The Death Process

This is a process writing where I describe the death process. Many people are not aware of the steps the body takes when ending life. I feel people should be aware of this transition.

In June of 2002, I watched my mother die. She was a victim of cancer and was under hospice care. It was an experience I will never forget. At the time, it was hard to understand what her body was going through, but I learned a lot during this process. I feel everyone should know about this in order to prepare for the time they may experience this for themselves. This is a natural process for the human body. Just like everything else in nature, the body has its own way to prepare for the end of life. What I will be discussing is the physical shut down of the body.

At the beginning of the end, there may be a sudden decline in health. This may be a result of some type of failure in the body. From this point, you may notice that the person has fewer interests in things they once loved and enjoyed. They may have more interests in getting their affairs in order or talking about their spiritual beliefs. The person may sleep more than usual. There may be times they seem very unresponsive but know that it is very important to communicate with them and touch them. Even though they may be unresponsive, they can hear you and feel you.

As the body shuts down, the body will have less of an appetite. Food, at this point, is less important. Don’t force them to eat; this is not what they want. Instead, offer something cold to drink or crushed ice. Generally, they will be very weak. Don’t be alarmed by this, you have to understand that if the body is not getting fuel then it operates less. This is part of the natural process. Toward the end of death, you may notice the person has a spurt of energy. That is normal but it often does not last long.

You will notice many changes in the skin during this process. It can be cold and clammy. At times the skin may turn blue or blotchy in color. During the last few days, the body’s pulse and blood pressure can make drastic changes. This may lead the person to be overcome by emotion by being very sad or possibly angry. Don’t take any of this personal. Just continue to be there for your loved one.

Amongst the first things to cease in the body is digestion and elimination. There may be a time where they eliminate more than usual then it will stop all together. As systems in the body begin to shut down, the person may have episodes of shakiness. Again, this is normal and you can help by holding your loved one close. Another thing to be aware of are the changes with the eyes. There may be times when the person appears to be staring off into space and their eyes may be glassy. At this point they may be experiencing hallucinations. If you notice the eyes to be glassy and fixed, normally death will occur in a few hours.

Please know this, among the last functions to cease in the body are the ability to feel and hear. No matter what other steps the body is going through to end life, you can still talk to your loved one and hold your loved one. They can hear and feel you, even if they don’t respond. The last process to cease is breathing. In the last stages of life, breathing will be far apart and more labored. You may even hear what is called “the death rattle”. As the body is able to deliver less oxygen to the body, organs will become further weaken and will stop functioning. This process will continue until the final breath is taken.

It was hard for me to watch my mother go through this process towards the end of her life. I remember the day she stopped swallowing and how alarmed I was. I had no idea that the body had steps it took to shut down the ability to live. When the hospice nurse arrived, she explained to me and my sisters what was happening and gave us a pamphlet about the dying process. This is a difficult thing to discuss, but you have to be mentally prepared yourself so that you can be there for your loved one.

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36 Responses to “The Death Process”
  1. Sherri Says...

    On August 14, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I just experienced the same process when my Dad died from Cancer on August 4th. Everything you mention happened except there was one additional thing which startled me completely. As Dad was taking his last breaths he jolted straight. Then he relaxed and passed quietly. I have not been able to find anything that explains the jolt.

    Thanks for writing what you did.


  2. Kelly McMullen Strickland Says...

    On November 17, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I learned about this process prior to my mother’s passing from inflammatory breast cancer. It was integral to my being able to be present during her passing. I am interested in the availability of this info in Spanish. Any connections and/or resources in Spanish would be greatly appreciated.

    Kelly,
    Early Intervention Teacher
    Monterey, California


  3. Leslie Intriago Says...

    On November 26, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I experienced something very similar when my mom died at hospice. That death rattle was so incredibly disturbing. I heard it all night as I sat over her. I had to stifle a scream a few times, it was so painful to watch. She had a seriously high fever all night in spite of all the meds she was on. Her eyes were shut most of the night but in the morning about 5:45, she opened one eye. The other one was completely shut. My mom was legally blind and her left eye was the worse of the two so I wonder if that explains why the left eye was closed. I sensed that she was about to go. It’s hard to explain but I just knew, so I reached out and held her hand and stroked her hair and said a few words that needed to be said before she could let go…and she did.

    That is a moment that I will always remember.

    The nurse later told me that my mom’s spirit is in the room still.

    I wonder where she is now. If she is near. I hope so. I miss her.


  4. Anonymous Says...

    On January 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I am going through my dad’s process as I write this. He is dying of cancer and it hurts to see him going through so much pain. Hospice has helped and they gave us a booklet on the process of death, which has greatly helped explain what my dad is going through, especially the not eating part. I only want him to stop hurting and hope some day to see him again. I only pray to God that I am there when he finally leaves us, I wish I had more time with him, but I understand that he needs to go, I have to let him go.

    Thanks for writing it helps to know you are not alone.


  5. Anita Says...

    On January 11, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    my mother-in-law is going through this process right now. Can anyone tell me how long the process is?


  6. odessa Says...

    On February 1, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Now I feel awful being so out of control my father past. I was there with him 2 the end and my father was the only real death experience I’ve had . Knowing that he might have seen me behave like that would have hurt him even more!I should have done some research just so I would have known what I was about to face.


  7. noneofthedeathsiveseenhavebeendegenerativebutsorryeveryonexoxo Says...

    On March 11, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Anita, if that’s a joke you.are.terrible


  8. For Anita Says...

    On March 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    The process can be anywhere from one to two weeks. Hospice uses the term “actively dying” to describe the death process.


  9. Cass Says...

    On March 20, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Thank you very much for writing this. My family and I are currently going through this process with my grandmother and reading this helps so much. Were not entirely sure where we are on the process but this helps. Thanks


  10. Rosie Says...

    On March 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Cass, there really isn’t a way to know where your grandmother is in the process because the process can vary so much. When my father died it happened relatively quickly. His hospice nurse was surprised. My dad had become ready a few days before, and I think that made a difference. My aunt died last week and it was a slower process for her. She had wanted to stick around for awhile.

    I think it’s very important to give a loved one permission to leave. I’ve been with three people as they left this life and in each case the process seemed to accelerate for them when they were given permission to leave and the goodbyes were said. In each case they *seemed* unresponsive, but I’m sure they could hear me. In my husband’s case he was in a drug-induced coma for eight days. I had been talking the entire time, telling him to fight – that he could pull through. Finally in the wee hours of the night I asked one of his nurses what was going on. She explained the entire physiological process to me and assured me that he was indeed dying. I went to the hospital chapel and cried for a little while and then in the morning I went in and told my husband that it was okay to go – that the kids and I would be okay. Almost immediately his vitals started changing and he died in the afternoon. I realized later that I had been prolonging his suffering by asking him to fight.

    My dad reached his own awareness, but I told him that he’d be with mom and that God would take care of him.

    With my aunt it was the hospice nurse who initiated the permission to leave. She told her that she’d be with the angels. After she left I talked to her about possibilites of what she’d be going toward. She died within an hour.

    It’s difficult for those of us who are going to be left behind to let go, but I truly believe that one of the best gifts we can give our loved ones as they’re making the transition is the permission to make that transition.


  11. Collin Says...

    On April 16, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I’m going through this right now with my father. He’s only 58 years old but has been fighting cancer for 10 years now. I’m only 23 and my brother is 25. This is absolutely the hardest thing I will ever have to endure. He has been in his dieing stage for well over a year now and is finally coming to the end. He is heavily medicated and sleeps all day now. He’s stopped eating and barely drinks. I wish i had been better educated on the process of death. This is all very new to me and hard to understand. I’ve read a lot of people giving their loved ones “permission” to die or leave and completely understand the need for such a thing, but I have no clue how to do this for my father. I’m still very young and telling my dad that its OK to leave means I really am loosing him. I know that’s completely selfish but I don’t feel like I have had the time with my dad that I really needed.

    Thank you everyone for your comments and posts. It really does help to know that I am not alone although sometimes it’s very hard to see.


  12. Lavarr Says...

    On April 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    My father is in his bedroom at this very moment actively dying from Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed in 2004 and now, 5 years later he is in his final days. Over the past 5 years, I have experienced everything from him wandering all day and night, lost in the city, to him fighting me to get out of the house. It’s been exactly a week now since he last ate anything. This past month he stopped eating food because he forgot how to hold the fork and couldn’t locate his mouth when he tried to eat. I had to begin feeding him myself but he wasn’t comfortable with me putting food into his mouth so I brought a blender and liquified foods and gave it to him with a straw. For the past two weeks I gave him ensure through a straw-usually 1-3 bottles each day depending on if he would eat/drink. Last week, I woke up to find him gasping for air and he seemed in intense pain. After I calmed his breathing with some meds(put into his yogurt) left by the hospice nurse and also gave him oxygen. It has now been one whole week and he hasn’t eaten or drank one thing since. This past week his heart rate increased, his fingers turned blue due to lack of oxygen, he stopped responding and stopped turning his head, began to stare at the wall or ceiling and his breathing is irregular. His ear began to decay because he laid on that side for too many hours and it looks really sore. Tomorrow will make one week and one day now. His room smells really really bad althought he is cleaned regularly. One thing I wish I would have done was to be more proactive when he was in the hospital and not let the doctors tell me how long he should stay in there and agree to all of their recommendations. He got a bed sore and mercer while in the hospital to make matters worse. I feel like I would have given him the care he needed more that rotating nurses and doctors who treat all patients the same, when they are all different. Now, his legs seem to have bloodclots and he lays in bed with one eye open, breathing heavy, and his mouth open. I keep checking his room all throughout the day and night to see if he is still breathing and I hate that I have to keep looking, anticipating death. It’s the worse thing I ever had to experience in my life. I feel like I am waiting for the worse thing in this world to happen. And it will. At any minute.


  13. Lisa Says...

    On April 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    My heart goes out to each and every one of you going through this process, as it is grueling. The funny thing is, we are all terminally ill (yet only a few of us are lucky enough to know it), which makes death a natural part of life. However, no where along the way are we taught how to lose someone and what the death process is like, (this by the way is a great description, thank you!). Then once it’s over our culture expects you to get over it in a mere few days, then it’s back to work and life… but you never do, get over it that is… instead you get through it, and you will. Be kind to yourself and may you deal with your process in your way, don’t let anyone tell you what’s right and what’s wrong because there is no such thing. I wish for you and your dear loved ones all of the love, courage and strength you need. Blessings & Peace!


  14. Dee Says...

    On May 27, 2009 at 8:21 am

    My mother is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s; my dad 94 and recently had a heart attack and has congestive heart failure. While at their house this past week, I found a journal my mother wrote in 1966, written a short while after my brother died of cancer. I was 13 yrs old at the time and much I never knew…. until now. She described the diagnosis, the 3 years of ordeal in and out of hospitals, and then, finally, described his death. I was so shaken when reading this and I’m having some difficulty getting my emotions to come back to 2009….. I “happened” to be at a friend’s house the night my brother died, so was not there to witness anything about which she wrote. All I can say is Thank God for hospice, which was not available in 1966. My parents had to deal with this alone, not understanding anything and having no one help them to understand what was happening and what to do to best cope and to best help my brother go through the process of dying. My mother’s words painted a horrific image. I pray for all those here experiencing this and am grateful that hospice exists. It must help, even though no one can take away the pain of dying or of watching a loved one die. May the Lord bless you allwith a peace and strength that passes human understanding.


  15. Latvian Christian Says...

    On June 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    I have a friend whose husband has at the most a couple of weeks left. I wish I knew how I could help her. She does not deal with death well. She is a Christian and a Minister. I think it would be better to give him permission to go. He has cancer in both hips, diabetes, has had numerous strokes, and has vascular dementia. None of us are afraid of death, we know where we are going. It is just the watching and waiting. My only fear is the feeling of suffocation when it becomes harder to breathe. Is it possible to tell if a person feels distress when this occurs? Or are they too unaware to know?

    A doctor’s advice or a care giver’s would be much appreciated.


  16. annon Says...

    On June 20, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I just experienced this process about 2 days ago with a 27 month old baby that was fighting Brain Cancer for almost 9 months. I was there on Sunday when Hospice said she would only live for a few more hours. She was alert and functioning but she did urinate a lot, had a hard time breathing and swallowing. Her heart rate would go from 170 to almost 210. She would respond to her parents and to needs like hungry or bottle. She continued to hold on for 4 more days. She passed away at 9pm on 9/18/2009. During that time she was sleeping and was unresponsive to anyone. She was pretty active that day and then her breathing became distant then stopped. Her color was very blue then turned to a milky white color within about 1 hour. The parents finally got the courage to dressed her (So Cute.) and held her for about 3 hours. She then lost her bodily fluid and urinated all over herself even through a diaper. Her parents cleaned her up and held her until the funeral director came and the father carried her out upon his request and they said their good byes to their baby. They had requested that the baby live her last days at home and not in the hospital and the night it happned to be as quiet as possible to not develop a scene with an ambulance or herse. It was one of the worst things in my life to witness and I hope no one has to go throught that ever. No one ever understands the death process until you actually see it live. Its very upsetting. Being that it was a baby it was a little worse for me I think.


  17. cawergin Says...

    On July 12, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I just went through the process with my mom the last couple of weeks. She passed today @ 12:08 pm. She too was diagnosed with cancer (Stomach cancer) in December of 2008. Up until this morning, she had been fairly responsive and said she was in no pain. The one thing I know is that the cancer was not what took her, she basically starved to death. Even though she had her stomach removed she had a pouch created but she still never really ate anything after that. This morning when my sisters checked in on her, she asked if it was ok for her to go…they told her yes and called me. When I got there, she was cold and alittle blue but still alive. In the 11/2 hours that I was there she had the glassy look in her eyes, was unresponsive and she never blinked once. We continued to talk to her, hold her hands and stroke her head. Her breathing became shallower and then finally her last breath came.
    I had been with my adoptive mom when she passed and also my husbands grandmother. Both were basically the same steps and very emotional. But this was the hardest, as this was my natural mother and I only had 4 months with her. Being in the medical field, I understand death and the process but it doesn’t make it any easier. God bless


  18. Vicky Says...

    On September 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    My partner went through this process in a local hospice a month ago. One thing that may be a surprise to some of you is that he didn’t show any of the “actively dying” signs until the very day he passed. He was chatting on the phone in the morning, and when i got to him he was weak but ‘bright’. He had a lack of appetite anyway because he was dying of bowel cancer. However, he was still drinking. The first alarm bell rang for me when his catheter had passed no urine & the remnants of what had been previously drained were very dark.

    Come noon, he had shown a real decline, & had gone from intermittent sleeping & periods awake; to staring glassy-eyed into space. I spoke to the doctor who thought he may have “a few days” left. By 4pm that day he had slipped away. I knew the end was coming when his breathing changed from normal to short, & fast-paced breaths. (The same thing happened to my Nan just over a year before).

    After about an hour his breathing changed again. His breaths were becoming further spaced apart, & very shallow. He was still staring, & gradually his breathing stopped. The nurse was with us & she had been feeling for a pulse, which had ceased before the breathing did.

    There was no death rattle, no gasping, no jolting, no struggle. Just silence. There was a slight contraction of his body- as when you hold your breath for too long & you feel that discomfort that you need to breathe… then that was it.

    Distraught as I was to lose him, & as much as i miss him; he had a peaceful death. It was pain-free, albeit thanks to morphine- (however, he wasn’t ‘doped up’ as he was still only on a low dose). & although we knew the time wouldn’t be far off, even the doctors thought his passing was sudden. By the time they had asked us if there was anyone we wanted to call, it was too late.

    The nurse told us to keep holding his hands & talk to him (which was very difficult to do over the tears) as he could still hear. According to the staff the hearing is the very last sense to cease, & so we tried our best to keep talking until the nurse finally told us he’d gone.

    I hope this is useful to anyone else who is going through the same ordeal. My sympathy & best wishes go to you, & I’m sorry you’re having to read these articles, but they have helped me with what to expect in the past.


  19. Love Dove Says...

    On November 28, 2009 at 1:52 am

    I have experienced a unique situation recently. It is unique because my experience was with my ex-husband who passed away August 26,09 from melanoma cancer. He was diagnosed in March 2009. We have been divorced 17 years and although he was angry over our divorce all these years, we still remained in contact because of our children. We were married 23 years. Because he never remarried and our children were unable to step up and help him, I became his care giver and only real support through his almost 6 months battle. We made peace over some things in our marriage and reconnected to some extent. He tried very hard to not let me see his pain and succeeded to the most part, but I knew he had to be hurting a lot. July 7th his oncologist told him the treatments weren\\\’t working and he made the decision not to do anymore treatments. He then withdrew into himself and wouldn\\\’t take phone calls except from me. He barely ate anymore so I gave him Ensure. Most of the time he would be asleep, sort of here but not here. It was very hard to watch the steady and rapid decline. By Aug.14th he was so weak that Hospice arranged to place him in a home, where he spent the last 12 days of his life. He was only 63 and I know he felt totally out of place there. I played soft music and talked to him, even though he didn\\\’t talk anymore. For several days his eyes stayed open , then became glassy. He appeared to see nothing till one day his eyes were following something near the ceiling, then he kind of smiled. It was a couple of days later that I told him that it was ok to go if it was time, and I emphasized that me and our kids would be ok and that we loved him. About 1 1/2 hours later I watched him take his last breath and his eyes looked at peace. It was very hard to watch him decline and know he was in such pain, but I am so thankful I was able to be there for him. I read a pamplet from Hospice that prepared me about the dying process and it helped, even though he didn\\\’t show many of the possible signs that death was near. I had asked him if he wanted to be alone when he passed or if he wanted me to be with him. He wanted me to be with him. I am so sorry for all of you who have or are experiencing this. I do believe that his spirit lives on and that we will meet again. God bless you all.


  20. chaitu Says...

    On February 17, 2010 at 5:31 am

    what about sudden deaths??????


  21. Eileen Says...

    On April 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Hello everyone,

    Im 28 yrs old and my grandfather is now in the transition of passing. I’m extremley close to him and having a very hard time accepting that i now am on a time limit w him. I read many of the comments on here and have already experienced some of the signs of transitioning. One day he was really bad and the hospice Dr said ” he would not last much longer”, what does that mean exactly, i mean are we talking hours, days, weeks? the following day, he was up in bed, eating, utilizing the bathroom, talking.. Its soo hard, its not consistant. I hate not knowing when the last time ill be able to say I love u to him will be. any advise?


  22. Kate Says...

    On November 2, 2010 at 11:37 am

    My Mimi (Grandma) has put on a very hard fight for the last 10 years almost now. She has a neurological problem which has left her a complete invalid. She get’s UTI’s regularly and was taken from her nursing home two weeks ago today to the hospital with another UTI that had spread to her Blood Stream this time and had a fever. In weeks prior to this hospital visit, she began having problems eating and would choke occasionally. She was on a mechanical at the nursing home. On October 23rd, my Grandpa decided to have a feeding tube put into her via her nose with hope she would get strong enough to be able to swallow again. She has continued to get worse. This past Friday, the hospital said there was nothing else they could do. She was sent back to the nursing home. On Sunday morning, we got a call very early that she had been put onto Oxygen. When we first got there, her entire body was shaking (spasms I think) and it was very upsetting. Throughout the day on Sunday, her eyes would be open, but very glassy. I have been reading a lot online, probably too much actually. I had read about the “death rattle” last week and when I went to see my Mimi last night, was terrified at first from a sound I heard from her. It really sounded like a rattle. I know that this is the “death rattle” I had read about. My poor Grandpa still thinks she is going to improve. They have been married 64 years and doesn’t want to let her go. My mom, brother, and I all know that the end is very near. I feel like she has all the symptoms that she only has a few days left. The feeding tube has to be removed next Monday, 11/8. I feel like that is what is keeping her alive at this point. Between that and the oxygen, am I right to think the end is near? For her sake, I hope she doesn’t get worse. She is in some type of coma at this point and unresponsive.

    The last two days have just been awful. I was holding up well until Sunday when I saw her on the oxygen. Her breathing is very weird.

    I hate that nobody can say how long someone has left and I hate even more that I’m sitting here at work right now and not by her bedside.

    Am I right to think that she only has hours/days left?


  23. Jody Says...

    On November 9, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Eileen,

    My grandmother is the same. She is 81 and has had Alzheimer’s for many years. She recently suffered a stroke. After 3 days of not eating or drinking Hospice said it would only be a matter of days. Then she started coming around a bit and seemed to make small improvements for about a week. She has another down turn and then back up. It has been a roller coaster for a little over a month. No one seems to know what to tell us.


  24. jomo mitau Says...

    On November 17, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Thank you very much for sharing. We went thru this till our father died of heart failure. We were young and did not understand anything. We only saw things happening and the best we managed was to rush him to hosp whenever he felt unwell. He at times did talk to people who died many years ago and this was very confusing to us. One day an elderly man said that these were not good signs without explaining anything. Many thanks to you. Jomo


  25. Jennifer Says...

    On December 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I found this article so helpful. My grandfather is 91. He had a bad fall two months ago that broke his hip and put him in the hospital. He got a hip replacement. After 4 weeks in the hospital he got to come home december 6th. He\’s now been home for 4 weeks. He lives with my parents and I live next door to them. Hospice has been here since Monday, two days ago. I didn\’t realize that there was a process the body has to go thru. I\’m learning so much about this and its very hard to see my grandfather like this. This is such a rollercoaster. Each day brings different things. He will get bursts of energy for 20 minutes but hasn\’t the last few days. He hasn\’t ate anything in 2 days and tells us he loves us. My heart goes out to everyone who has been thru this or is going thru this. Its very emotional and hard to watch your loved ones go thru this. God has certainly blessed me by giving me such a wonderful grandfather. God bless <3


  26. Jen Says...

    On January 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    I just went through this process with my mother. She was 91 and stopped wanting to eat about a month ago so was a struggle to keep weight on her. One day she woke up and did not have the energy to walk any longer, so we transported her to the hospital who could find nothing wrong. She was then sent to rehab where she broke her hip. She had to undergo surgery and was too weak at her age and fell into a comatose type of state after that. She was transferred to palliative care at the hospital, which was wonderful. They kept her sedated, out of pain and comfortable. I was with her when she passed away. I kept talking to her until the end, and when I told her not to work so hard to stay alive, that she could go, she took one last breath, looked up at me and tried to talk. One tear fell down her eye onto the pillow. That was her last breath. No one believes me as they say she was in a coma, but I know what I saw. They did see the tear stain on her pillow but said it was just a natural outflow. But I know what I saw and I know she heard me and had one final lucid moment. I almost did not stay to the end as did not think it would be helpful, but I am so grateful that I did.


  27. Doreen Says...

    On February 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Hello everyone-I’ve had this experience twice in my life thus far. I watched my Grandmother die in 2007 of Intestinal Cancer and she was 88 at the time of her death. Point is, she actually was asleep when she died. She convulsed a little, made the death rattle and then let go with one last breath that took about a few seconds and then she was gone. Hospice told me it was just about over when the death rattle began and sat with me until it was over.

    My mother on the other hand, just passed on Nov 11, 2010 and she too died of cancer, but hers was in 2 places. In her breast and secondary liver. She was fast because she was diagnosed on Sep 21, 2010.She was a hospice patient too, but she was in a coma for a day before she passed. Aparently, the cancer traveled to her brain and her body could not take anymore. So, short breaths, death rattle and then one last exhale, then death.

    It’s different for everyone.She and my Grandmother, although mother and daughter, died very differently. So, it all depends.


  28. Kat Says...

    On April 13, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Hi everyone, my grandad passed away on the sat 19th march, he hadn’t been feeling very well for a few days he had bad breathing problems and went into hospital on the wednesday, I got a phone call off my stepdad but I thought everything was going to be fine. I was due to come back home on the friday( I live about 200 miles away now) anyway. I was told my grandad was being upbeat, and making jokes with the nurses being his usual cheeky self! But was talking to my stepdad about his will and who he wants his things to be left to(he knew he was going). He was fine until fri 18th when he took a turn for the worse, I wasn’t aware and arrived back home at 8 in the evening, I saw my mum and could tell something was wrong. We went strait to hospital , he was under heavy sedation and on oxygen, I couldn’t even go in the room at first. My whole family was there surrounding him. I sat right next to him, but I couldn’t talk or touch him I was a mess. His breathing was deep but laboured and his body was moving with each breath he took. The next day he looked more comfortable and his breathing wasn’t as noisy, I sat next to him and held his hand but I couldn’t talk I wanted to I just couldn’t. At the last moments I could sense his breathing had changed , it became slower and shallower, he happened so quick, we got the nurse and she turned the oxygen off and let us be with him for his last breath, he stopped breathing had one last gasp then went. It was the hardest thing ever, I was clinging on to him, and he went cold so quick I was trying to keep him warm and cover him up :( I just wish I could of talked to him and told him how amazing he was. I’m so sorry grandad please forgive me xxxxx


  29. Kat Says...

    On April 13, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Hi everyone, my grandad passed away on the sat 19th march, he hadn\’t been feeling very well for a few days he had bad breathing problems and went into hospital on the wednesday, I got a phone call off my stepdad but I thought everything was going to be fine. I was due to come back home on the friday( I live about 200 miles away now) anyway. I was told my grandad was being upbeat, and making jokes with the nurses being his usual cheeky self! But was talking to my stepdad about his will and who he wants his things to be left to(he knew he was going). He was fine until fri 18th when he took a turn for the worse, I wasn\’t aware and arrived back home at 8 in the evening, I saw my mum and could tell something was wrong. We went strait to hospital , he was under heavy sedation and on oxygen, I couldn\’t even go in the room at first. My whole family was there surrounding him. I sat right next to him, but I couldn\’t talk or touch him I was a mess. His breathing was deep but laboured and his body was moving with each breath he took. The next day he looked more comfortable and his breathing wasn\’t as noisy, I sat next to him and held his hand but I couldn\’t talk I wanted to I just couldn\’t. At the last moments I could sense his breathing had changed , it became slower and shallower, he happened so quick, we got the nurse and she turned the oxygen off and let us be with him for his last breath, he stopped breathing had one last gasp then went. It was the hardest thing ever, I was clinging on to him, and he went cold so quick I was trying to keep him warm and cover him up :( I just wish I could of talked to him and told him how amazing he was. I\’m so sorry grandad please forgive me xxxxx


  30. Elle Says...

    On May 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

    There are no words to express the loss of a loved one and seeing them pass from us leaves a big hole in our hearts. The loss is always great. My grandmother lived to the ripe age of 98 years old. After her son had passed before her, 4 months prior, I believe that this was the beginning of the end for her. My grandmother was a vibrant woman with energy to share right up until the mentioned last 4 months of her life. She still cooked and cleaned and walked and laughed right up until that time. In her last hours in the hospital there was 7 of us grandchildren around her. She was on a bipap (breathing machine) but the doctor’s told us that this was not going to keep her alive for very long. We made the decision to have it removed. The staff would make her comfortable. I went over to the doorway and held onto a chair as they removed the machine. Inside I knew that once it was removed, there was no turning back. I am reliving the moments as I speak. I ran to her beside and held her hand to my face. The 6 other grandchildren all around her, talking to her, touching her, hugging her. We wept uncontrollably at this point. Someone had prayed God, please bring us peace from all of this. It’s so hard….my grandmother shed a tear from her eye and she was gone. I can not explain to you what happened that day only that a great peace came down on the room, it seemed like a few seconds but what it left on our hearts will always be there for all of us. I still go and see her where she is at rest. I wanted to mention that one of my grandmother’s friends came in to the room after she had passed. She said to us that we were closer to heaven than we could ever be, because we were present when the angels came and got her. That explains the peace we felt afterwards, those few seconds. It was bitter sweet experience very sad and heart wrenching and at the same time peaceful.

    I am so sorry for all of you who have lost great people in your lives.


  31. Zoe Says...

    On August 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    My best friends nan is in the final stages of this process as i right this, she has cancer spead through the whole body. We have been at the hospital today and her breathing has become very shallow and has developed the so called “death rattle”. She is no longer responsive to any family around her and is almost constantly out of it with only a partial glaced stare for a few seconds the back to unconciousness. Reading these comments posted by people who have been through or are going through this now have helped both myself and more especially my friend, thank you to everyone who has tshared their own person and heart rendering stories of losing someone close. My friend has gone back to the hospital now to stay with her nan as we suspect it is only a matter of hours. My heart goes out to anyone going through this, it is the hardest thing anyone should have to go through. xxx


  32. Kristine Says...

    On October 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    My 81-year-old mom just died on September 2. About 3 weeks before that we were told she was in kidney failure and that to live she would need dialysis. My mom knew others that had gone through that and knew it was grueling. She made the very courageous decision to not have the dialysis. A very kind doctor sat with us and told us she would probably live a month, maybe two, and reassured us that we were making the right decision. All the other doctors wanted to talk about how to make her live even though the writing was on the wall. I asked to see a hospice consultant and we talked to her about the process. I knew it was important to my mom to go home and die in her own surroundings. Hospice ordered a hospital bed. That night I went home to her apartment and in the morning they brought the bed. It was so hideous I told them to take it back. It was too much, too soon and I knew my mom would hate it. She needed to be in her own bed. She came home and all the signs in the pamphlet came true for my mom. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is the “rally” stages. There were days where she seemed to improve, wanted to eat, maybe get out of bed. I would panic at those times. Were we making the right choice? Was there a chance? Should we take her to the hospital? The hospice nurses were there to say it was not a sign of life, but the natural process of dying. She wanted to eat less and less, then ceased to eat at all. We all had the good sense to know friends and loved ones should come sooner, rather than later, while she was lucid. My mom called it a living memorial. Friends brought flowers and good cheer, family came in and out. I remember a precious moment when my oldest daughter and I lay on either side of my mom on the bed and when she said she was afraid to die, we were there to hold her close and say she would never be gone in our minds, she would live on forever through all of us. I had a support system which was very important. A cousin came to stay one week, a special aunt on my dad’s side the other week. I swear otherwise I would have gone crazy in that apartment watching her die by myself. Hospice came a couple of times a week at first, then every few days, then every day and I began to realize that they were there more often because she was getting closer to death. She began sleeping more and more. We decided to get a hospital bed to make it easier for the aides and nurses to get around her bed because she needed to be changed. By then she was unresponsive so I know she didn’t even know she was in it. Then the death rattle came. It was like snoring at first but became louder and more labored over a couple of day. I have to say it was the most horrible sound I’ve ever heard. My mom’s body was fighting to breathe even though we kept telling her it was okay to go. We were told the rattle was because they lose the ability to swallow. There was some medication to dry up the secretions but it wasn’t working so we called Hospice. The nurse came right out and I noticed that she didn’t leave. I realized this was because this would be the night. We continued to touch her, talk to her, sing to her. My face was very close to hers and when it was apparent she could no longer breathe, something amazing happened. She very slowly, and I feel deliberately, opened her eyes wide. Just for a moment. Her eyes were like windows into her soul and I saw joy there, like she was experiencing something wonderful. Then her eyes rolled to one side, they closed, and she was gone. I’m sorry this is so long. I hope someone can relate to it, or it somehow gives someone hope.


  33. huangjun Says...

    On January 7, 2012 at 3:02 am

    I have experienced several relatives death,and all that i can do is just watch them die,knowing nothing about it。Maybe i should have cared about them more。


  34. Grant Says...

    On January 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    this is a quick message to those reading here who do not have a friend / relative going through the dying process right now.

    show your love now, while you can – it will be a lot easier than trying to catch up when time is fast running out.


  35. Kelly Says...

    On June 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    I came across this page while seeking out info. on my Dad’s current condition. I guess you can say, grasping at straws. He received a TBI last year and has been in a nursing home since, with no memory and no ability to walk or care for himself. His health as started to decline rapidly over the last few weeks and the home has suggested Comfort Care only at this point and feel the end is near. Thank you for writing this page and for the information on what to expect. I feel this may be sooner that we had anticipated. He is unresponsive to his surroundings. Stares blankly and does not eat. Only pockets the food that is offered to him in his cheeks. He will no longer swallow meds. He is saying goodbye without words.


  36. john Says...

    On August 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I have been with both my parents when they were dying and can say that it is important to speak, give reassurance that all is well and tell them not to worry,just have a good sleep.This helps them let go and helps our own selfish needs


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