5 Things The Dying Want Us To Know

August 2, 2014 1:37 AM

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After losing my sister and father within nine weeks, I spent five years investigating what happens when we die. While interviewing dozens of people who work with terminally ill patients, or have had deathbed experiences or have come back from death, I learned that the dying often seem to know that they're going, and when. Within 72 hours of death, they begin to speak in metaphors of journey. They request their shoes, or their plane tickets or demand to go home when they are home. When my sister lay dying of breast cancer, she said, as if frustrated, "I don't know how to leave," and spoke of "hapless flight attendants."

"Does my wife understand about the passport and ticket?," asked a man succumbing to the ravages of pancreatic cancer of a Virginia-based hospice nurse named Maggie Callanan (Callanan, along with fellow nurse Patrica Kelley, would go on to coin the official phrase, "nearing death awareness," and co-a...

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