Apparitions of the Grim Reaper

Some individuals describe seeing the "Grim Reaper" at the foot of their bed or in the middle of a near-death experience (NDE). The figure is described as wearing a hooded cloak, often faceless but occasionally a skeletal figure is visible underneath. The figure often makes individuals feel cold. Undoubtedly, this is a frightening experience. Most report the figure simply fading away once told to leave, or once the individual decided that they are not sick enough to go with him.

In a new book, to be published in April, 2012, entitled Dancing past the dark: Distressing near-death experiences, the author, Nancy Bush, describes not only distressing near-death experiences but also distressing death-bed visions. Based on the information in this book, these Grim Reaper experiences could well be called distressing near-death visits. These experiences are similar to the previously described near-death visits but felt as distressing.

In these cases of distressing near-death visits, the patients perceive a figure as frightening, thus naming it the Grim Reaper. A parallel could be made with a patient who saw a hooded faceless figure but instead of being distressed interpreted the image positively believing the figure to be Jesus. From the research about distressing experiences, we now believe there are distressing near-death experiences, distressing death-bed visions and distressing near-death visits. In all three cases the distress can come from the way a person interprets the image and/or experience not necessarily what is said or done.