Death is part of the cycle of life. Plants die, pets die and people we know and love die.
It is especially hard to bear when a family member is faced with his/her own mortality.
Questions arise about what they person will be going through as the body dies.
Much will depend on the cause of impending death (illness or bodily injury). Symptoms may depend on how the death happens. Injuries usually involve blood loss and usually speeds the process of death resulting in a quicker death if large volumes of blood is loss.
Head injuries usually mean that the individual will not be mentally aware of the impending death.
Common symptoms that signal that the individual is in the final stages of the dying process are connected to energy level in that the person will sleep more or be observed to be in a weakened condition.
There will be breathing pattern changes such as rapid or labored breathing or a decreased ability to draw in breath.
The individual may also experience spells of apnea which is when there is a cessation of breathing for 20 to 30 seconds.
Another symptom is unusual visual and hearing episodes like hallucinations (seeing things that are not there) or hearing voices.
The individual will also not need to eat or drink because the body will be trying to conserve energy. They will experience constipation and dark urine which may be red.
Body temperature changes such as running a high fever or feeling extremely cold and being cold to the touch are also symptoms that may be experienced.
There are also emotional changes that take place during the final stage of the dying process.
The individual will start to withdrawal from this world including interest in events or people that would normally concern them.
They will if mentally able to; want to get things right with relationships and final plans such as insurance and wills etc.
Any symptoms associated with the cause of death if that is an illness may increase in intensity towards the end including level of pain.
The medical staff will do all they can to make sure that the individual is kept as comfortable as possible.
Certain illnesses have more accompanying pain than others such as pancreatic or bone cancer.
Pain can be effectively managed by the medical staff caring for the individual. Medication is one way to handle pain, but there is also alternative therapy like acupuncture and massage therapy.
The questions that are on your mind may be different from those on your neighbor’s mind when it comes to what it is like to die.
Most of us center our thoughts on the physical part of dying – what it is like to have our breathing and heart stop.
Most of us probably wish that we would have a painless, quick and non-violent death.
If you took a poll, the majority of us would probably say we want to die in our sleep.
Questions about death and the dying process are good because they help to prepare us not only for our death but the death of
those around us who truly matter to us; like parents, other family members, co-workers, and neighbors, even political or cultural leaders.
We are usually exposed to the concept of death at an early age when our goldfish floats or Fido isn’t home when we get out of school.
We may lose a much loved grandparent or school friend and the lessons of death begin.
Knowledge gathered from receiving answers to our questions not only prepares us for what is to come but allows us to live our life without the fears that can come from the unknown.