Foundation for Near-Death Studies

Nearing-Death Awareness

Nearing-death awareness (NDA) involves a dying person who describes a dimension that seems to be beyond the world as we know it, often in symbolic terms. The dying person may appear to be talking to dead relatives or friends, speak of getting ready to travel or prepare for a big occasion, and describe an unearthly realm. Unfortunately, if the caregiver is not listening carefully, these discussions are interpreted as hallucinations or delirium by the dying person. NDAs are associated with a sense of peace and joy for the dying person and many consider it a gift to those left behind.

NDA was a common phenomenon decades ago, when many people died in their homes. In 1992, two hospice nurses, Callanan and Kelley, published a book, "Final Gifts", as a resource for hospice workers. They describe the process of preparing for death, from both the patients and caregivers point of view. Their work is insightful, compassionate and has greatly aided families and terminally ill patients with difficult discussions.