Deathbed Visions: How the Dead Talk to the Dying
by Sir William Barrett
White Crow Books republished this 1926 book of visions seen by those close to death.
The book opens with examples of dying people seeing dead people that they didn’t know had died. Then the heart of the book provides tale after tale of visions seen just before death. Time and again, a dying and often comatose person gains sudden clarity, then announces with delight that someone or other has come, soon dying with a smile of joy.
One dying man announced to his bedside wife, “And here’s Nance too.” A pause, then, “Mother, she is all right. She has been forgiven.” The man died soon after, “taking with him a sorrow that had long pressed upon the mother’s heart, for Nance had fallen into sin and had died soon after the child was born and, as the poor mother thought, never having had time to repent.”
One delightful case involved young Daisy Irene Dryden, born September 9th, 1854, and died October 8th, 1864, aged ten years and twenty-nine days.
Daisy recovered from bilious fever, seeming fine. But one afternoon her father could tell that Daisy saw something, which she described as Jesus saying she would be one of His little lambs. She lived only four days after that, but during those four days her faculties appeared sharpened.
The following is a long quotation from pages 50 to 53 of the book. (I want to avoid the italic of this theme’s block quotation.)
[Daisy] loved to have us read the Scriptures to her. I read, in John xiv, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you.” At this she looked up at me so heavenly as she said, “Mamma, when I go away the Comforter, will come to you; and maybe He will let me come too sometimes; I’ll ask Allie about it.” She often said this after this time, when she felt uncertain about anything. Allie was her brother who had passed to the other life at the age of six, of scarlet fever, seven months before. He seemed to be with her a great deal of the time during those last three days, because when we asked her questions which she could not answer she would say, “Wait till Allie comes, and I will ask him.” On this occasion she waited only a short time and then said, “Allie says I may go to you sometimes; he says it is possible, but you will not know when I am there; but I can speak to your thought.”
. . .
During this time [Daisy] dwelt in both worlds, as she expressed it. Two days before she left us, the Sunday School Superintendent came to see her.
She talked very freely about going, and sent a message by him to the Sunday School. When he was about to leave, he said, “Well, Daisy, you will soon be over the dark river.” After he had gone, she asked her father what he meant by the “dark river.” He tried to explain it, but she said, “It is all a mistake; there is no river; there is no curtain; there is not even a line that separates this life from the other life.” And she stretched out her litle hands from the bed, and with a gesture said, “It is here and it is there; it know it is so, for I can see you all, and I see them there at the same time.” We asked her to tell us something of that other world and how it looked to her, but she said, “I cannot describe it; it is so different, I could not make you understand.”
One morning while I [Daisy’s mother] was in the room, putting it in order, Mrs. W., one of our kind neighbors, was reading to her these words from the Testament: “Let not your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you” (John xiv, 1, 2). Daisy remarked, “Mansions, that means houses. I don’t see real houses there; but there is what would be places to meet each other in. Allie speaks of going to such and such a place, but says nothing of houses. You see, perhaps the Testament tells about mansions so we will feel we are going to have a home in heaven, and perhaps when I get there I’ll find a home. And if I do, the heavenly flowers and trees that I love so much here, for I do see them, and that they are more beautiful than anything you could imagine, they will be there.” I said, “Daisy, don’t you know the Bible speaks of heaven being a beautiful city?” She said, “I do not see a city,” and a puzzled look came over her face, and she said, “I do not know; I may have to go there first.”
Mrs. W., a kind neighbor, the one who read of the mansions to Daisy, and who was with us a great deal, told Mrs. B., a neighbor of hers, about Daisy’s inner sight being open. Mrs. B. was a lady who did not believe in a future state. She was, moreover, in deep distress, having just lost her husband and a son who was about twelve years old, named Bateman. She came with Mrs. W. one evening, and, sitting beside the bed, began to ask questions. Daisy said to her, “Bateman is here, and he says he is alive and well, and is in such a good place, he would not come home for anything. He says he is learning how to be good.” Mrs. B. then said, “Ask him if he has seen his father.” Daisy replied, “He says he has not, he is not here, and says to you, ‘Mother, don’t fret about me, it is better I did not grow up.'” This communication set the mother thinking and she became a firm believer in a future state.
The following morning, when alone with Daisy, Mrs. W., who had brought Mrs. B. to see her, asked Daisy how she could think Mrs. B.’s son was happy. “For,” said she, “when he was here, you know he was such a bad boy. Don’t you remember how he used to swear, and steal your playthings, and break them up? You know we did not allow him to play with you nor with my children, because he was so bad.” Daisy replied, “Oh, Aunty, don’t you know he never went to Sunday School, and was always hearing so much swearing? God knows he did not have half a chance.”
The same day her Sunday School teacher Mrs. H., who also was with her a great deal, was sitting beside her, when Daisy said to her, “Your two children are here.” Now, these children had gone to the other life several years before, and if they had lived in this world would have been nearly grown up. Daisy had never heard anyone speak of them, nor did the mother have any pictures of them, so she could not have known anything whatever about them before seeing them in the spiritual world. When asked to describe them, her description of them as full grown did not agree with the mother’s idea of them, so she said, “How can that be? They were children when they died.” Daisy answered, “Allie say, ‘Children do not stay children; they grow up as they do in this life.'” Mrs. H. then said, “But my little daughter Mary fell, and was so injured that she could not stand straight.” To this Daisy replied, “She is all right now; she is straight and beautiful; and your son is looking so noble and happy.”
Once she said, “Oh, papa, do you hear that? It is the singing of the angels. Why, you ought to hear it, for the room is full of it, and I can see them, there are so many; I can see them miles and miles away.” Mrs. W., already mentioned, who had lost her father a short time previous, wanted to know if Daisy had seen him, and brought his picture to let her see if she could recognize him. But in the evening, when she came again, Daisy told her she had not seen him, but that Allie, who she had asked about him, had not seen him, but that Allie had said he would ask someone who could tell him about him. In a moment Daisy said, “Allie is here and says, ‘Tell Aunty her father wants her to meet him in heaven, for he is there.'” Mrs. W. then said, “Daisy, why did not Allie know at once about my father?” “Because,” replied she, “those who die go into different states or places and do not see each other at all times, but all the good are in the state of the blessed.”
. . .
I then asked her further, “Daisy, how does Allie appear to you? Does he seem to wear clothes?” She answered, “Oh, no, not clothes such as we wear. There seems to be about him a white, beautiful something, so fine and thin and glistening, and oh, so white, and yet there is not a fold, or a sign of a thread in it so it cannot be cloth. But makes him look so lovely.” Her father then quoted from the Psalmist: “He is clothed with light as a garment.” “Oh, yes, that’s it,” she replied.
She often spoke of dying, and seemed to have such a vivid sense of her future life and happiness that the dread of death was all dispelled. The mystery of the soul’s departure was to her no more a mystery. It was only a continuation of life, a growing up from the conditions of earth life into the air and sunshine of heaven.
I love the use of the phrase “the other life.”
This book then continues into a chapter on deathbed visions that were seen by more than the dying person, followed by a chapter on living people “visited” by dying people just before the death. He continues into a collection of instances where music was heard by the dying and those around them, followed by visions of the spirit leaving the body. In these last tales, those seeing the spirit leave the body often saw the deathbed visitors who came to accompany the spirit.
Throughout this book are smiles of joy as the dying see their End Friends and are helped home.