The first book to validate the meaningful dreams and visions that bring comfort as death nears.
Christopher Kerr is a hospice doctor. All of his patients die. Yet he has cared for thousands of patients who, in the face of death, speak of love and grace. Beyond the physical realities of dying are unseen processes that are remarkably life-affirming. These include dreams that are unlike any regular dream. Described as "more real than real," these end-of-life experiences resurrect past relationships, meaningful events and themes of love and forgiveness; they restore life's meaning and mark the transition from distress to comfort and acceptance.
Drawing on interviews with over 1,400 patients and more than a decade of quantified data, Dr. Kerr reveals that pre-death dreams and visions are extraordinary occurrences that humanize the dying process. He shares how his patients' stories point to death as not solely about the end of life, but as the final chapter of humanity's transcendence. Kerr's book also illuminates the benefits of these phenomena for the bereaved, who find solace in seeing their loved ones pass with a sense of calm closure.
Beautifully written, with astonishing real-life characters and stories, this book is at its heart a celebration of our power to reclaim the dying process as a deeply meaningful one. Death Is But a Dream is an important contribution to our understanding of medicine's and humanity's greatest mystery.
Kerr, neurobiologist and chief medical officer at Hospice Buffalo, draws on his case studies on end-of-life dreams and visions in this penetrating and empathetic debut. After a veteran hospice nurse predicted a patient's death and humbled then cardiology fellow Kerr, he changed his career trajectory and approach to caring for dying patients. Kerr begins with his epiphany and backstory about how witnessing his father's death and a priest's callous dismissal of his father's pre-death vision pushed him toward medicine, then explains his hospice patients' pre-death dreams, visions, and life stories. Among Kerr's patients are no-nonsense Bobbie, who tests her doctors with sly and cunning humor; 95-year-old Frank, who enjoys speaking with his verbose late uncle while asleep, but often wants him to "shut up"; the imperfect, traumatized former police detective whose frightening dreams worked out his guilt and sins before he peacefully joined his late wife; and Jessica, a child dying of cancer whose mother's deceased best friend, along with Jessica's late black lab mix, visited and consoled her in her dreams. This comforting guide will reassure the dying and their loved ones while providing instructive portraits of end-of-life patients for those who work in medical and healing professions.