Signs and symptoms of Approaching Death
The Dying Process
Each person approaches death in their own way, bringing to this last experience their own uniqueness.
Use this guideline while remembering there is nothing concrete here, all is very flexible. All signs may be present or no signs may be present.
DEATH COMES IN ITS OWN TIME, IN ITS OWN WAY.
DEATH IS AS UNIQUE AS THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS EXPERIENCING IT.
One to two months prior to death:
Withdrawal: As the knowledge that “yes, I am dying,” becomes real, a person begins to withdraw from the world around them. This is the beginning of separation, first from the world – no more interest in newspapers or TV; then from people – no more neighbors visiting, “Tell Aunt Maude I don’t feel like company today.” This is a time of withdrawing from everything outside one’s self and going inside. The processing of one’s life is usually done with the eyes closed, so sleep increases. This appears to be just sleep but know that important work is going on inside on a level which “outsiders” aren’t aware. With this withdrawing comes less of a need to communicate with others. Touch and wordlessness takes on new meaning.
Food: When a body is preparing to die it is perfectly natural that eating should stop. This is one of the hardest concepts for a family to accept. It is okay not to eat. A different kind of energy is needed now. A spiritual energy, not a physical one, will sustain from here on.
One to two weeks prior to death
Disorientation: Most of the patient’s time is now spent sleeping. A person often becomes confused, talking to people, and about places and evens that are unknown to others. They may see and converse with loved ones who have died before them. Focus is changing from this world to the next – they are releasing their grounding to earth.
Physical Changes: There are physical changes which show the physical body is losing its ability to maintain itself.
The blood pressure often lowers:
• There are changes in the pulse beat either increasing from a normal of eighty to upwards of one hundred fifty, or anywhere down to zero.
• The body temperature fluctuates between fever and cold
• There is increased perspiration, often with clamminess’
• The skin color changes – flushing with the fever, bluish with the cold. A pale yellowish pallor (not to be confused with jaundice) often accompanies approaching death.
• The nail beds, hands and feet are often pale and bluish because the heart can’t circulate the blood through the body at a normal flow.
Breathing changes also occur;
• Respirations may increase from a normal sixteen to twenty to upwards of forty or fifty or may decrease to nine or even six breaths every minute.
• There can be a puffing, a blowing of the lips on exhaling, or actual stopping of the rhythmic breathing only to resume again. This generally occurs during sleep. Congestion can also occur, a rattly sound in the lungs and upper throat.
• All of these breathing changes and congestion have a tendency to come and go. One minute any or all of these symptoms can be present, the next minute breathing may be clear and be even.
One to two days, to hours prior to death
Sometimes there is a surge of energy, a person may talk clearly and alertly when before they had been disorientation. A favorite meal may be asked for and eaten when nothing had been eaten for days. The spiritual energy for transition from this world to the next has arrived and it is used for a time of physical expression before moving on.
Restlessness can further increase due to lack of oxygen in the blood. The breathing patterns become slower and more irregular. Breathing often stops for ten to fifteen or even thirty to forth-five seconds before resuming again.
Congestion can be very loud. It can be affected by positioning on one side or the other. It still comes and goes.
The eyes may be open or semi-open but not seeing. There is a glassy look to them, with the eyes often tearing.
The hands and feet now become purplish; also the knees, ankles, and elbows are blotchy. The underside of the arms, legs, back and buttocks can also be blotchy.
Generally, a person becomes non-responsive, unable to respond to their environment, sometimes prior to death.
How a person approaches death depends upon their fear of life, and how willing they are to let go of this known expression to venture into a new one. Fear and unfinished business are two big factors to how much resistance they put into meeting death.
The separation becomes complete with breathing stopping. What appears to be the last breath is often followed by one or two long spaced breaths and then the physical body is empty. The owner is no longer in need of a heavy non-functioning vehicle.
THEY HAVE ENTERED A NEW CITY, A NEW LIFE!