Background A study of End of Life Experiences (ELEs) was carried out in Rotterdam Holland. These experiences seem to comfort the dying and prepare them for death.
Method Thirty carers in three hospices who participated in the study were given a 5-year retrospective 42 item questionnaire. 1 year later the then prospective questionnaire was again give to any carers who remained at the hospices. The questionnaires were followed by a 1 h indepth recorded interview, a year apart.
Results The results show that ELEs are not uncommonly reported. Deathbed visions were reported by over 70% of carers, deathbed coincidences by 50%, moving to a new reality before death by 55% and radiant light surrounding the body at the time of death by 55%. Interestingly terminal lucidity or ‘lighting up before death’ was only reported by 20% of carers.
Discussion This paper will report the results of the Dutch study and compare them to those found in two hospices and a nursing home in England using the same questionnaire. In the interviews carers stressed the importance of ELEs in bringing comfort to the dying and particularly in being comforting to the relatives in their grieving. There are marked differences in the teaching of Dutch and English carers, 78% of Dutch carers had been trained in the nature of ELEs compared to only 6% in the English study. Both groups wanted more training in this area and asked for special courses and the production of pamphlets. Staff members in England found more difficulty in discussing ELEs between themselves than those in Holland.
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