Helena Daly

Practitioner, Spiritual and Psychological Care in Hospice and Palliative Care

Type of intervention: Lecture

Title: Dreams, Visions and Death-Bed Encounters: The psychological and spiritual value of working with end-of-life phenomenal experiences.

Abstract: End-of-life experiences such as pre-death dreams, waking visions and death-bed encounters are phenomenal experiences that have been well documented throughout history and across cultures for thousands of years, and their impact on dying individuals and loved ones known to be profoundly meaningful. Phenomenal experiences commonly occur through sleep in deep dream states, in the space between sleeping and waking, and in the waking state as death draws closer.

These types of transpersonal experiences are underreported in hospice and palliative care and undervalued within scientific and medical communities. In the modern medical world, such experiences are rarely emphasized, and tend to be frequently dismissed and misinterpreted. As a result, these important and deeply spiritual experiences which carry significant clinical, educational and therapeutic implications are largely unexplored in clinical literature, education and practice.

When confronted with death, diversifying transpersonal/archetypal dreams frequently come forth through which messages and symbolic representations of death are transmitted. These dreams carry a predictive value given their precognitive nature and deep reflective qualities that indicate the closeness of death approaching. This special category of dreams, therefore, carries an important function: to help prepare psychologically and spiritually for death, thus, helping facilitate peaceful deaths.

In seeking to open out a greater awareness and understanding of the psychological and spiritual value of pre-death dreams and associated phenomenal experiences that occur during the dying process, the barriers to understanding end-of-life phenomena and their clinical and therapeutic value will be addressed. A more holistic approach and dimensional assessment will be offered in the hope of showing how important it is to honor these, and integrate these vital experiences into future models of hospice care. Individual experiences I have been granted permission to share, along with recent research findings will be drawn upon to help aid and deepen this understanding.

Resumed biography: Helena Daly, Ph.D. worked as an Independent Practitioner within the field of Death and Dying for many years in San Francisco, while pursuing her doctorate degree in depth psychology and consciousness studies—specializing in transpersonal dreaming and waking states of being. Her dissertation “Shadowy Beauty: The Art of Hypnopompic Inquiry” was a hermeneutic-phenomenological study of the dream-waking state (the hypnopompic state of consciousness) and transpersonal dreams of numinosity that manifest there. She was awarded the Esalen Research Scholarship (Big Sur, California) for her transpersonal dreamwork and its relation to post-mortem survival.

Shortly after completing her degree, Helena returned to Ireland and continued to work with individuals and families living with terminal illness, working as a ‘Spiritual and Psychological Care Practitioner’ in hospice and palliative Care. She holds a special interest in end-of-life phenomenal experiences (dreams, visions and death-bed encounters) and now works independently as a dream consultant and practitioner, having witnessed throughout her clinical and counselling practice, just how powerful dreams are in helping prepare for dying and death. In addition, Helena also has a private dream practice, offering in-person as well as on-line dream sessions, and holds dream retreats and interdisciplinary educational dream workshops in the West of Ireland.

Alongside this, Helena writes and lectures on dreaming, especially in relation to healing. Her work is being published this fall 2021 in Revision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation based in California, and by the Paradigm Explorer, a Journal for the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN) based in London. She is currently writing her first book “Between the Realms: Subtle Life in Dream, Dying, Death” and works as a freelance writer for Sleepy Lion Publishing.

Helena also holds an MA in Counselling, BA in Psychology, and worked as a nurse in London for several years before embarking on her academic career.

Country: Ireland

Language of the intervention: English