In this blog we present to you a list of signs that could indicate that you or your loved one is dying or nearing the end of their life.
We will also discuss how you can prepare for the end, what you can do immediately after one dies, and how you can cope after the death of a loved one.
Am I dying? (Signs that you are nearing the end)
Here are some signs that could indicate that you are dying.
When the person is nearing the end, one might notice a decrease in appetite which could be because they need less energy because they are less active or vice versa.
If you notice that you or someone who is nearing the end due to terminal sickness or old age is refusing to eat and showing a sharp decrease in appetite, it could indicate that they are about to die.
Towards the last few months of a person’s end of life- say around 2 to 3 months. You will notice that they tend to sleep a lot more and spend most of their time sleeping.
This could be for a myriad of reasons from exhaustion, fatigue, lack of energy due to weakened appetuited, etc. They will often be observed to be resting or sleeping and are less likely to be active when they reach wakefulness again.
Becoming less social
You might notice that someone who is about to die will also be less social and often tend to be socially withdrawn.
This could be because they spend less time awake and more time sleeping or this could be because they have no energy to interact with other people.
Socialising can be difficult for them since they often are in and out of consciousness even when they are awake, thus social withdrawal can be a signal that they are nearing the end of life or expiration.
Changing vital signs
When the person is about to die, you will also notice changes in vital signs:
- blood pressure drops as observed
- breathing changes
- heartbeat becomes irregular as observed
- heartbeat may be hard to determine as observed
- urine may be brown, tan, or rust-coloured as observed dye to complications in the dying person’s kidney.
Changing toilet habits
Since a dying person is likely to eat less or drink less, their bowel habits will change significantly. You might find that the dying person is less likely to release solid waste and they also tend to urinate less than typical.
They might also be reliant on aids to help them maintain hygiene such as diapers or Urinary catheters because their urinary muscles can no longer work independently because of weakening of muscles.
Muscles can become weaker once the person is at the brink of expiration. This is why most people who are nearing their end are often frail and weak, are unable to do tasks they are normally able to do, and also have a hard time maintaining their physical health.
Due to weakening muscles they might have problems with their excretory systems, their heart condition etc.
Dropping body temperature
Because their heart begins to weaken, you might notice that there is little blood circulation which explains the dropping of the blood temperature of a person who is going through expiration.
So when you come across someone who is dying you might notice that their body temperature is cool or cold to the touch.
When a person is about to die, the brain is still stimulated- their bodily organs might be faltering however their brain is still functioning however, the person might expercie confusion about their surroundings and their condition.
When someone is dying, you might be able to notice that there is a lot of mental confusion so it is at this time that you talk to them to help them know about what’s happening around them and minimise confusion.
A person who is about to die might have some irregular breathing and this might cause you to worry when they are feeling like they are having trouble with breathing.
You will also notice that they might breathe irregularly when they are sleeping as well. What you can do is to have your doctor monitor and examine their breathing and breathing so that you can give them the care they need.
When people are nearing the end of their life due to an illness or an accident, they will experience intense pain. You will also notice that they will require medication and painkillers to help them deal or cope with the pain.
It is normal to notice that if you or someone you love is nearing the end of their life that they begin to experience hallucinations along with mental fog and confusion.
How to prepare for the end of life?
If you or someone you love is approaching the end of life, there are a few things that you can do to prepare for it. Some of them include:
- Spending time with the one who is dying- having communal time and family time with them
- Preparing a list of action steps to prepare for funeral, last rites, and burnila/cremation.
- Dealing with your emotions by seeking support from people you trust or from support groups.
- Sometimes you or the person dying might say things like they are bored or depressed, or are tired of being a burden or just ‘want it to end’. Comments like this can cause concern for others but are very common.
- Acknowledge their feelings and your own.
- Get them as comfortable as you can
- Talk to them about the positive aspects of their life
- Be around them, and give them space when they need
- Keep talking to a dying person right up until they pass away. They can often still hear what is going on around them
- They might also require Spiritual care at the end of life related to questions about life’s meaning, depending on the person’s values and beliefs or questions about their own mortality or what happens after death.
Seeking out spiritual guidance could also be another thing that is needed, so connect with a spiritual or religious leader.
What to do Immediately after a death?
Immediately after you lose someone or immediately after someone has passed, what you can do includes:
- Sit with your loved ones or the body of the person you lost and grieve.
- You might not want to be with other people, so here you can move to a separate space and take your own time to experience your feelings.
- If you feel nothing at all, remember that it is okay- shock and grief can manifest in different ways.
- An expected death is not an emergency and you may not need to call the police or ambulance however, you may need to inform other people in your life and make arrangements for a funeral and burials/cremation.
- At home there are things that you will need to organise. At times like this a written plan of action prepared in advance will help.
How to cope after a loved one has died?
Here are a few things that you can do to cope with the death of a loved one:
Allow yourself to be sad
When you miss someone, allow yourself to miss them, to grieve them, and to be sad. DOn’t question it, don’t stop yourself from it- instead allow yourself to feel everything and anything.
You might feel sadness and along with this anger of having been separated, despair that the thought that you might never see them again, and you might be so afraid of having to live life without her.
When you feel all of this, and more- allow it. The only way to heal as you grieve is through these feelings,
Don’t run away from these painful feelings- no matter how difficult. Instead, stay with your feelings and remember her for who she was and who she is to you.
If you have lost someone you love, take out old photographs, watch old videos, and relish in these memories, and let yourself be covered in them.
When people die, the only way they live on is through our memories. Remembering her will not take away the fact that they are gone, nor will it take away the pain but it will allow you to relive the time you had with them and that can be aless difficult way to grief.
Sink into the love of those present
If you find yourself missing them and it is becoming especially difficult, take advantage of the love that is given to you by those who are present.
Be it spending time with your father or spending time with your siblings and friends; give yourself the chance to relish in their love and to feel supported and loved.
Yes they will never replace the bond that you have had with the person you lost, they might never come close, but that does not mean that their love is not real.
Open your eyes and your heart to their support and their care, even if it is so difficult to do so right now.
You allowing yourself to find comfort in someone else does not mean that it will erase the love of your mother nor will it take away the pain of longing for her. But what it can do is to make the experience less painful.
Talk to a professional
If you miss someone, be it because of grief, seperation, or because of whatever reason that stops you from reaching out to them and it is causing you much distress, another option that you have is to talk to someone about it.
You can talk to your friends or other family members, however there comes a point where you find that none of it helps, and this is where a professional counsellor comes into the picture.
Counselling can help you go through your difficult feelings of loss and grief as well as help you manage to work out relationship issues with your mother if she is alive.
Speaking to a counsellor can help you manage your feelings of regret, anger, loss, and also help you move forward in life.
Accept the truth of healing
One of the major milestones that one can get through while healing after a loss, is to accept that the pain never completely goes away.
You might feel better after a few days or months or years of grieving and at times you might also be happy. However there will always be a hole in the shape of your mother in your soul and that is completely okay.
Healing is to go through the pain of the hurt you feel, it does not guarantee that you will be patched up and the pain will go away completely.
In this blog we presented to you a list of signs that could indicate that you or your loved one is dying or nearing the end of their life.
We also discussed how you can prepare for the end, what you can do immediately after one dies, and how you can cope after the death of a loved one.
What are the signs that someone is close to death? MedicalNewsToday. Retrieved on 18th March 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320794#after-death
At the end – dying explained. Better Health. Retrieved on 18th March 2022. betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/At-the-end-dying-explained