Signs Indicating Approaching Death

The following are some signs and symptoms associated with death that can be observed a few months, weeks, or days before dying, showing that the body is preparing to shut down.

Withdrawal and Visions: As death approaches, the individual tends to become socially withdrawn and unresponsive while preparing to detach from the body and bodily relationships.

Nevertheless, the sense of hearing is usually the last to go. Thus, you can comfort your loved one by speaking softly, in a gentle tone and helping him or her let go.

While preparing for the transition from this life to the next dimension of life, the person may even converse with other deceased family members that other cannot perceive. In fact, there may be near death awareness months prior to death.

Confusion and restlessness: The person may become disoriented and confused about the date, time, location, and people around him/her.

In addition, there may be hallucinations and the individual may hear voices or see things that are not present. Furthermore, the person may become restless and perform repeated actions.

Excessive sleep: Due to factors like loss of appetite and slow metabolism, the person may begin to sleep for a long time and may become difficult to arouse.

It is best to let him or her rest and sleep; if you need to wake him or her up for medication, etc. then do it forcefully.

Decreased intake of foods and fluids: When the body approached death, it becomes difficult for the individual to swallow and digest. Thus, it is suggested not to force-feed the individual.

Moreover, keep a moistened warm cloth nearby to clean saliva around the person’s mouth as he or she may be unable to swallow the saliva. You can also keep glycerin swabs to keep the mouth and lips moistened.

Incontinence: There may be issues like severe weakness, lethargy, incontinence (the concentrated urine is likely to be scanty and brownish, or tea colored), and loss of control over bowel matter as the muscles begin to relax.

Chaotic breathing pattern: When nearing death (usually the last two to three days), chest congestion and accumulation of saliva in the throat give rise to a gurgling sound when the person breathes.

This sound, however, may also be produced due to problems causing interference in the swallowing reflex as a result of brain injury.

Furthermore, at times, the person may breathe rapidly and at times, the breathing may stop for a few seconds, even up to thirty to forty five seconds. The long gaps between breaths are referred to as apnea or Cheyne-Stokes breathing.

You can find information on Cheyne-Stokes breathing and a table showing the symptom frequency of actively dying cancer patients on this page. In addition, you can read about death rattle in this article.

Besides, there are other physical changes that can be observed a few days or even hours before dying. These are:

  • fluctuating body temperature and fever (do not use electric blankets)
  • irregular pulse
  • increased perspiration (with clamminess)
  • low blood pressure
  • decreased speaking
  • mottled skin, pale and bluish hands, feet, lips, and nail beds
  • tearing in eyes; moreover, the person may have open or half-open eyes but not seeing.

The skin color, too, may change and the extremities may increasing become cold to touch because of decreased circulation.

That an individual would show all these signs is not necessary. Still, most persons close to death do experience some of these symptoms.

Hospice care professionals can be of great help for the suffering individual as well as his family members who also need emotional and spiritual support during this time.

Visit to get a better understanding regarding hospice care. Here is a list of physiologic changes and symptoms that are observed prior to death. Moreover, you can find a list of top ten occurrences before and after death at Listverse.