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Strange Deathbed Mist & Light Explained by Michael Tymn

Posted on 04 October 2010, 23:09

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’.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.


My sister had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I was her caregiver.
Charlotte my older sister and I knew that something was gonna happened to her that night so we stayed up with her all night. Sitting by her side talking to her holding her hand. When I heard her gurgle or something when I looked, there was a buff of smoke, like when your outside in the cold and you can see your breath, came out of her mouth.  I was so shocked I asked my sister did you see that? She didn’t see it but I know what I saw and it was real. At first I thought I was going crazy, then I looked it up and others have had the same experience.
Thank you DeDe for allowing me to experience that

Rene’, Sat 14 Apr, 04:23

My only aunt passed away when I was a child. At her wake, I remember seeing a black/dark grey funnel of smoke spinning above her chest. It was short in height but it was very wide. It took up most of her torso area. It also spun very slowly. I remember trying to touch it but my dad pulled my hand away and said not to touch her. I asked if he saw it too but he didn’t. My mom was surprised to hear that I saw it because she saw it also. I wonder what it was?

Hazy, Mon 26 Feb, 03:40

Thanks to Nando and all others who have shared their experiences.  The cumulative testimony certainly points to the reality of soul mist.

Michael Tymn, Sat 3 Feb, 04:53

This is something I share with many people. It is meant to give comfort in knowing there is more out there waiting for us all. On November 26 2016 my brother in law Joe who was a best friend to me passed in a hospital room after being in a coma for almost 2 weeks. We all were gathered around him when he was pronounced dead by the Doctor. Soon everyone started to leave the room to go home and console his wife, (my wife’s sister) and each other. As my wife and I were leaving I noticed Joe was going to be alone. I told my wife I am going to stay with him until the orderlies come to take him away.  Then it was just Joe and I in the room, I sat talked to him and prayed. A nurse came in we spoke, I told her what a great person Joe was. I was lucky to know him. I made her cry a little. Then she told me she has never seen anyone stay with the body before like this. Families tend to scatter once someone is pronounced dead.  A couple of minutes later, another sister in law and her husband came in. They said their good byes to Joe. The nurse then walks in and tells us “Can you step out of the room, we are going to clean him up now and take all the tubes out. We are going to put him in a body bag”. My sister in law and brother in law said they could not bare to see him like that. I told them don’t worry I will stay with Joe to the end, then they left. I went back into the room, it was just Joe and I again.  As I sat there, I saw the bag. White and pristine. I spoke to Joe, I prayed, I cried, I had my head in my hand. I said Joe, I’ll stay with you here until the end, but I hope you are not waiting around for me. If you have to go somewhere go. At that moment I was looking straight at the body bag. I saw a very thin mist or smoke rise from the body bag about 4 feet in the air. When it got to about 4 feet in the air it disappeared so fast. The only way I can describe is if you have ever seen a jet break the sound barrier. One second it is there, then it is gone. The look on my face was like, “no one will believe me,” but I don’t care I know what I saw. There was a camera in that hospital room. I always wonder what it could of picked up. I know it must have gotten the look on my face. The orderlies came about 20 minutes later and I asked them this, “take care of my brother.” The next day I looked on the internet and saw articles that this is actually a thing that happens.  It makes me think, why do we need these bodies if we have some kind of spirit already that floats around? I came to the realization we use our bodies, these shells as a tool, to make bonds through life with love ones, friends. It’s how we connect. Once you have your connections no one or nothing can take that away from you. Not even death. So now I try to make as many good connections as I can, that will stay with me into the next life. Not money, not power, but pure love. That is the true secret to life, happiness, understanding and strength. Thank you for your website Michael Tymn.

Nando Caldarone, Fri 2 Feb, 08:22

January 20, 2018 my good friend passed away at the age of 54 due to liver cirrhosis I was not present at her death, But I got the call half an hour after she died and I mediately began talking to her I picked up my phone and began videoing around the house asking if she’s here if she could hear me and I captured her spirit it was like a tiny spark of light the dirt around and hovered over me closer to the ceiling and then darted away and wonder if I’m going to see her again I really hope so

Terri, Sun 21 Jan, 21:12

Three days after I watched my brother-in-law take his last breath and die in hospice, I was laying on my couch in the middle of the afternoon and I felt and saw a misty Cloud Mass looming behind me. I am mediately got up and looked around and it flew away and disappeared quickly right in front of me. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

Cathy, Fri 24 Nov, 00:37

The hospice chaplain said she had only a few hours. I asked my mother, “if you can, let me know that you’re okay after you leave?” She wiggled her eyebrows in agreement. An hour and forty-seven minutes later, sleeping on a cot next to her I was awakened by every sound imaginable. Bells, horns, voices. Then a hard push upward. The room was quiet. I said Mom. Staring at her face, she took a last deep breath and then her face froze. It looked liked she turned off. Then a white-blue mist appeared above her chest area. It acknowledged my presence and then anxiously went through me and out the window. I believe that my mother died and was born on July 28, 2017. I know that she is alright.

Joanne, Wed 22 Nov, 20:21

God tells us in the KJB, and I quote:

You all received a blessing from God, when you witnessed exactly what He tells us in the BIBLE.  Torchy Massie

Torchy Massie, Sun 12 Nov, 03:12

My mother in law was the sweetest most joy-filled Christian I’ve ever known.  There were four of us sitting in her hospice room.  The nurse had just left the room for a moment.  I was sitting at the foot of her bed.  The others were a few feet away talking together in low voices.  My MIL was breathing raggedly but steadily.  I saw a beautiful pearly mist come up from her face and hover over her chest.  I stood and stared for a few moments.  I removed my glasses and cleaned them thinking they had fogged.  I put them on and the mist remained swirling like smoke.  I turned to the others and told them something was happening.  When I turned back the mist was gone.  The others moved to her side and then her breathing stopped.  At the funeral her sisters heard what I saw and they told me that my MIL wanted me to see her leave because she knew my faith needed reassurance.  I don’t know if that’s true or if I was in the right place at the right moment to see.  I would like to believe she chose to leave when I could see her.

Jen, Tue 7 Nov, 01:46

my dog died a month ago. I was holding him and saw a mist rise above his body and disappear two seconds later - he then took his last breath. I love him very much and believe it was his soul. It was a beautiful feeling; a gift.

Love Chester so much!

Angela, Mon 18 Sep, 05:44

When my mom passed away in Aug of 2014, I was holding her hand in the emergency room.  They had just taken her off the life support and the staff had left the room.  After what seemed like a couple of minutes I though someone had turned on a light and it was shining on Mom’s face. I started to turn to look where it was and just at that moment I saw a mist rise above Mom’s head.  I knew right then that Mom was gone to heaven.

Frank, Thu 7 Sep, 00:15

Two nights before my mother died she was a bit upset i was trying to comfort her i was standing in front of her i saw something dark fly out of her mouth i thought it landed on my top but i could not find anything has anyone ever seen anything like that happen ? my husband and a friend was there but did not seam to have seen it i was afraid to say what id seen encase they though i was mad .

paula doyle, Tue 22 Aug, 00:03

My mother died from repository failure in a nursing home after several bouts with eneumonia. A bout ten minutes before she passed away, I saw a silvery ribbon of smoke leave through her left eye. It vanished quickly. The doctor came in a little while later and told us she was gone.

Kathleen, Sat 5 Aug, 03:39

Immediately after my fatherr passed,, I definitely saw a mini speeding comet come and go so fast In the hospital room. I don’t know the direction if went in.  When my mother passed, shortly before she was pronounced dead in the hospital, I saw a beautiful yellow light from both her usually very clear beautiful loving green eyes. I know she was telling me she could see god/heaven and that she’ll be ok.

Ann, Wed 12 Jul, 19:03

My mother died in 2009 in her 90’s. I was sitting beside the bed holding her hand when she clucked (tongue sucking on roof of mouth). I jumped up and put my face within inches of hers. I saw the clearest most perfectly formed like glass tube come down to her mouth and a fog or mist entered and went upward in the tube. It lasted for a second or more or less but was there. I saw it!!! And it suddenly withdrew up and her life had ended. I remember it now as clear as I saw it then.

George Duke, Sun 7 May, 04:12

My mother fell and broke her hip while in a nursing home.  She was also in the last stage of alzheimers.  Doctors were operating on hip and she stopped breathing.  The doctor told me she revived herself.  She quit breathing again and the doctors resuscitated her.  Late that night my brother and I were called to the hospital as mama’s vital organs began to fail.  We stood by her bed no more than an hour and she was making a moaning sound.  When life began to leave her body the moaning sound also rose to the ceiling in the northeast corner of the room.  My brother told me later when I mentioned this to him that he didn’t hear it.  I saw no light or vapor, just the maoning sound.

Barbara, Sun 7 May, 04:05

When my husband died, I was I was sleeping at the foot of his bedi in the hospital. Through closed eyes I saw a light come down as if to kiss my cheek. That second ,my sister-in-law shook me to tell me he had stopped breathing.  A few nights before I woke up to use bathroom and he was at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me. The house was dark, he wasn’t lit up but I could see him clear as day.

Cynthia Zimmerman, Tue 25 Apr, 17:41

My mother passed away a few weeks ago.  I was alone with her in the hospital room when she passed.

I had not slept much for several days and dosed off for about 30 minutes. I suddenly woke up, almost startled,  like something had woke me up.  I looked over at my mom and noticed her breathing had slowed down tremendously.  Then, I observed cloud like substance over the lower part of her body.  It seemed to be in several layers and had movement and sort of twinkling inside the layers. There was a little bit of a glow in and above the cloud.  This cloud gradually started working its way up her entire body until the cloud hovered over her whole body.  Above the cloud substance to the ceiling it appeared to be very blurry, as if I was looking through heat waves, etc.  This lasted about 20-30 seconds.  Then, dissipated.  After it dissipated, I felt the most tremendous peace I have ever felt.  Then, I looked over at my mom and she was no longer breathing. 

I feel like God gave me this special gift.  Whenever I feel sad, I feel that peace come over me again and feel so much comfort from it.

Karen, Tue 11 Apr, 23:58

As my brother was dying he described what he was witnessing. He said he heard horns playing and said the light was getting brighter and brighter. The night he died my mom saw nothing but his face surrounded by bright white lightning, at the foot of her bed. Days later I went to leave out my room. In front of the door was something covered that moved away like is was controlled with a remote. Like a car or robot but we didn’t have any of those toys in the house. We were too poor.

Tasha, Mon 10 Apr, 01:57

I never heard of this until I saw it last week when my girlfriends mother passed away. The family was all around her, including myself, when she took her last breath. I was in the corner of the room while everyone else was surrounding her. Her husband asked someone to get a bucket because of vomiting. At that point, I looked up to see a white mist hovering on the bed. There really was no shape. It seemed as if it was moving like what fog looks like but stayed in the same place. A second later I heard cries that she had stopped breathing. At that instance the mist/fog started rising and disappeared. Took me a day or so to put it all together and researched what other people have seen. The same day she passed away she also thought that there were 4 other people in the room. Her husband and her both heard a few other strange noises during the day that were unexplained. I was not there for that. I did witness the mist. I still don’t understand it and it is always on my mind but I believe I was supposed to see it maybe. God bless you all.

Jamie, Fri 31 Mar, 03:39

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Spirits and Crime by Carl Wickland – Habits, desires and inclinations are rooted in the mind and remain with the individual after he is freed from his physical body, until they are eliminated by the will. The spirits of many criminals, murderers, those who were executed or are seeking for revenge, remain indefinitely in the earth sphere and often endeavor to continue their former activities and to carry out their evil designs through controlling the bodies of mortals who are sensitive to their influence. Read here
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