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Stages of the Dying Process and What to Expect

Updated on September 23, 2017
Sharyn's Slant profile image

I was with my grandmother in her final moments. I've also taken care of hospice patients as a home health aide.

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Are you afraid of witnessing a loved one pass away?

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Death is a Natural Part of Life

If a loved one dies quickly and unexpectedly, such as in a car accident, we do not have the opportunity to witness the end-of-life process.

On the other hand, when a loved one is slowly dying from an illness or simply as a result of aging, we may have the opportunity to observe the unique process one goes through when it is time to leave this earth. Either way, death is difficult to accept—and yet it is a part of life that we cannot change.

Since we don't often have the opportunity to be present when a loved one dies, typically we do not know what to expect.

It is an extremely emotional experience that can be overwhelming for many. Having a better understanding of the stages of the dying process will hopefully help ease this experience for all involved.

This article is not at all meant to be dark or morbid. Death is a normal part of the life cycle and something everyone will go through.

Being aware of the stages one goes through at the end of life will give loved ones an opportunity to be less fearful. Knowing what to expect will allow you to be present in the moment with much compassion. You may even experience gratitude for opportunity to accompany your loved one through this unique process.

— Sharyn
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Have you ever been with someone as they died?

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What to Expect When a Loved One is Nearing the End of Life

Just like each individual’s path in life is unique, so is their path to death. The process of dying may unfold differently for each individual, yet there are physical signs and symptoms that are typically observed.

Understanding what a person and their body are going through when preparing for death will be helpful to those who wish to be close during this time. Recognizing the stages of the dying process will allow you to:

  • participate in the process
  • be able to appropriately comfort your loved one
  • be present in the moment
  • be able to continue taking care of yourself, as well

4-12 Weeks Prior to Death

Sign or Symptom
Explanation
Tired and sleeping more
Longer periods of sleep occur more often.
Withdrawal
Start to show lack of interest in the television, newspapers and everyday life. Begin separating from daily routines. Not interested in visiting with company or talking on the phone. Appears to be more content sitting quietly, thinking to self.
Communication
Less talking. Communicating less with speech and more with using touch and gestures may be noticeable.
Not as hungry
No appetite, eating less and less. Simply not hungry as the body needs less and less fuel to keep going. Food that is more difficult to chew and digest will be turned down first. Intake will continue to diminish until only liquids are desired.

1-4 Weeks Prior to Death

Sign or Symptom
Explanation
Restlessness
Increased agitation and restlessness, especially noticeable with arm movements.
Disorientation
Sleep even more now causing additional confusing when awake. Confusion regarding time, dates, people, places and events. Possibly talking out loud to someone who is not there. It is common for chatting to occur with a loved one who has already passed on.
Blood pressure
Blood pressure will begin to lower and pulse may begin to rise.
Body temperature
Body temperature will commonly fluctuate from cold to fever causing unusual perspiration.
Color of skin
Will change to a pale yellowish complexion and bluish over the rest of the body.
Breathing
Normal respirations of 16-20 breaths per minute may increase to 50 or decrease to as low as 6 breaths per minute. "Puffing” of the lips when exhaling may be noticeable. Breathing may stop briefly then restart again.
Lung congestion
A “rattling” sound may be present in the lungs and upper throat due to congestion. As congested breathing symptoms come and go, coughing may occur as well.

1-7 Days Prior to Death

Sign or Symptom
Explanation
Increased energy
A brief noticeable surge in energy may occur and is common. May show an increase in movement that requires use of excessive energy. May be strangely more alert and less disoriented then they have been in a long time. May talk more, ask questions, request something they would like or people whom they would like to see. May eat and drink more than they have in awhile.
Intensity of signs and symptoms from prior weeks
Changes that began to occur over the past month will intensify. Lack of oxygen in the blood will cause increased restlessness. Breathing is slower and more irregular and may stop for longer periods of time and then start again. Congestion can become very loud. Areas of the body such as toenails, fingernails, elbows, hands, knees, ankles, legs, back and buttocks become blotchy and more bluish or purple in color.
Appear to be in two worlds at once
Those at the end of life may seem to be in two worlds at once. They could talk directly to someone who is in the room with them and the next moment, appear to be speaking or paying attention to someone who is not there. They may use unusual gestures or speech that may not make sense to others.
Urine output
Urine output decreases and turns dark in color from natural dehydration.

Final Day and Hours Prior to Death

Sign or Symptom
Explanation
Hearing
Hearing is the last sense that remains. Talk to your loved one even though they are unable to respond back to you.
Eyes
Eyes may be tearing and have a glassy look. They may be partially open but unlikely able to see at this point.
Unable to be awakened
Becomes generally non responsive and is unable to be awakened.
Final breaths
Normal gasping for air, described as a “fish out of water,” will occur. Often these final breaths are followed by a few more breaths that are spaced far apart. Following the final breath, it is normal that the mouth remains open. The eyes may open as well.
Transition
The spirit has now left the physical body.

Things You Can Do to Comfort Your Loved One at the End of Life

As the body goes through the process of shutting down, understanding the signs and symptoms will help in coping with them. There are things you can do to make your loved one more comfortable, enhancing their quality of life in their final weeks.

  • First and foremost, ask for help if necessary. You do not have to do this alone. Talk with your medical provider to discuss what is needed.
  • If they are in pain, speak with your medical provider to determine what can be done to comfort your loved one.
  • Keep the temperature in their room comfortable. Use soft blankets to keep them warm.
  • Keep your loved one clean.
  • Sit with them often so they are not alone.
  • Speak clearly in a normal tone of voice. Always assume they can hear everything that is said.
  • If necessary, remind them who you are by identifying yourself so they are less confused.
  • Be patient.
  • Read to them.
  • Play soothing music for them.
  • Do not force them to eat or drink if they do not want it.
  • Use chips of ice if mouth is dry being sure they are still able to swallow.
  • Placing a cool, moist cloth on their forehead is comforting.
  • Reposition them often in bed to prevent bed sores.
  • Touch and hold their hand.
  • Give your loved one reassurance and permission to let go. Let them know that you will be okay. Say whatever words of love and support that comes from your heart.

Final Thoughts

This is a difficult process and one that most of us wish we did not have to go through. Even when a person is exhibiting many of the usual signs and symptoms of the dying process, no one can predict the exact timing. Therefore, it is important to make sure you take care of yourself. Make sure you eat appropriately and get adequate rest so you can be in the present with your loved one. Best wishes!

This is Sharyn's Slant

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    • profile image

      Bj 2 months ago

      My dad died of conjestivd heart faikure at home with his wife and my brother and I. My dad had started not talking to me when I called. When I arrived, he totally shut me out, would not let me bring him food or ice chips and it times yelling at me once saying you can me, but he continued to ask for his wife and my brother and my nephew. I am trying not to take this personal but since my dad and I were always close I'm very confused

    • profile image

      Dee Stonelake 7 months ago

      Even though my husband and I are Christians who know Christ as our Savior believing in eternal life with God it is still difficult facing the failing health of my husband of 60 years.

      For all of you who are facing the difficult days of knowing that soon your dear love one being gone, get Home Care for they not only help the patient but wonderful support for yourself. I found them to be the best and so much better than over other organizations.

    • profile image

      Mimi 8 months ago

      Going through this now. My girlfriend's dad has cancer and doesn't want to eat. When he drinks water, it comes back up and he can't sleep well. I'm taking care of him when no one else is around.

    • profile image

      Laurel 14 months ago

      I have just received my diagnosis, terminal brain cancer. The doctors can't give you aNY idea of how much time you have that, and I fully understand why they can't.

      I feel that I have tons of things to do so that my hubby will be able to manage. He has recently diagnosed with dementia and I was supposed to be his caregiver so I'm very worried about what's going to happen to him.

      Thank you so much for writing this I got a lot os sound information.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 24 months ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Scotty,

      I am so glad you found this article informative. It's very possible that your grandma wanted to be alone at that time. I believe it all works out how it is supposed to. Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback. Take care,

      Sharyn

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      Nikki 24 months ago from Worcester, MA

      This was a very informative hub, last year I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer's and it was a long, drawn out process over 4 years and I feel very lucky that the night before she died I was able to say bye to her even though she wasn't "there" . The next morning she passed before we were able to make it to the nursing home , we probably missed it by 10 minutes and I have guilt that she was by herself, I wasn't prepared to see her in the dead state for lack of better words , I know she was ready to go though and am happy it was peaceful.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Thank you so much Ajesh~I appreciate you stopping by!

    • Ajesh Siva profile image

      Ajesh Siva 2 years ago from Calicut, India

      i am a beginner and i like this article

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Stella,

      I am so glad you found this article helpful. Thank you so much for your feedback!

      Sharyn

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi, I found this hub to be true and helpful. Thanks Stella

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      D.A.M. So sorry I didn't respond again sooner. Thank you. I am so glad you are around again. Take care!

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 3 years ago from Indiana

      Sharon, thank you for the warm welcome back! I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Even though death is a normal part of life we're never quite ready when it comes for our own loved ones. So glad you are still writing!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hey DearAbbysMom!!!! It's SO wonderful to see you. I tried to contact you after you went "missing." I'm really glad to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear about your father's death. My dad just recently passed away also on January 17. It's a difficult time for sure. Thank you so much for your wonderful, kind feedback. Take care,

      Sharon

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 3 years ago from Indiana

      Sharyn, this hub certainly resonates with your readers, and how gracious of you to take the time to comfort all who have commented with their personal stories. I have been away from Hubpages for awhile in part due to my own father's death. All of us will be here with a loved one some point, so what a wonderful thing to write such a matter-of-fact, yet sensitive hub.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello Talfonso ~ Wow, you certainly have had some experience being with family members at their end of life. It can be quite difficult. For many years, I was really afraid of death. The thought of the unknown scared me quite a bit. But after going through the end of life process with several family members and others that were my "clients" in home health care, it has calmed me to some degree. I now feel blessed and cherish the time I was able to be close. I'm glad this article helped you and allowed you to feel calmer about the end of life process. Thanks for your feedback, take care!

      Sharyn

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      talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      I witnessed this three times in my life. I was in the house I used to live when my grandfather died. I was in the same house when my father died. Fast forward over a decade (it was earlier this month) and I saw my grandmother die while I was just changing her diaper. Thanks so much for the insight and the recommendations of the article. It really helped me feel less afraid of death.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello F.A. ~ Thank you so much for your kind feedback. It is a difficult subject to write about.

      Sharyn

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful article. You captured the process and well as good recommendations on how best to help the transition.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Thank you so much FF! I will check out your hub as soon as I get a chance. Take care!

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

      Sharyn, I linked your hub to my "Passings: Life Keeps Happening Anyway". Your information is perfectly fitted to what was needed. Thank you so very much!

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Annie ~ Thank you for the compliments and for the follow as well. Very much appreciated. Take care,

      Sharyn

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi frogyfish ~ WOW, thank you SO much for your awesome feedback on this article that is very close to my heart. It's a difficult subject yet one I felt needed to be shared. Compliments such as yours are extremely encouraging to me. Thank you also for linking this information. If you see my comment here, please let me know the hub title that you are linking to so that I may do the same with yours. I appreciate you stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      What a great hub ... so very useful. Thanks for writing about this topic.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

      On a rating of 0 - 10, this hub is a 10+.

      In our cultural denial of 'end of life' finality, this information could help defray much of the fear that underlies that death-denial mindset.

      Written with objective sensitivity and graciousness, your information timelines will help many who read: Comments here already proved that point.

      Thank you for sharing this vital hub. I am linking it to one of mine with a similar vein.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Vicki ~ I am so glad my interview with Maria led you here. I hope this article does help many who are in the position of being with a loved one while they are going through the dying process. The unknown can be scary. Thanks for your feedback, votes and follow too. I checked out your profile and really like the topics you write about. So you have a new follower as well . . .

      Sharyn

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      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Hello Sharyn, Maria's interview led me to you. I was so pleased to see this article. I think it must be helpful to many people who face this time in a loved one's life. Very valuable information, and so good that you wrote it. Voted up and useful

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello Levertis ~ well, thank you. I am so glad you appreciated this article. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      Levertis Steele 4 years ago

      How helpful, detailed, and thorough. Words escape me.

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Paradise7 ~ Yes, pain medication does help if needed. I remember with my Grandmother that she was so peaceful and not in any pain. She did not need any at all. It was just her time, her process. Thank you for your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Gail ~ Thank you so much for the compliments. I am thrilled that this article was chosen as an HOTD. A topic like this is difficult to write about yet my hope is that it will help many who find themselves in this situation. Thank you so much for your feedback and votes and especially the bouquet of Hub Hugs. I hope you are doing well.

      Sharyn

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      Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent advice. Thank you. With the right pain medicine, a person's passing doesn't have to be so physically harrowing as it once was.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Mar ~ Thank you. I know this is a difficult article. And I also know that being a care giver is difficult as well. I appreciate you stopping by. Hope you are doing well.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Msmillar ~ Thank you so much for the compliments. I'm sorry to hear you will be in this situation soon. I wish you the best. Thanks for your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Eddy ~ Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment. I hope things are well with you!

      Sharyn

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Diane ~ Yes, that extra surge that many experience is weird and hard to understand. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello CZ ~ Thank you so much for the compliment and I'm so glad you found this an interesting read. I appreciate you stopping by!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi WTaylor ~ You are welcome. I love how you described this article: preparing ones journey through a very dark passage by shedding light on the path. That is perfect! Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Debra ~ I love the thought of being "busy" on the other side. Comforting. I agree about the rattling in the lungs, it is a little scary to listen to but it is normal. Thank you so much for your feedback and for sharing this article. Very much appreciated!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi FreezeFrame ~ Wow, I feel like you are describing my grandmother. I remember specifically asking her if she was afraid to die and she said no, not at all. And I learned a lot from my gram too. She was always very appreciative for every moment here on earth. And she tried very hard to live stress free. She lived to be almost 103 years old. And she was the closest person to me (so far) that I was with her during her final months, days, weeks, hours and minutes. I truly believe and have voiced it to others too: that I am a better person for having witnessed the end of my grandma's life. She was such a beautiful person and taught me so much. Gosh, we have such similar stories. Thank you so much for sharing yours. Take care,

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Vicki ~ Thanks so much for the compliments. I appreciate you stopping by!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Barbara ~ Oh gosh, I sure hope the results are negative for you. I'm glad you found this article comforting. I will keep my fingers crossed and send you the best of wishes. Thanks you for stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Dear Sharyn,

      What a beautifully written and comprehensive hub. You gave the facts with great sensitivity and compassion, gently leading the reader through the dying process so they can know what to expect, and learn how to assist their loved one during this natural, though difficult process.

      It is good to see that a hub of this quality and importance has earned the coveted HOTD award, as it will bring it the recognition it deserves and can be helpful to so many.

      Voted up across the board except for funny and shared.

      Sending a Bouquet of Hub Hugs & Love,

      Gail

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello auirek ~ it's nice to meet you. I agree, most people are afraid of dying. You say I sound as if I am not afraid of dying and you asked what am I afraid of mostly? I used to be very afraid of dying to a point that I spoke about it with a therapist. I was in my late 20's then. But as I am getting older, that is changing with different things I am experiencing. I now have a much deeper respect for the dying process as just another part of the life cycle. So today, I don't have that deep fear as I used to. Although I guess I'd say that I am afraid of dying by certain means such as suffocation or fire. Now that scares me. I hope that at least kind of answers your question. Thank you so much for stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      marellen 4 years ago

      I couldn't get through it all but a very helpful article and one that needs discussion. Care-giving a love one is not easy either but we do gain strength and wisdom along the way. Thanks Sharon for this wonderful hub.

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      Joanna 4 years ago from Valley Springs

      Very well written. I really appreciate this hub and the position you took writing it. Very thoughtful, easy to understand and helpful to those of us who have never sat bed-side but expect to soon.

      Thank you Sharyn's Slant

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      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Original and not expected but what a great hub.This will help so many as it is not enough knowledge that leaves one frightened and uneasy.

      Thanks for sharing and I vote up.

      Eddy.

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      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Extra surge ... I wondered why my dad seemed to get better and then suddenly died. It happened with my friend's grandmother. Most recently a very good friend passed away. The last thing I did for her was place a damp towel on her forehead. This is an excellent hub.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Annie ~ you are very welcome and thank you for stopping by to read and comment.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Sarra ~ How hard that must have been to lose your sister and your dad so close together. Sounds like your sister knew her time was near and gave you a very special gift. I'm so glad this article answered some questions for you. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your life here with us. Take care,

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Tebo ~ it's great to meet you. I'm sorry that you were not able to be there with your husband or your father. Like I said to someone earlier, things happen the way they do for a reason. Now that you are working at your local hospice, you can be there comforting others. Thank you for reassuring me that I've explained the process well. I really appreciate your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      CZCZCZ 4 years ago from Oregon

      Very well written on a tough subject. Was interesting to read. Thanks for sharing.

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Peggy ~ Yes, you are correct that the toe nails and then finger nails do turn a bluish color. I saw that especially with a woman that I took care of earlier this year. I'm glad you were able to be there with your mother, holding her hand. Thank you so much for your feedback and sharing this article. Very much appreciated!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Relationshipc ~ no, the process of dying is not talked about much but you are right, it is one of our consistent occurrences in life. Definitely what your family experienced with your grandpa was that well known surge of energy. I am so sorry you weren't able to be with him during that time. Everyone's process is different and you cannot predict the timing. But I do believe that things happen the way they do for a reason, whether we ever understand that reason or not. Thank you so much for your open feedback! Take care,

      Sharyn

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      William H Taylor 4 years ago from Binghamton NY

      Thank you for this, it is informative. It prepares ones journey through a very dark passage by shedding light on the path.

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      Debra Allen 4 years ago from West By God

      This is very good. I watch both my mothe in law and father in law pass and I told them the same things when I felt it was time. I let them know that they could go and that we were ready for them to leave. I told them how much that I loved them and that they would be missed. I also told them that they were not finished and life does go on and they will be busy once they get to the other side.

      It was very hard to listen to their rattling in their lungs, even though it is a natural thing, it still gives me the creeps. I can tell you that animals go through these stages too, just more rapidly. I had a cat that died from natural causes and she was gone in something like 4 hours, but she also had that breathing and rattling, just a whole lots less time.

      I voted this up and will share.

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Shai ~ It definitely is a sensitive subject. Thank you so much for your compliments on how I handled this information. I appreciate your kind words, thank you!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Thundermama ~ Thank you for the compliments. The older that I get, I do believe that death is something that should be spoken about. At least to have an understanding of loved ones wishes. Thank you so much for your great feedback!

      Sharyn

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      FreezeFrame34 4 years ago from Charleston SC

      Amazingly informative and necessary hub!

      I helped my family take care of my Grandmother while cancer slowly took her body away from her. I learned a lot from her in the years prior to her death; although, the most important lessons I learned in the last few years, months and days. She never once feared dying. She praised God for giving her that time in this world.

      I miss her terribly, but know she is where she always planned to be-in Heaven.

      And I am a better person because I witnessed the experience.

      I only hope that I can live that long-or longer, and be that stress-free and thankful for all that God has given me.

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      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      great hub, Sharyn! Well laid out with great information. Congrats on HOTD. Much deserved!

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      go-barbara-go 4 years ago

      I was diagnosed of a colon tumor a week ago which i hope would not be cancerous. However, this hub sounds comforting. I am hoping my husband and other family members would read this, should that dreaded disease would claim me.

      thank you....Voted up.

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      Tsvetelin Naydenov 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Most people are mostly afraid of dying. You talk of death as you are not afraid of it. What are you afraid of mostly?

      Thank you :)))

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Lynda (craiglyn) ~ I'm so sorry you had to go through this with your husband. I appreciate your thoughts that we do not die, we simply shed our physical bodies. It sounds though that your husband gave you some wonderful gifts, letting you know he was going to be okay. I really appreciate your feedback and follow. Thank you so much!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi MJBoomer (Mike) ~ I agree that simple discussion helps bring understanding and that participating in the process helps us work through our own emotions and beliefs. I checked out your profile and the topics you write about are right up my alley. I look forward to following and reading. Thank you so much for your feedback here.

      Sharyn

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      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Just saw this Hub. So needed! Thanks for writing it!!

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      Sarra Garrett 4 years ago

      Voted Beautiful and Up. I lost my sister from Lupus almost 7 years ago now and my dad passed 8 days prior to my sisters death. My sister called everyone the night before to say her I love You's and passed in her sleep. I miss her so much. Thank you for writing this wonderful article it answered a lot of the unknown. You are a special person for writing this so well.

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      tebo 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Hi Sharyn. I have lost my husband and father, but sadly was not there for either passing. I now work at our local hospice, and see the signs you talk about here. It is comforting for family members and friends to know what to expect, and you have explained it all very well here. Great hub.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image
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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Esenbee ~ Thank you so much for the compliments. I hope this article helps others through the process that is very difficult to even talk about. I like how you said "phase of life." That is exactly what it is. I appreciate your feedback!

      Sharyn

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      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Sharyn,

      I have been with several people when they died...most recently, my mother. She was only in hospice care for less than 24 hours after surgery and ICU for 8 days. This is a wonderful hub and will be helpful to many people, I am sure. At the end, as life slowly ebbs from the body, the extremities get less oxygen so the toenails first turn bluish in color. Then the nails on the hand, etc. I was holding her hand as she died. Up votes and will share. A well deserved HOTD!

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi PP ~ great to see you! I am so glad that this article helped reassure what you witnessed when you were with your mother. So many people witness that "surge in energy" and it can give many a false sense of hope. That is understandable but I think it's a way the person is taking care of their "final thoughts/process." I remember with my Grandma, she became more alert for awhile, maybe a day, and she seemed to be speaking with others who were not in the room.

      A hospice nurse told us that she was going through her "final life review." In a way, it was scary but when I think about it now, it was beautiful to witness. Thank you so much for your kind words.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Martie ~ I do think it is true that those who are in this position with a loved one get the strength and courage needed to go through it. Thank you so much for your feedback and sharing this important article too. I really enjoyed reading through your "library" on Facebook too. It's a great compilation of really important topics. Thanks again, take care,

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Marissa ~ I was sad to hear about your grandmother passing. I remember when my grandma's time was near, she took what appeared to be a final breath. And OMG, she started to breath again. My sisters, dad and I were like, "hey gram, stop teasing us." We had been through so much for weeks and it was difficult. And when we finally thought she let go, she hung on a few minutes longer. It was heartbreaking yet beautiful in its own way too. And I am really glad I shared that experience with my family.

      When you say that you continued to talk to your grandma, that is the best thing you could do. It is estimated that most people can still hear until their final moments. No doubt your gram knew you were right there with her. Thank you so much for your feedback. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Tammy ~ It is a difficult process that I have witnessed as a home health aid and also with my grandmother. Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment.

      Sharyn

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      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I love this, it is something that is not talked about much, yet it is one of the consistent occurrences in life!

      I first learned that people will get an increased sense of energy (almost as if they are better) a few days before death in a sad way. My parents told me that my grandpa was able to talk and was doing much better (he had lost communication skills completely) so I went into visit him the next day and he had passed. It was, and still is, frustrating that he was able to communicate before passing and I couldn't talk to him, but I now understand that it was a sign of things to come.

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      Chen 4 years ago

      Beautifully handled on such a touchy topic. It's a scary time in someone's life when a loved one is heading for the end, but you deal with it in a way that's very comforting and reassuring. Congrats on HOTD. Great job! VU & beautiful.

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Mo ~ thank you so much! I know you have had to go through this and it can be extremely difficult. I do hope my words will help many through the process. Thanks so much for your feedback. Sending hugs your way!

      Sharyn

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      Catherine Taylor 4 years ago from Canada

      So well written and useful. We never talk about death and we should. Your words have given us all some much needed insight into what someones' final days may be like and how to comfort them. Really well done. So glad I read this hub!

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Denise ~ Gosh, thank you so much for the compliments. I am honored that this article received HOTD :) Thanks for stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      Lynda 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Sharyn - thank you for this beautiful hub. I can say that I noticed all of those things you talked about during the 19 day period that my husband was in hospice. None of it was easy but the one important thing that I took away from that time was that we do not die; we simply shed our physical bodies. And what a gift my husband gave to me when he said clearly in his last two days "I want to go Home". I certainly had a view into what he was experiencing and where he was going. Thanks again. : )

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      Mike Elzner 4 years ago from Oregon

      Thank You Sharon, you have done well. Death is the most difficult part of Life for most everyone. Simply creating a discussion helps bring understanding.

      When we "participate in the process" we work through our own emotions and beliefs surrounding mortality as well as mourn the loss of our loved one. Hospice is a valuable resource for everyone at this time.

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      Esenbee 4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I really love this article! I'm very glad that you decided to discuss a process of life that hardly anybody likes to talk about. Hopefully this article will give those who may fear death some type of comfort about that phase of life. Thanks for the information!

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      Sharilee Swaity 4 years ago from Canada

      SS, what an excellent, helpful hub. I went through being with my Mother in her dying, and did not know all of this information. You have helped reassure me about some of her symptoms that I have always wondered about. She did experience a real surge in energy the last week, and I thought it meant that she was going to make it. Reading your article helps make sense of it. Thank you so much for this helpful information, and congratulations on "hub of the day." Well done.

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      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, Sharyn, for this most interesting and useful hub about the process of dying of natural causes. I hope that I will never find myself in the position of seeing a beloved dies, but I also know that those compelled to be in this position do get all the strength and courage they need.

      I am sharing this with my friends and pinning a link in my personal library.

      Excellent presentation! This hub truly deserved to be chosen as the Hub of the Day.

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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      This hub is spot on and well presented. The week before Thanksgiving, I spent several days in the hospital with my dying grandmother. I wish I could have seen this hub sooner and passed it on to my family! Some of my grandmother's children took it all very hard, especially when her breathing slowed near the end. We just continued to talk to her, telling her we loved her and holding her hand. While it was all we could do, at least it was something to show her we cared.

      Well done, Sharon, and a well deserved Hub of the Day!

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      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Congratulations on a well deserved Hub of the Day! I haven't witnessed this with a family member yet, only as a CNA in a nursing home. It is a difficult process. This is a very helpful look at the stages. Well done.

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      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Sharon, congratulations on your Hub of the Day. The information within is very valuable and useful. So many of us have had to live through this difficult experience with loved ones and although it is a difficult stage in life your words will help many. Thanks again for writing this.

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      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      This is such an excellent hub, Sharyn. The thoroughness of this hub cannot be minimized. There will be many people who will find great usefulness from your work here. Rated UP/U/I

      A well deserved Hub of the Day Award. Congratulations! :)

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Maria ~ I am so sorry that you are going through a difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your SIL and family. Life can be so hard at times. Thank you for your appreciation of this article. Although difficult to write, I think it's important for others to have an understanding of what happens during the dying process. And thank you for putting the Patty Duke theme song in my head before I get ready for bed here. I love you. Please take care of yourself.

      Sharyn

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      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Remember the Patty Duke theme song: "They walk alike, they talk alike, at times they even look alike...when cousins are two of a kind...!"

      I am living this now and you are so sensitive, comprehensive and supportive in your content.

      I am linking to my poem dedicated to my SIL...and thank you, Sharon.

      This information will help so many. Voted UP & UABI. Hugs, Maria

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Richard ~ wow, that is a very young age to witness someone dying, especially your mother. And then to witness your friend being hit by a car, that is horrible. You sure did learn a lot as a young boy. Thank you so much for your feedback. I appreciate you sharing your story here too.

      Sharyn

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      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Sharon - So sorry I'm just getting to this. I, too, have been with my mother as she was passing, when I was 13, and a month later, witnessed my best friend getting fatally hit by a car. My mother's was a trying experience as the drugs they'd given her created many wild hallucinations to deal with, in addition to everything else. With my father on night shift, being the only child left it all up to me. I only wish I'd have been better prepared to handle it all. Really a great hub, and a much needed one for many.

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi 2uesday ~ I agree. I think many people shut down when they are dealing with the death of a loved one. It can be extremely hard to watch someone die over time and witness all the changes that take place. I feel horrible to hear that hospice was not available for you in your time of need. That's hard because I believe just having someone else there who is not close to the patient helps because they can be realistic and explain things to the family. Thank you so much for your feedback. Best wishes to you,

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hello C Mommy ~ I'm sure this article brings back memories for many people, some of which are hard to think about. You said exactly how I feel: "It is difficult to watch someone you love die. It's also one of the most beautiful experiences you can share with them." I totally agree. Thank you for your feedback. Take care,

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Rebecca ~ Thank you so much for your feedback and letting me know you felt this was a true account of someone passing on. I appreciate you stopping by.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Ruchira ~ It's interesting to find out how many people really do think it is a beautiful experience. It's hard to describe yet there is something calming about being part of the process. I see you feel the same way with your dad. Thank you so much for your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi CC ~ thanks so much for your feedback. I saw you shared this too, thank you!

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Carrie ~ It is a difficult subject and one that I hope my writing reflects compassion and sensitivity. Thank you so much for your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Teresa ~ I agree that it is better to be prepared for a situation such as this. I truly believe that if you know what to expect, you are more able to remain compassionate and present in the moment. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi lrc7815 ~ I am so sorry to hear about your cousin's wife. I understand how it feels to be there with someone. It IS an honor. Thank you for the reinforcement that my article does give a good description of the process. Your kind words mean so much to me. I will check out your hub about Lisa. Again, thank you for your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Trinity M ~ awww, thank you for the wonderful compliments. It is important to me to handle this subject with much compassion. I hope I have done that. I appreciate your feedback.

      Sharyn

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      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi CyberShelley ~ I am sorry to hear about your friends who died of cancer. Life can be really difficult at times. Thank you for your comments and letting me know you felt what I have described is accurate. I very much appreciate your words.

      Sharyn