Clocks Stopping At The Time Of Death

gattino

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Probably the world's pre-eminent chronicler of death bed experiences and phenomena, neurophysiologist Dr Peter Fenwick reports a number of such incidents of clocks stopping at the moment of death as being ( not quite) as frequently reported by relatives and attendees at the death bed as lights, mists, dream visitations etc , in his book The Art of Dying.

In my collection on here of tales from my airbnb guests a closely equivalent incident was reported by a young woman who's father had been taken into hospital with a massive heart attack. She and her brother were in the family waiting room and were fascinated to watch the hands of the clock on the wall spin round and come to a dead stop (though not the correct time) at the moment the consultant entered to inform them their father had passed away.
 
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gattino

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Dr Fenwick references the clock phenomena with an example around 17 minutes 50 seconds in this vid. Perhaps more interestingly he tells you where you can go and see the actual clock referenced in the famous song!
 

EnolaGaia

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It wouldn't surprise me if people stopped the clocks when they covered the windows and mirrors with black cloth etc as a mark of mourning. ...

Agreed ... I think stopping a clock - particularly in the same room where the deceased expired or would be displayed for a wake - was a sort of symbolic gesture.

There's another possible angle that occurred to me ... The original stories of clocks stopping at someone's death date back to the time when clocks were mechanical, watches weren't so common, and people often died at home. Stopping a mechanical clock in the room (or nearby within the home) was a quick and easy way to "record" the time of death for further reference (e.g., reporting the death and / or filling out a death certificate later).

In a moment of presumed stressful preoccupation stopping a mechanical clock would arguably be as quick or quicker than trying to find a pen and paper.
 

GNC

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Wouldn't the clock or watch stopping at or near time of death be more traditionally explained by the deceased not being alive anymore to wind it? Before the days of batteries, of course.
 

gattino

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A lot of posts here assume its a folklore rather than a common lived (pardon the pun) experience. But a simple google provides plenty of first hand accounts.

"Deanna Mottershead, 73, a retired hotel services manager, lives in Llandudno, North Wales, with her husband, Alan, 83, a retired sales manager. She says:

In January 1962, my fiancé Tony had a scooter crash and lay in hospital, unconscious, for a week.

It was devastating and I sat constantly by his bedside willing him to recover. Then, one day, he squeezed my hand as I talked to him.

I left the hospital convinced he would recover and headed straight for his parents’ house.

There, a large, wind-up clock sat on the mantelpiece. At 3.15pm, the phone suddenly rang. It was the hospital. Tony had died a quarter of an hour earlier.

His parents and I sobbed and clung to each other, shocked to our core. Only later did we look at the clock, which had been wound, as usual, the night before. It had stopped at the exact time of Tony’s death — 3pm.

At the time, it was too much to comprehend. But years later I realised it couldn’t have just been by chance. Even so, nothing could have prepared us for what happened when my 62-year-old father, Richard, had a heart attack in August 1975. He was rushed to hospital but, when his condition stabilised that evening, my mother and I were sent home.

At 1.45am, a neighbour woke us by knocking on the door. The hospital had called her — we didn’t have a phone at home then — with the news that Dad had died at 1.20am.

Hours later, after the shock had worn off, I stumbled up to bed and saw that my reliable little travel alarm clock had stopped — at exactly 1.20pm.

While I was still grief-stricken, I took a tiny piece of comfort from seeing that clock, frozen in time. Somehow, in a strange way, I felt I was still close to Dad and it helped me through those awful hours.

This wasn’t the last time a clock marked the end of the life of someone close to me.


One evening in 2002, when my husband and I were out, we received a phone call to say that Mum, 87, had died in a nursing home. I couldn’t help but say to my husband: ‘I wonder if anything has happened to the clock at home?’

When we arrived home, to our amazement, we found our battery-operated clock had literally exploded. The time it stopped? 6pm — the exact time of Mum’s death.

I can never explain three deaths, three clocks and those three moments in time. But it comforts me and I feel in some way they are still connected to me.

I miss them — but I haven’t lost them entirely."

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ar...ostly-events-surrounding-deaths-families.html
 

gattino

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Here's an entire article about it with the following quoted passages:

"I never could explain this. When my father died, the clock was found to have stopped just at the same time. Later when I took it to the jeweler, because it would not run, he said it was beyond repair. It was a Swiss clock and had been a wedding gift to my parents; Dad had always kept it going, but we never got it to run again"

""One person told me her watch had stopped at the moment her husband died and she never got it repaired. I saw her six months later at the service and I said to her: 'Have you still got the watch?' and she laughed; she said, 'Yes, I bought a new one. I'm not going to have it repaired. It hasn't gone [i.e., worked] since.""

"A friend of mine, her twin sister died and they were just so close, I'm sure she could have told you far more but I do remember about the clock stopping at the time of Maggie's death. This was the surviving sister, in her house, and they were living separately but only just around the corner from each other."

"We had a pendulum clock (which we wound every Sunday) in our room. We also had a musical clock which we wound every evening, and we had my husband's pocket watch. On the evening before Thanksgiving day, 1913, we talked a minute and said good night to each other. All three clocks stopped at once. My husband got up, gave the weights a shove, shook the little musical clock and his pocket watch; and they ran again. In two weeks we received word that my husband's father in Austria had died the same day and hour."

https://www.psychicalresearchfounda...alous-physical-effect-reported-around-the-tim
 

EnolaGaia

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Wouldn't the clock or watch stopping at or near time of death be more traditionally explained by the deceased not being alive anymore to wind it? Before the days of batteries, of course.

Yes / no / sorta / maybe ...

The timepiece's stopping (in general) would certainly be explained by its not having been rewound.

This wouldn't necessarily explain why the timepiece was believed to have stopped at or near the time of death.

Older mechanical clocks and watches required rewinding as often as each day (every 24 hours, more or less). More modern ones could last more than 24 hours on a single winding. Some larger or more elaborate mechanical clocks were sometimes capable of running for up to (e.g.) 48 or 72 hours on a single winding - especially those whose mechanism relied on (e.g.) a suspended descending weight rather than a spring alone. More modern "self-winding" wristwatches required the watch to be worn and the wearer's wrist to be in motion for the mechanism to wind the mainspring.

(I'll continue based on the most common 24-hour winding cycle ... )

If a running clock was discovered to have stopped immediately upon or after witnessing the moment of death there would have been a strong basis for correlating the two events (assuming the clock displayed the correct time).

The extent to which such a correlation basis is reasonable diminishes with the amount of time that could have passed before the death and / or the timepiece's stopping had been confirmed.

At the extreme of uncertainty - i.e., when neither the death nor the timepiece's stopping were witnessed to have occurred in realtime, and either / both could have "expired" within the span of the timepiece's operation on a single winding - there's really no basis for assuming they happened in conjunction with each other.

Remember the old saying: "Even a broken clock is accurate twice a day."

As this saying indicates, there's a further cause for uncertainty. If the deceased wasn't discovered until after his / her death, and the clock was stopped at (e.g.) 3:00, you might still be unable to determine whether any moment of possible simultaneous expiration occurred in the wee hours of the night versus mid-afternoon.
 

gattino

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Some more stories online:
"“I HAVE never believed in the supernatural. But three years ago in this very room something very mysterious happened. You see the old clock over there on the wall. It was grandpa’s. He bought it while he was overseas as a young sailor. He was always so proud of it and liked to tell everybody how reliable it was. As you can see it is stopped now. Grandpa died in the hospital a few miles from here, and at the same instant the clock stopped after having ticked for seventy years! Grandpa himself must have stopped it, mustn’t he?”"

********************
"About 15 years ago, my grandmother lay in the hospital in intensive care. One of her heart valves had ruptured, and she was in bad shape. My family stayed with her, but I was very sick at the time, so I stayed a while then went home and waited for word if I should go back to the hospital if things got worse. I stayed up into the evening, and looked at the clock now and then to check the time. After several hours passed, I realized the kitchen clock had stopped. I thought nothing of it till I checked the time again about a half hour later. The kitchen clock was still stopped. I thought maybe its battery had run down, so I checked the microwave clock. It also had stopped at the same time, about 9:15 p.m. I realized that it might not have been a coincidence that two different types of clocks, a battery powered clock and an AC powered clock, had stopped at the same time, without any interruptions to the house's electricity. After a while, it occurred to me that maybe my grandmother had died, and her spirit had come to the house to let me know she'd died. Anyway, soon after the clocks stopped, my family called me from the hospital to tell me that my grandmother had indeed died, then they came home and told me more, but in the hubbub, I forgot about the clock happenings. It took me a couple days to question my mother about my grandmother's exact time of death, and I realized then that the clocks had stopped about the time or several minutes after my grandmother had died. Interestingly enough, by the morning after my grandmother's death, the clocks had all "fixed" themselves and were displaying the proper time (as checked against the TV). Only recently did I think to check and see if other people had ever experienced the phenomenon of clocks stopping when someone died. Of course, I was not surprised to find that it does happen, because it happened to me."

********************************

"My father passed away last week and and we have noticed 3 clocks in our home have are all 'stopped' within 4 minutes of eachother and all the clocks have stopped at the time be was passing and when he took his last breath.... 2.40pm 2.42pm 2.44pm The clocks were in the 2 dining rooms where he loved to spend time with family during a meal and the third clock is in his shed where he spend countless hours.... I was with him in his final moments which were truely spectacular and when he took his last breath I remember looking at the clock at the hospice and saw it was a little before 2.45 pm??? The moments leading up to the last breath were quite unusual...certainly things were changing which I saw with my own eyes, it was almost like his eyes showed he recovered from his illness, but he must have seen something pretty special. it was very peaceful. Of all the possible combinations of time a clock could possibly stop at...to have 3 in the one home stop within minutes of his passing time is too much of a coincidence in my opinion "
 

RaM

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This is more or less exactly the opposite,
Three friends of mine died in a air crash, one had a then new tech digital watch that supposedly never
needed a battery I seem to remember that it was solar powered, so needed to be worn and see the sun
to keep charged.
About 3 years after his death I had to visit his mother, she opened a drawer to get me something but
what drew my eye was the watch, it was scared muddy and the strap was missing but was still going
and showing the right time, I was amazed it could possibly have survived and kept time even though
it was in a closed drawer.
 

PeteS

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Some more stories online:
"“I HAVE never believed in the supernatural. But three years ago in this very room something very mysterious happened. You see the old clock over there on the wall. It was grandpa’s. He bought it while he was overseas as a young sailor. He was always so proud of it and liked to tell everybody how reliable it was. As you can see it is stopped now. Grandpa died in the hospital a few miles from here, and at the same instant the clock stopped after having ticked for seventy years! Grandpa himself must have stopped it, mustn’t he?”"

********************
"About 15 years ago, my grandmother lay in the hospital in intensive care. One of her heart valves had ruptured, and she was in bad shape. My family stayed with her, but I was very sick at the time, so I stayed a while then went home and waited for word if I should go back to the hospital if things got worse. I stayed up into the evening, and looked at the clock now and then to check the time. After several hours passed, I realized the kitchen clock had stopped. I thought nothing of it till I checked the time again about a half hour later. The kitchen clock was still stopped. I thought maybe its battery had run down, so I checked the microwave clock. It also had stopped at the same time, about 9:15 p.m. I realized that it might not have been a coincidence that two different types of clocks, a battery powered clock and an AC powered clock, had stopped at the same time, without any interruptions to the house's electricity. After a while, it occurred to me that maybe my grandmother had died, and her spirit had come to the house to let me know she'd died. Anyway, soon after the clocks stopped, my family called me from the hospital to tell me that my grandmother had indeed died, then they came home and told me more, but in the hubbub, I forgot about the clock happenings. It took me a couple days to question my mother about my grandmother's exact time of death, and I realized then that the clocks had stopped about the time or several minutes after my grandmother had died. Interestingly enough, by the morning after my grandmother's death, the clocks had all "fixed" themselves and were displaying the proper time (as checked against the TV). Only recently did I think to check and see if other people had ever experienced the phenomenon of clocks stopping when someone died. Of course, I was not surprised to find that it does happen, because it happened to me."

********************************

"My father passed away last week and and we have noticed 3 clocks in our home have are all 'stopped' within 4 minutes of eachother and all the clocks have stopped at the time be was passing and when he took his last breath.... 2.40pm 2.42pm 2.44pm The clocks were in the 2 dining rooms where he loved to spend time with family during a meal and the third clock is in his shed where he spend countless hours.... I was with him in his final moments which were truely spectacular and when he took his last breath I remember looking at the clock at the hospice and saw it was a little before 2.45 pm??? The moments leading up to the last breath were quite unusual...certainly things were changing which I saw with my own eyes, it was almost like his eyes showed he recovered from his illness, but he must have seen something pretty special. it was very peaceful. Of all the possible combinations of time a clock could possibly stop at...to have 3 in the one home stop within minutes of his passing time is too much of a coincidence in my opinion "

The last story of the 3 clocks is interesting, in particular the reference to father enjoying and spending time in the rooms where the clocks were. It's as if the clocks sensed that the atmosphere in the rooms had changed and would never be the same again. Esoteric maybe. Of course father may have wound the clocks in the mid afternoon (if not battery or mains powered) and they stopped because he was no longer around to do so. I prefer the former explanation. All the clocks in my house stopped within weeks after a death ( but not at the time of death ) and I could never get any of them to work again. I like to think the deceased was playing with me like she did when alive.
 

GerdaWordyer

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I bet the clock lore and traditions contribute to the popularity of the Auden poem at funerals and memorial services:
"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come."
 

Vardoger

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This is more or less exactly the opposite,
Three friends of mine died in a air crash, one had a then new tech digital watch that supposedly never
needed a battery I seem to remember that it was solar powered, so needed to be worn and see the sun
to keep charged.
About 3 years after his death I had to visit his mother, she opened a drawer to get me something but
what drew my eye was the watch, it was scared muddy and the strap was missing but was still going
and showing the right time, I was amazed it could possibly have survived and kept time even though
it was in a closed drawer.
Watches like that usually has a reserve of 5-7 months when not exposed to the sun, they go into hibernation. There are probably a few which can last years in hibernation. Remember if it was a Citizen, Seiko, Casio or Tissot?
 

escargot

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I bet the clock lore and traditions contribute to the popularity of the Auden poem at funerals and memorial services:
"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come."

Was that poem much used at funerals before it was in the fillum? I seem to remember reading that it was one of his lesser-known works until then.

(I already knew it well, having done it for A Level English. I was for a while puzzled by the male pronouns and general blokiness of this and others of Auden's love poems, durrrrr.)
 

Min Bannister

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Remember the old saying: "Even a broken clock is accurate twice a day."
You probably more or less have it there. Clocks stop sometimes. There must be many millions of clocks and watches in the world. Over 150, 000 people die every day on Earth. Out of all those clocks and deaths around the world all the time, sometimes a clock will stop at the same time as its owner dies. This particular clock passes into legend. All of the other clocks that DIDN'T stop do not.
 

GNC

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You probably more or less have it there. Clocks stop sometimes. There must be many millions of clocks and watches in the world. Over 150, 000 people die every day on Earth. Out of all those clocks and deaths around the world all the time, sometimes a clock will stop at the same time as its owner dies. This particular clock passes into legend. All of the other clocks that DIDN'T stop do not.

Yeah, I think this is a lot more down to statistics than the supernatural. Why would a clock stop at time of death anyway? How would it be physically connected to its owner (even a watch just has the band)?
 

gattino

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Well from the articles quote above (in sections i didn't post) there is apparently speculation that clocks stopping, rather like lights flickering etc, may be evidence of some electromagnetic component to the moment of death (though im not sure how that would apply when the clock in question is not in the same building as the patient) . But if its psychic or supernatural in origin - whether the trigger is the dead or the still living - the connection is surely one of symbolism. The hands stop ticking as the heart stops beating. The realm of ghosts, esp, precognition, the unconscious etc often appears to have some correlation to the world of dreams, which is a world that operates on symbols and metaphors. Whether the catalyst is the dead person or those they leave behind who find the clock, its stopping may be the result of a symbol filled unconscious mind producing poltergeist effects.
 

Bad Bungle

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You probably more or less have it there. Clocks stop sometimes. There must be many millions of clocks and watches in the world. Over 150, 000 people die every day on Earth. Out of all those clocks and deaths around the world all the time, sometimes a clock will stop at the same time as its owner dies. This particular clock passes into legend. All of the other clocks that DIDN'T stop do not.

Reminded me of Uri Geller a few years ago on that there telly attempting some long distance spookiness over the airwaves. Many people wrote in to say their watch had stopped at that exact moment. The killjoys pointed out that watches do occasionally stop without you noticing, until your attention is drawn in that direction.
 

Bad Bungle

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What if the clocks 'die' and cause the demise of the owners ?

Death Clocks
Clocks.jpg
 

Min Bannister

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I am currently reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman and it mentions an interesting modern twist to this which I hadn't thought of before. The victims death was measured to the precise minute by getting the data from his Fitbit! Given how popular these and similar devices are, it must be making judging the time of death for people (murdered or otherwise) a hell of a lot easier than it used to be.
 
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