Hospice Nurse Shares What Almost All of Her Patients See Right Before They Die

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 21, 2024

What happens right before we die? Do we remember our entire lives in the blink of an eye, as some movies will have us think? Do we experience a calming effect, knowing our lives will soon end? 

A hospice nurse has taken to social media to share what almost all of her patients have seen right before they die. Interestingly, many social media users have commented on her post to explain that they’ve heard of this phenomenon happening, too.

TikTok User on Death

Julie McFadden — also known as @hospicenursejulie on TikTok — posted a video in October of 2022, explaining a common trend she sees happening in her line of work.

A person holding another’s hand in comfort.

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Specifically, McFadden explained that many of her patients seem to go through one specific situation right before they ultimately pass


According to McFadden, many hospice patients experience a phenomenon that she calls “visioning.” This situation doesn’t happen to all her patients, but it does happen to most.

A person holding another’s hand in comfort, with purple and blue light around their touch.

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Visioning is when people who are about to die believe that they’re seeing their loved ones who have already passed away. Often, these people also believe they’re seeing their animals, such as their old dogs, who have died.

A Visit From the Past

McFadden stated that her hospice patients would be visited by these deceased people or pets, and they would think that they were still alive. They truly thought they were in the room with them.

A vase of flowers for someone who has passed away.

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“The craziest things we see on hospice is that most people will start seeing dead relatives, dead loved ones, dead friends, dead pets before they die,” McFadden explained.

When Does This Happen?

McFadden has also stated that this phenomenon can happen at many different times. However, it almost always happens when one of her patients is near death.

A person sleeping in a hospital bed.

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Therefore, this means that a person can experience this situation anywhere from a month to a few weeks — or even a few days or hours — before they pass away.

Understanding Visioning

As McFadden has seen this happen before in her line of work, she understands that visioning often means her patient will soon die.

A woman pushing an older lady in a wheelchair outside on the grass during sunset.

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McFadden said in her video, “Usually, it’s a good indicator that the person is getting close to death, usually a month or a few weeks before they die. This brings me comfort, I hope it brings you comfort.”


Why Does This Happen?

The hospice nurse also took the time in her video to explain that she’s not sure why visioning happens. Other healthcare workers aren’t sure, either, though those who are religious often believe it’s a spiritual event.

A woman in a hospital laying down on a bed with an IV in her hand.

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“We have no idea why this happens,” McFadden said. “We are not claiming that they really are seeing these people. We have no idea.”


Warning Families

McFadden also explained that she and other hospice nurses make sure to warn both the patient and their families about visioning, so they know what to expect.

A black and white photo of a stethoscope on a bed.

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Visioning can be quite alarming for patients and families, so nurses try to make sure they know that this situation could happen to them before the patient passes away.


Similar Experiences

McFadden’s TikTok post received more than 572,000 views and 48,000 likes. Many commented on her video that they had seen their family members go through similar situations before they passed away.

A dog laying in the grass during a sunset outside.

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“My grandma saw dogs in her room a month before she passed,” one commenter posted. “She was so happy. Always loved dogs.”


Slight Differences

Intriguingly, other hospice nurses have long said the same thing McFadden has — though some had slight differences. Carolyn Quach-Huynh, a nurse at Crossroads Hospice, explained she’s seen patients see many different people, not just their loved ones.

A person holding the hand of another who is in the hospital.

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“Sometimes patients don’t see a loved one, but they say they see spirits they don’t know popping in to visit. Sometimes, it is many people. They’ll say the room is crowded,” Quach-Huynh said. “It’s also not always a vision. It can be a deceased spouse or parent appearing in dreams. Or a familiar smell – like cigars or a certain perfume.”


Going on a Journey

Sometimes, visioning results in patients revealing that they’re going to soon go on a journey. Patients have said that their loved one — who is deceased — visited them and is going to take them on this new adventure.

A brown suitcase in the middle of a road in the daytime.

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All these different aspects of visioning are incredibly common, even though many people don’t openly talk about its occurrence. 


What Does Science Say?

While some studies have been conducted on end-of-life visions, science hasn’t really had the chance to fully declare what visioning is. These studies haven’t been able to pinpoint why this happens.

A person holding another’s hand in comfort.

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However, one study has claimed this experience often feels quite spiritual to patients. Another report has explained that, of all the hospice patients a part of the study, all experienced some level of visioning.