The topic of end-of-life experiences (ELEs) in animals is an emerging area of research that aims to investigate and understand the behaviors and phenomena observed in domesticated animals during their final moments of life. Drawing from case reports submitted by pet owners, researchers examine similarities between these ELEs in animals and those reported in near-death states in humans. This area of study not only sheds light on the emotional and psychological aspects of dying in animals but also highlights the potential commonalities in the dying process across species.

Reports of after-death communications (ADCs) echo the emotional depth found in ELEs, and further enriches our understanding of the parallels between humans and animals in both life's final moments and the bereavement process that follows. As more research is conducted, a better understanding of these experiences may clarify their fundamental nature—determining whether they are best regarded as internal hallucinations, as living-agent-psi-mediated subjective or objective phenomena, or as actual contacts with the deceased—which in turn carries implications not only for academic studies of bereavement but for clinical practice with the bereaved.

Scientific Papers on End-of-Life Experiences

After-Death Communications (ADCs) from Non-Human Animals: Parallels with Human ADCs

Journal of Scientific Exploration (2024 Spring) Vol. 38, No. 1
by James G. Matlock, Bethany Hilton, Rupert Sheldrake, Pam Smart, and Michael Nahm

Abstract

In an earlier study, Rupert Sheldrake, Pam Smart, and Michael Nahm reviewed accounts of end-of-life experiences (ELEs) involving non-human animals. They showed animal ELEs to be similar to human ELEs, suggesting common underlying processes. Here, we consider apparent after-death communications (ADCs) from non-human animals and compare them to accounts of ADCs from humans. We collected 442 accounts of animal ADCs from our own appeals and from reports in the literature. We found a close resemblance between ADCs from animals and from humans in the types of experience—dream visitations, a sense of presence, visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory apparitions, and psychokinetic effects. As with human ADCs, the great majority of animal ADCs were reported to have occurred in the first hours or days after death, with a dramatic falling off over time. Moreover, our data show that people grieve their pets in much the same fashion as they grieve their human loved ones, suggesting that human bereavement studies would do well to take into account the animal data to which we draw attention. Doing so may help clarify issues regarding the fundamental nature of the experiences–determining whether they are best regarded as internal hallucinations, as living-agent-psi-mediated subjective or objective phenomena, or as actual contacts with the deceased—which in turn carries implications not only for academic studies of bereavement but for clinical practice with the bereaved.

Case Collection of Animal ADCs

Supplementary material to the paper
Journal of Scientific Exploration (2024 Spring) Vol. 38, No. 1
by James G. Matlock, Bethany Hilton, Rupert Sheldrake, Pam Smart, and Michael Nahm

Experiences of Dying Animals: Parallels With End-of-Life Experiences in Humans

Journal of Scientific Exploration (2023 Spring) Vol. 37, No. 1
https://doi.org/10.31275/20222773
by Rupert Sheldrake, Pam Smart, and Michael Nahm

Abstract

There has recently been an increased interest in end-of-life experiences (ELEs) in humans, but ELEs in non-human animals have not yet been assessed. In this paper, we present findings from a study we performed to collect and analyze reports about remarkable behavioral aspects of animals during their last phase of life. After public appeals in which we asked for reports about ELEs in animals, we received numerous responses from pet owners. We were able to group these experiences into specific categories, which we termed the last goodbyes, last visits, last rally, retreating into solitude, unusual premonitions of death, somatic surprises, terminal lucidity in animals, and potential near-death visions in animals. We present 43 case reports pertaining to these different categories. Many of them show striking similarities to remarkable behavior reported by dying people. This similarity between animal and human ELEs might be a sign of a common physiology underpinning such experiences and could also increase the recognition that animals share an inner life similar to that of humans during all phases of life. This could lead to a more respectful treatment of pets, as well as of animals in farms, zoos, and in the wild. However, as our study was of a preliminary character and only the first of its kind, we encourage further systematic research in this field. In the Supplementary Material, we publish 71 additional cases for those who would like to study more examples.

Case Collection of Experiences with Dying Animals

Supplementary material to the paper
Journal of Scientific Exploration (2023 Spring) Vol. 37, No. 1
by Rupert Sheldrake, Pam Smart, and Michael Nahm