had ever heard of a shared death experience before this experience, so it was extremely difficult to process what had just occurred.
Son: The five of us were sobbing and holding each other tightly, feeling tremendous grief as we witnessed the death of a dearly loved mother and grandmother, but at the same time there was a feeling of joy in the room and I sincerely felt we were witnessing some sort of victory at a moment of great loss; I remember gasps and excited comments from some of the people in the room but I can't recall who might have said what.
RESPONSES AND REFLECTIONS
Son: While there may be a physiological explanation for the expression on mom's face and the position of her shoulders and torso when I observed her, it is really difficult to believe I was not watching something "Godly" occurring as she passed. All of us agreed that something very special had happened to mom, and that we'd been permitted to see her reaction to whatever it was, without the understanding that comes with seeing, hearing, or touching it ourselves. (Linda later thought that the brightness in mom's eyes was a reflection of whatever she was seeing, and that thought fit very well with my impressions.) Overall, it was an exhilarating event that required some time to calm down from afterward, even at a time of great sadness -- just a bizarre mix of feelings.
Sanna: We did not know what we saw and felt during Nanny’s death was even in the realm of possibility. Our various reactions confirmed that we felt a magnificent energy during this encounter with a higher power. This energy was never directed towards us, but somehow we sensed the promise that awaits us after we die—and it was the most beautiful moment of my life.
Linda: Since that time, I don’t have so many questions. I previously considered that either God no longer exists or simply is no longer involved with us. I am now convinced that whatever created us is very invested in us. We aren’t here pointlessly. I still don’t know why we are here, but apparently there is a significant reason. The Being which was present desired her reunion, indicating you are coming back with me, you are to come along NOW, you are mine. I don’t have words to express what that power wanted from that little broken body that was my mother. There was a component of my mother that it (the powerful being) wanted. The part that it wanted was part of itself. It was different from human desire. There was an imperative of reunion beyond human comprehension.
Sanna: After this was over, I turned to my cousin and told her that Jeff Bezos spent billions to go to outer space, while we spent nothing and were privileged to see something far more exhilarating. I now know that there is a consciousness that exists beyond our life that far exceeds the ability of our human comprehension. When we “die”, we really transition back home to where we came from -- to a singular, unifying consciousness. I am a skeptic at heart, and had I experienced an NDE I probably would have actively tried to block its memory to protect my sanity. I would have desperately looked for a scientific explanation for what occurred. But since this was an SDE with multiple healthy family members, I feel we were given an even greater gift -- the gift of assurance. There is absolutely no proven scientific explanation for what happened to us, but I am certain that what happens to our human consciousness after death is not yet fully understood.