This week I am talking to Dr Marylin Mendoza about her book ‘We Do Not Die Alone: Jesus Is Coming to Get Me in a White Pickup Truck’
Marilyn Mendoza, Ph.D., is a clinical instructor in the psychiatry department at Tulane University Medical Center and a private practice psychologist specializing in bereavement.
The book is an amazing chronicle of the nurses who have been present at the bedside of their dying patients. These patients have seen familiar “people” who have come to help them make their transitions. These experiences have left the patients, their families and their nurses with a deep sense of peace.
These are just some of the stories that were collected while conducting a survey on the effects of deathbed visions on nurses. A deathbed vision (DBV) is a vision or experience that the individual has before dying. They can occur immediately before death, days or even weeks prior. Patients have reported seeing dead family members, religious figures or beautiful scenery. With a DBV, unlike a Near Death Experience (NDE), death is final and no one comes back to talk about the experience.
The stories were a product of a survey conducted among various nursing professionals in Louisiana prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in Maryland in 2006. There were 234 respondents (221 Registered Nurses and 13 Licensed Practical Nurses) from hospices, hospitals, nursing conferences, nursing homes and home health facilities. The forms were filled out anonymously and with the exception of age and sex, no identifying information was given about the patients. The survey consists of 14 items which were developed to examine nurses’ perceptions of deathbed visions. The last item was a blank page in which nurses were asked to write about some of their more memorable experiences. The stories in this book are the result of these responses. The nurses’ words are as they were written.
‘A male hospice patient in his 60’s with cancer was minimally responsive and nearing transition when he sat up and began to call for his mother. He was smiling joyfully and described his mother as coming to get him in a white pickup truck. She was sitting in the passenger seat next to Jesus who was driving the truck. His little pet bird was sitting on Jesus’ shoulder. The man died shortly after this. On his wife’s return home, she found the little pet bird was dead in its cage.’