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Far from being a phenomenon to be feared, death is a serious, painful subject with which every human being is called upon to be confronted. In the past, when death was approaching, all the relatives, even all the inhabitants of the district, were invited to come and pay him a last homage and where we regularly saw the procession of bereaved people following a hearse pass through the streets. But how can we recognize the last hours of a loved one?

No one knows the day or time of death, and that is why it is better to be prepared. But according to natural health and innovation, there are 10 signs that can prove that death is approaching

Loss of appetite

When death approaches, energy needs decrease. The person begins to resist or refuse to eat and drink, and accepts only small amounts of bland foods (e. g. cereal porridge). Meat, which is difficult to digest, is rejected first. As death approaches, the person may become unable to swallow.

How to react: do not feed by force, respect the signs given by the person, even if you may be upset and worried about this loss of interest in food. Offer small pieces of sorbet or ice cream, or a sip of water, on a regular basis. Run a moistened, warm towel around your mouth and apply lip balm to keep your lips moist and pain-free.

Excessive tiredness and sleep

The person sleeps most of the day and night while their metabolism slows down, and low food and drink intake contributes to dehydration. It becomes difficult to wake her up. The fatigue is so severe that the person can no longer follow what is happening directly around them.

How to react: let the person sleep. Avoid waking her up suddenly. Assume that everything you say can be heard, because hearing continues to function, even when the person is unconscious, and even in a coma.


Lack of food and fatigue weaken the person to the point where he or she may become unable to lift his or her head, or even to suck into a straw.

How to react: focus on the person’s comfort.

Mental confusion

The organs are starting to stop working, including the brain. Few diseases cause hyper-acuity (high level of consciousness) as the end approaches. In general, the dying no longer know exactly where they are or who is in the room, talk and answer less often, address people whom others do not see, may seem to say senseless things, may get agitated and search their sheets.

How to react: remain calm and reassuring. Talk to the person gently and explain who you are when you approach.

Labored breathing

Breathing becomes irregular, difficult. You can hear a distinctive form of breathing called Cheyne-Stokes Breathing (CBS): a strong, deep inhalation followed by a break that can last from five seconds to a full minute, before a strong resumption of breathing and then exhaustion again. This is also called “sleep apnea”, which is caused by changes in blood pressure and carbon dioxide concentration in the blood.

The lungs and throat can also produce excessive secretions that create loud noises of inhalation and exhalation, known as the “rail”.

How to react: apnea and rales may be disturbing to those present, but the dying person is not aware of these changes in breathing. Again, focus on the person’s comfort. The positions that can help are with the head slightly raised on a pillow, sitting the person firmly with cushions and a solid backrest, or lying slightly inclined on the side. Moisten the mouth with a damp towel, possibly a spray and put balm on the lips.
If there is a lot of mouth and nose discharge, wipe gently without trying to blow the person’s nose. Stay calmly with the person, hold his or her hand or talk to him or her gently.

Social isolation

As the body stops functioning, the dying persons loses interest in the people around them. She may stop talking, mumble in an unintelligible way, stop answering questions, or simply turn her back.
A few days before cutting himself off from his environment, the person can sometimes surprise his loved ones with a final outpouring of joy and affection, which can last less than an hour and up to a full day.

How to react: be aware that this is a normal part of the death process, which has nothing to do with the relationship you had with the person. Maintain a physical presence by touching the person and continuing to talk, if you feel like doing so, without asking for anything in return. Immediately enjoy a moment of lucidity if it happens, because it will quickly fade away.

Slower urination (urine)

The low volume of drink and low blood pressure contribute to reduced kidney activity. The urine becomes very concentrated, brownish, reddish or tea-coloured. There may also be a loss of sphincter control as death approaches.

How to react: Hospital staff may sometimes decide that a catheter (a tube) is necessary, except in the last hours of life. Stopping kidney function increases toxins in the blood and can contribute to a peaceful coma before death. Put a sheet on the mattress by changing the sheets.

Swollen feet and ankles

When kidney function slows down, fluids can accumulate in the body, especially in areas far from the heart such as feet and ankles. These areas, as well as the hands and face, may swell.

How to react: In general, no special treatment (such as diuretics) is given when these swellings are related to agony. This is a consequence, not a cause, of the approach of death.

Cold ends

In the hours or minutes before death, blood flow withdraws from the periphery of the body to focus on vital organs. As this happens, hands, fingers, feet and toes become cold. Nails may appear pale or bluish.

How to react: a warm blanket can maintain the person’s comfort, and keep them conscious. The person may complain about the weight of what covers them so don’t over tighten them.

Marbled veins

Skin that had been uniformly pale or ashen develops a distinctive pattern of purplish-blue/red marbling, which is one of the signs that death is imminent. This is the result of the slower blood flow. First we see these mottles appear on the soles of the feet.


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