What to expect and how to cope

Although death is inevitable, most people avoid acknowledging and discussing end-of-life patient care, either themselves or their loved ones. While studying a topic can be uncomfortable, it can also reinforce and reduce the insecurity and fear that often come along with the process.

This, of course, is especially important if the end of life is known to be approaching. While everyone experiences death differently, there are some common characteristics that are worth knowing about. There are also practical considerations to consider, as well as emotional considerations for those left behind.

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The end of life is near

Many factors will influence everyone's experience of dying. Some factors that influence the process of completing the life cycle include:

  • Have an illness, illness, or other health problem.
  • The type of care you receive
  • Medications and / or treatments that prolong life.
  • Participation in palliative care and / or hospice
  • The cause of death itself
  • Psychological accumulation and coping mechanisms with a specific patient.

For some people, the dying process can take several weeks, several months, or even longer. For others, the transition from apparent good health to death can happen quickly, in days or even hours.

Remember, the end-of-life process is unscheduled and does not provide specific cues that accurately indicate how long a loved one will live.

However, while there is no universal experience of dying that is common to all, many people still show some similarities as death approaches. Below are just a few of them.

Interact with others

Often times, a person may begin to withdraw from family members, friends, and other loved ones, or show little or no interest in social interactions, hobbies, and / or exercise that they once enjoyed. Others are still able to communicate and receive visitors, but they rarely show anger or make interaction or assistance difficult.

People who are dying often reflect on their lives and may try to resolve relationship problems or regret. Working on the five goals of death can help people say goodbye to loved ones, find a sense of isolation, and find a sense of peace as death approaches.

Psychological changes

Occasionally, a dying person may experience changes in sensory perception that lead to delusions or hallucinations. The patient may manifest this, for example, in the following ways:

  • Hearing or seeing things that do not exist, generating fears of hidden enemies.
  • Reaching out to people who are not in the room (or who have already died)
  • Not following a thread of thought or conversation without being distracted, which is called inattention.
  • He looks anxious and chooses his clothes or sheets.
  • Make random gestures or movements that seem insignificant to outsiders.


Some dying people may experience a phenomenon known as close to the awareness of death : the recognition that something is happening to them, even if he or she cannot express it properly.

Caregivers sometimes believe that the patient is delusional or incurable anxiety , the dying patient may speak or act as if they need to prepare for the journey or share their vision. about seeing a deceased loved one or a beautiful place.

Practical considerations

While this is a natural process, there are some challenges that might need to be addressed and everyday life issues that arise on their own.

Paperwork and planning

At the end of the life cycle, people often put their affairs in order if they haven't already (or a trusted person can help with this). For example, these steps may involve very practical questions such as:

However, it is not uncommon for some people to avoid these things altogether, despite their usefulness.


When it comes to spending time with other people, some dying want to see friends and acquaintances, while others don't. This preference can even change from day to day. If you are acting as that person's guardian, always ask permission before admitting visitors so that you can respect the wishes of the loved one to the best of your ability.

Everyday life

When someone you love dies, it is natural to postpone your normal life. You may want to spend as much time with them as possible and find it difficult to think of anything other than helping them get through this moment. You may also feel "on high alert" when you are apart, waiting for news that you are afraid of. These are all normal and natural parts of your feelings.

Explain as best you can to your family, friends, and co-workers what you are experiencing. Make sure they know that you may find it difficult to handle additional loads, voltages, or requirements at this time. Also, be honest about when you might need help.

Would you help your children take care of the household chores? Can a friend make dinner for your family? People often offer help but don't know what you need. This is your chance to let them know.

When death is near

As death approaches, dying people often lose their appetite, even for their favorite food or drink, and lose weight. While this can cause anxiety for the patient's loved ones, it is a completely natural part of their life path, because the human body requires less energy. In fact, the chemical composition of the human body can change at this point, causing a mild sense of euphoria in the dying person.

In addition to not eating or drinking , the dying person tends to speak little, if any, and may not respond to questions or conversations from others. They can also sleep a lot and physical activity will be limited, if not completely absent.

Physical signs

Towards the end of the dying process, some or all of the following symptoms usually appear on the body:

  • Decrease in body temperature by one or more degrees.
  • Gradual decrease in blood pressure.
  • An irregular heartbeat that can be faster or slower.
  • Increased sweating
  • Decreased circulation that affects skin color and is often most noticeable around the lips and nail beds as they turn pale, bluish, or grayish.
  • Breathing that becomes more irregular, often slower, and may include Cheyne-Stokes breathing (rapid breathing followed by periods of no breathing)
  • Throat and airway congestion, which can lead to noisy, wet breathing or so-called deadly rales .

When a person's body begins to fade, their arms and legs can become red and covered in spots. An uneven skin tone can also slowly spread to the arms and legs. A person's eyes may remain open or ajar, but he or she does not see his or her surroundings and is usually unresponsive.

Experts often think that hearing is the last feeling to go away before death. If you want, your loved ones can sit down and talk to the dying person at this time.

Death comes one day

Eventually, the patient will stop breathing completely and their heart will stop beating. Death has come. At this point, the human body immediately begins a series of physical processes . This includes:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Relaxation of muscles and eyelids.
  • Increasing paleness to normal skin color as blood flows through the smaller veins in the skin.
  • If the body remains at rest long enough (several hours), blood will pool in the areas of the body closest to the ground, and eventually chemical changes in the body's cells will cause rigor mortis, a temporary strengthening of the muscles.

To do

  • If the person died at home, contact your local police station or call 911.
  • If you received hospice services at home, call your hospice agency.
  • If the death occurs in a care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, the staff will carry out the necessary procedures.

Next steps

When a loved one dies , survivors may need or want to complete many tasks at once , as well as several responsibilities that will need to be completed in the days and weeks after death .

Unfortunately, most people avoid talking about death during their lifetime and therefore never discuss their last wishes with a loved one, relative, or friend. Because of this, you may have to do everything yourself.

Final decision

The first decision you need to make (unless you have a directive left) is to choose what you want to do with your loved one's body, which is called the final positioning form. You have several options:

If the deceased chose to donate his body (for example, for medical research), he had to accept it before death occurred.

Funeral and memorial services

Close relatives or members of the immediate family of the deceased usually plan a funeral or memorial service . If your loved one has planned or agreed to yours in advance, you should contact the selected provider to discuss the details and finalize the arrangements.

Some families during a funeral conference will partner with a professional service provider, such as a funeral director or funeral director, to create a meaningful and appropriate service that enables loved ones to honor and honor the deceased while comforting and supporting each other. mutually. When organizing a service, you will be asked to provide the information necessary to write the obituary , and you can also choose to write and deliver the eulogy during a funeral or memorial service.

Other families refuse these services for various reasons. In these cases, they can opt for direct or immediate burial or direct cremation . Then they might consider starting a personal file in honor of the person.

As a consumer, you should read and understand the FTC Funeral Rule, which protects your rights when purchasing goods or services from certain providers (especially funeral homes).

Pain and loss

Grief is a powerful, multifaceted, and often uncontrollable reaction that people experience after a personally painful or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one. While grief is a perfectly normal and necessary response to loss, each person will grieve in their own unique style and in their own time.

Despite the deeply personal nature of grief, most mourners still tend to display some of the following characteristics during the days, weeks, and months after the death of a loved one:

  • Tears, tears, or sobs.
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, sleeping too much or too little.
  • Total loss of energy
  • Feeling lethargic or listless about daily activities or life in general
  • Changes in appetite, such as not feeling hungry or overeating (especially unhealthy foods)
  • Abandon normal social interactions and relationships.
  • Difficulty concentrating or concentrating on tasks, whether at work, personal life, or hobbies.
  • Questioning spiritual or religious beliefs, job / career choices, or life goals.
  • Feelings of anger, guilt, loneliness, depression, emptiness, or sadness.

The sadness and pain of grief can have real physical effects on your body, such as digestive problems, pain and discomfort, and weight gain or loss. It may even be difficult for you to return to work or the office during grief. Since you may have trouble thinking clearly right now, there are several life decisions that you should delay making for a while if possible.

Some people prefer to grieve alone and do not want or need outside help. Others may seek and find comfort by sharing the grief, anger, depression, and other emotions they experience after the loss by joining a grief support group or by speaking with a therapist.

Remember that if your loved one dies in hospice care, you can get free counseling for one year through a hospice agency.

Not predictable stages of grief. Instead, your reaction to the death of a loved one is deeply personal. You must find ways to do this work for you .

Get the word of drug information

If you want to provide support and comfort to a grieving family member or friend , there are many practical ways to help them cope with their loss. While it can generally be difficult to find the right words to comfort the bereaved , you can offer meaningful and inspiring expressions of empathy. But perhaps the most valuable gift you can offer a grieving person is your calm physical presence and your unwavering and impartial support.

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