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Jack D’Isidoro and

Anna Diamond and

Sophia Lanman and

Chris Kerr was 12 when he first observed a deathbed vision. His memory of that summer in 1974 is blurred, but not the sense of mystery he felt at the bedside of his dying father. Throughout Kerr’s childhood in Toronto, his father, a surgeon, was too busy to spend much time with his son, except for an annual fishing trip they took, just the two of them, to the Canadian wilderness. Gaunt and weakened by cancer at 42, his father reached for the buttons on Kerr’s shirt, fiddled with them and said something about getting ready to catch the plane to their cabin in the woods. “I knew intuitively, I knew wherever he was, must be a good place because we were going fishing,” Kerr told me.

Kerr now calls what he witnessed an end-of-life vision. His father wasn’t delusional, he believes. His mind was taking him to a time and place where he and his son could be together, in the wilds of northern Canada.

Kerr followed his father into medicine, and in the last 10 years he has hired a permanent research team that expanded studies on deathbed visions to include interviews with patients receiving hospice care at home and with their families, deepening researchers’ understanding of the variety and profundity of these visions.


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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Isabella Anderson, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Elena Hecht, Emma Kehlbeck, Tanya Pérez and Krish Seenivasan.

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