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Strange Deathbed Mist & Light Explained

Posted on 04 October 2010, 22:09

In his recently-released book Glimpses of Eternity, Dr. Raymond Moody, (below) who is known primarily for his pioneering work in near-death experiences, explores the area of deathbed visions and shared-death experiences. In one chapter, Moody discusses a strange mist that is sometimes reported over a deathbed.  “They describe it in various ways,” he writes. “Some say that it looks like smoke, while others say it is as subtle as steam.  Sometimes it seems to have a human shape.  Whatever the case, it usually drifts upward and always disappears fairly quickly.”

raymond moody

Moody and co-author Paul Perry quote a Georgia doctor who twice saw a mist coming up from deceased patients.  The doctor explained that as the patients died they lit up with a bright glow, their eyes shining with a silvery light.  The mist formed over the chest and hovered there, as the doctor observed closely and saw that the mist had depth and complex structure. He further said that it seemed to have layers with energetic motion in it.  During the second occurrence, the doctor felt an unseen presence standing beside him and seemingly waiting for the patient to die.

A hospice psychologist is quoted by Moody as saying that the misty clouds which form above the head or chest seem to have an electrical component to them. A nurse reported seeing a mist rising from many patients as they die, including her father, with whom she saw the mist rise from his chest “as if off a still river,” and then hovering for a few seconds before dissipating.

The bright glow witnessed by the Georgia doctor has also been reported by many other deathbed observers. Moody quotes one man as saying that the room became “uncomfortably bright,” so bright that he couldn’t shut it out even when he closed his eyes.  A hospice nurse reported seeing a “luminous presence floating near the bed, shaped somewhat like a person.”  In the same case, the head nurse saw the light in the room and light coming from the dying person’s eyes but did not observe the presence.

Moody tells of his own experience as he and other family members gathered at the bed of his dying mother.  Among some other strange things, they all saw an unusual light in the room.  “It was like looking at light in a swimming pool at night,” Moody explains.
There are countless reports of dying people having visions of light and seeing loved ones gathering, but skeptics discount them as hallucinations.  However, as Moody points out, it is one thing to claim that the dying person is hallucinating, quite another to claim that healthy people in the room are sharing in the hallucination with the dying person.  He discusses a number of other shared experiences at deathbeds and opines that they tell us more about the afterlife than the NDE and that they are “the key to proving the existence of an afterlife.” (It should be kept in mind that calling something an “hallucination” does not mean it is not “real.”  It is just not objectively real.)

Caregivers Often Witness 

Such misty vapors and “lights” around the deathbed have been reported by other researchers, including Dr. Bernard Laubscher, (below) a South African psychiatrist.  “I was told by different ‘Tant Sannies’ (caregivers) how while watching at the bedside of the dying one with one or two candles burning they had seen the formation of a faint vaporous body, an elongated whitish purplish-like cloud; parallel with the dying person and about two feet above the body,” Laubscher wrote in a 1975 book, Beyond Life’s Curtain.  “Gradually this cloudlike appearance became denser and took on the form, first vaguely and then more definitely, of the person in the bed.  This process continued until the phantom suspended above the body was an absolute replica of the person, especially the face.”

bernard laubscher

Laubscher further reported that these caregivers, some of whom were apparently clairvoyant, reported seeing a ribbon-like cord stretching from the back of the phantom’s head to the body below and that the phantom would begin to glow as it was fully formed. “They noticed that some were more luminous than others and there was a light all around the outline of the [phantom], which I could only compare to a neon tube,” Laubscher added, going on to say that as the phantom righted itself the connecting cord thinned out as if it was fraying away.  Sometimes these clairvoyant caregivers would report joyous faces of other deceased gathering around to welcome the person to the spirit world before the “silver cord” was severed and the visions ceased.

As Laubscher came to understand it, the vaporous material has the same makeup as ectoplasm, the mysterious substance given off by physical mediums before materializations.  It acts as sort of a “glue” in bonding the physical body with the spirit body, and the more materialistic a person the denser the ectoplasm and the more difficulty the person has in “giving up the ghost.”

In their excellent 2008 book, The Art of Dying, Dr. Peter Fenwick, a renowned British neuropsychiatrist, and Elizabeth Fenwick also discuss the “smoke,” “grey mist,” or “white mist” which leaves the body at death.  “Sometimes it will hover above the body before rising to disappear through the ceiling, and it is often associated with love, light, compassion, purity, and occasionally with heavenly music,” they write, adding that not everyone who is in the room sees it.

The Fenwicks quote a woman named Penny Bilcliffe, who was present when her sister died:  “I saw a fast-moving ‘Will ‘o the Wisp’ appear to leave her body by the side of her mouth on the right.  The shock and the beauty of it made me gasp.  It appeared like a fluid or gaseous diamond, pristine, sparkly, and pure, akin to the view from above of an eddy in the clearest pool you can imagine…It moved rapidly upwards and was gone.”

In his 1970 book, Out of the Body Experiences, Dr. Robert Crookall quotes Dr. R. B. Hout, a physician, who was present at the death of his aunt.  “My attention was called…to something immediately above the physical body, suspended in the atmosphere about two feet above the bed.  At first I could distinguish nothing more than a vague outline of a hazy, fog-like substance.  There seemed to be only a mist held suspended, motionless.  But, as I looked, very gradually there grew into my sight a denser, more solid, condensation of this inexplicable vapor.  Then I was astonished to see definite outlines presenting themselves, and soon I saw this fog-like substance was a assuming a human form.”

Hout then saw that the form resembled the physical body of his aunt.  The form hung suspended horizontally a few feet above the body.  When the phantom form appeared complete, Hout saw his aunt’s features clearly.  “They were very similar to the physical face, except that a glow of peace and vigor was expressed instead of age and pain. The eyes were closed as though in tranquil sleep, and a luminosity seemed to radiate from the spirit body.”

Hout then observed a “silverlike substance” streaming from the head of the physical body to the head of the spirit body.  “The colour was a translucent luminous silver radiance.  The cord seemed alive with vibrant energy.  I could see the pulsations of light stream along the course of it, from the direction of the physical body to the spirit ‘double.’  With each pulsation the spirit body became more alive and denser, whereas the physical body became quieter and more nearly lifeless…”

When the pulsations of the cord stopped, Hout could see various strands of the cord snapping.  When the last connecting strand snapped, the spirit body rose to a vertical position, the eyes opened, and a smile broke from the face before it vanished from his sight.

Ectoplasm on the Battlefield

“I have seen ectoplasm on the battlefield,” a young soldier was quoted in the January 25, 1945 issue of Psychic Observer by reporter Ed Bodin. “I have watched it emanate from a badly wounded soldier and then disappear as that soldier breathed his last.  One hillbilly comrade from Kentucky called it ‘soul mist,’ revealing that many natives in his part of the country considered it quite a normal thing, although they seldom talked about it.”

Because his orthodox Christian family frowned on discussion of such occult matters, the young soldier asked not to be identified.  However, he went on to tell how, after being wounded by shrapnel, another soldier lay badly wounded about 10 feet from him.  “I looked at him with pity, forgetting my own pain.  Then in the deepening twilight I saw strange smoke begin to curl above him as though coming from his stomach as he lay on his back moaning.  The stump of his arm was in the thick mud congealing the blood to some extent and making death slower.

“Then I remembered what my friend had said about soul-mist, and I watched fascinated as the ectoplasm became denser and began to flow toward me.  For a moment I thought I saw in it the face of a kindly old lady.  Presently it reached me and for a second I was bewildered by the strange sensation that came over me.  I felt stronger.  With my left arm I raised myself and began to crawl to the dying soldier.  I reached for my canteen of water.  The mist was still around me, and with a sudden effort I was on my feet, and beside the soldier.”

The other soldier died and the young soldier telling the story rose and walked nearly a mile to the Red Cross representative.  He remained unconscious for three days and medical attendants later told him that they could not understand how he had lived, to say nothing of walking the near mile to safety.  “…to my dying day, I shall believe the ectoplasm from the body of that dying soldier had helped me in a mysterious way,” the young soldier added.  “It had given me sufficient strength to save my life.  That soul-mist of a sacrificed soldier was like the spiritual light of Jesus about whom it was said: ‘He could save others, but not Himself’.”

mt shasta

Next Post:  October 19



Today whilst in bed early morning I saw this grey cloud about a foot above my body it seemed to be the shape of my body and between my body and the start of this cloud there was a beautiful clear gap, I know that this is a positive occurance and feel that a form of negative depression has left me as I had hoped and asked for its departure. Love and light from Margaret

Margaret, Tue 24 Nov, 13:05


Thank you for your comment.  My guess is that the soul mist, or whatever we call it, leaves the body only when there is actual death.  Obviously, near-death is not actual death, even if the person is considered “dead” by various medical criteria.

Michael Tymn, Tue 10 Nov, 20:35

This mist or smoke or ectoplasm that leaves the body has been reported in a number of books and articles describing what occurs at the time of death of those who do not come back.

What I find is interesting is there are no reports of this mist like substance leaving the body during a near-death experience.  It may be it doesn’t happen which would tell us something about NDEs or no one has looked for that event during an NDE.  So far we only have documentation of this occurring during a final passing from this world.  Thoughts?

madelaine Lawrence, Sun 8 Nov, 17:42

I don’t know what to call my ability to see a spiritual light in someone’s eyes who is terminal but I can. It happened with both of my grandmothers.  They were stern and had no light then when they became ill they had this beautiful softness about them and a bright white light their Spirit in their eyes.  They both died shortly after I witnessed this light within a couple months.  I would like to develop my psychic abilities because this is not the only gift I have.  I am also able to know when a person is ill.  I begged my sister to please take care of my mother because she was weak I could tell.  two weeks later she was in intensive care.

Tatiana, Tue 27 Oct, 04:41

I have seen this from both my parents..a white mist..I assumed it was their bodies loosing heat.

Karen, Sun 11 Oct, 22:11

I am an RN with 25 years of experience. One day I was sitting in my recliner resting when I felt a slap on my left leg.  I quickly looked at my left leg to see if had reddened from the slap.  I then looked to my left and saw a dark grey figure with mist rotating around it as it. The only thing I could make out was a face with no features with smoke like steam rotating around it in a very structured manner.  I yelled at the figure and told it I wasent afraid of it twice before it turned its head toward my front door and slowly started moving toward the door.  I watched the figure as it lost much of its structure but floated toward the front door and slowly dissipated as it went through the door.  The figure was about 5 feet in height which I thought resembled my grandmother whom I had not contacted in years.  I immediately looked at the Social Security Death Index and found that my grandmother had died 7 months earlier.  I now feel that it was my grandmother and she was telling me that she had passed away.

Derick, Thu 8 Oct, 07:57

so glad to see so many people have seen this blue light/smoke/haze,  even though it was a long time ago i remember it like it was yesterday. i was in bed , in a pitch black room with my dog also snuggled in for the night.  i had my hand on the dogs back like always and he just suddenly growled and bit my hand, ( he had never been aggresive before). i put him out side had to shoo him as he was really upset and i couldnt pick him up. when i went to hop back into bed i noticed a smokey hazy looking blue light in the very corner of the room near the ceiling, i looked for any place this light could be coming from and being a tiny little room with one small window there wernt many , i opened the blond and it was as dark outside as it was in the bedroom. i checked the gaps around the door…..nothing, no electrical gadgets back then. at this stage i was getting a bit panicky, i reached up at the haze (about 12 inches roundish) and waved my hand through it a dozen times or more , it had no effect whatsoever. i stared at it for another 3 or 4 minutes and then bolted into my girlfriends room and told her what happened. she is now my wife (30 years later) and she was as excited as i to read all these similar stories…

tony, Sun 4 Oct, 11:02

I also have seen the mist rising from my mother when she passed,but the mist had an angry face and I have been confused ever since.Has anyone else experienced an angry mist? Does this mean my mother was lost?Any comment would be helpful. 
                  Thank You

joyce, Sat 26 Sep, 15:05


Sorry, I can’t help you with that one. As a former competitive runner, I sometimes ran 100 miles a week, and I never experienced what you describe, nor have I heard of it.  It sounds more physiological than spiritual, and perhaps you should talk to a doctor about it.  However, my guess is that the doctor won’t give you a satisfactory answer.

Michael Tymn, Fri 25 Sep, 19:12

Yea so I dont know how to start this but here it goes, so about 2 1/2 years ago I started to notice smoke or steam coming from my body. Now usually i would see steam like smoke after working out you know, but thats not the case. I am seeing it while I sit or just stay still. I’ll be looking across the room or anywhere for that matter and start seeing smoke coming off my body from my peripheral. Nothing hurts or anything like that im just curious on what it means if anything. Please let me know that im not crazy and that there is a logical explaination for this.

Jason, Fri 25 Sep, 08:28


I don’t know what your father was seeing, but possibly he was seeing your aura, or part of it, as blue.  See
for an interpretation of the color blue.

Michael Tymn, Tue 22 Sep, 18:54

The day before my father passed I was in his room with him and he thought I was smoking he told me there was blue smoke around me what does that mean

Maggie, Sat 19 Sep, 04:30

I was at my father’s side in hospital when he passed, ironically on the Feast Day of the Saint he was named after, at 1 pm. Maybe it’s because I got up to call the nurse when I sensed he was taking his final breaths, but I did not notice a mist. However, the night before he passed, the glass shade from a ceiling fixture did crash onto the hall rug. I did see a mist a few weeks ago, woke up in the middle of the night, thought it was smoke (in a non-smoking household)near my bedroom ceiling, then it started to swirl and come together then disappeared. I wonder if it was a visit from my father?

Jeanne, Tue 23 Jun, 02:08


My sincerest condolences on the transition of your father, but hopefully you are able to find comfort in the conviction that he “lives on” in another realm of existence and that you will see him again.

Michael Tymn, Wed 17 Jun, 06:34

My Father sadly passed away on 12th June.

Daughter, Wed 17 Jun, 04:54

My father is very sick and not expected to recover , 2 nights ago I was around his bed on my own and misty white wavy lines seem to come from his around him and then disappear.  It his happened a couple of times, thought I am seeing things but I know it happened.

Daughter, Thu 11 Jun, 08:44

Last week of April 2015 my sister in law on my left my wife on my right . all of a sudden a formed dense white dense smoke or white cloudy appearance came out of left front chest, I stood up thought a burning lighter in my pocket.formed like a short wooden street electrical post in diameter 4 feet long moving left parallel from the ground going toward to my small Buddha Christian altar and disappears, my wife saw the whole thing and later on she told me she saw white dense smoke cloud rose my back neck rose upwards towards the ceiling at the same time and disappears. Only me and my wife noticed what happened to me . There were five of us during that time our two friends sitting in front of us on the dining table having a late evening snack. Time then was 2345 Hrs. I didn’t any noticed unusual physical feelings except goose bumps .

Art, Wed 20 May, 23:26

When I was 5 my grandfather did not feel well. My mom told him to lay down. I watch my grandfather sleep and shouted out to my mom that there was smoke above my grandfather. My mom rushed to his bed and he had died. That was 45 years ago and the experience has never left me. I can still see it clear as day.

PattiD, Sat 11 Apr, 07:37

My mother died aprox two years ago she was my very best friend. she was almost 86 when she passed away. On her last day of life here on earth my daughter,my wife and i were standing around the bead. As my mom was giving up as her sickness progressed I noticed her face seamed to turn a deathly gray and all breathing had ceased,At that same moment I witnessed a light colored for lack of a better word SMOKE slowly rising from my moms body.The smoky mist rose to about eye level stopped momentarily slowly intertwined and moved so deliberately through the cement block wall. I had asked my wife and daughter if they saw what i saw.Both of them said no Ron we saw nothing. If I could bother you people for a few more minutes I have one more story to tell, As a few days passed by I had a short middle of the night dream,I had taken care of mom and always kept her from falling.On this particular night in my short dream, she had fallen down very hard as I picked her off the floor she seamed to disintegrate into bright colored sparkles. In the year and one half after her death there were no more dreams except one which was eight months ago, In my dream I had walked in to her room and there she was setting on the edge of her bed very up set saying to me oh Ron there is something very very important I have to tell you over and over again,and she then said i am unable to tell you now.I simply told her not to worry every one here is fine. little did I know found out I had a very large cancers tumor on my kidney. I always have been very level headed but I cant figure this out

Ron, Sat 4 Apr, 06:40

Wow I was afraid to tell anyone that I saw what I described as a puff of smoke leaving my dads body.  I thought I was seeing things.  I also experienced a floating feeling while standing next to him.  I felt as if I was going to float upward myself and grasped hard onto the chair.
Being with him every step of the way helped us with his transition.  Hospice nurses are awesome, they helped us as well.

MissyD, Thu 12 Mar, 15:23

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