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End-of-Life Dreams and Visions in Pediatric Patients: A Case Study

Journal title
Journal of palliative medicine
Publication year
Levy, K.; Grant, P. C.; Kerr, C. W.

Background: End-of-life dreams and visions (ELDVs) are a recognized phenomenon that can occur as part of the normal dying process. Data suggest that ELDVs can provide comfort, foster discussion of waking life concerns, and lessen the fear of death. Current literature on ELDVs focuses on the prevalence, content, and effects of ELDVs exclusively in adult populations. Methods: We present the case of a 15-year-old girl with terminal glioblastoma who was enrolled in a pediatric palliative care program and later in hospice care. During her end-of-life trajectory, the patient experienced two distinct ELDV experiences, from which she recalled vivid details regarding the setting, characters, and content. These ELDV experiences afforded comfort and meaning to the patient and her family through her end-of-life trajectory as well as provided relief for her grieving family. Conclusion: In the case presented, ELDVs appear to show similar characteristics and impact in the adolescent population as described in the previous literature examining adult ELDVs. In addition, this case demonstrates the potential benefits of ELDV awareness for the bereaved. Clinicians working with pediatric and adolescent end-of-life populations should take note of the potential for ELDVs and the impact they can have on both patients and families.

Research abstracts