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Physical Changes Before Death


Death especially when it comes as a result of a terminal illness is more often preceded by systematic physical changes. It is quite important for people around the patient, especially his or her family members to understand that process so that they can calm their fears and also get rid of the anxiety that is usually caused by death. This essay seeks to discuss these physical changes that occur just before death (Roome, D.).

Before death, the person may experience a drastic decline in his or her health, the vital organs may continue with their functions but with a lot of difficulty because they are either damaged or have failed. The patient tends to gradually separate himself from the physical world and shows closeness to the spiritual world. The patient may exhibit a general lack of interest or desire to get involved in worldly pass times and will instead in things such as setting his affairs in order and even planning his own memorial service (Roome, D.)

The patient tends to sleep more, at first the patient may be woken up by a familiar voice, but after some time, it may appear as if they are unconscious. At this stage, many patients experience visions of Heaven and God. Even though the person may not respond to communication, it is important to keep on communicating to them and even touching them as this expresses love.  Food actually becomes less important as the body systems have already started to shut down. His eyes may remain open and he may stare; his eyes appear glassy. When the person's eyes become glassy and are fixed, more often than not, the person has only a few hours to live. (Roome, D.).

The person shows a decreased response to his environment because the energy levels have significantly reduced. The skin may appear flushed or clammy and may develop blotchy patches. The blood pressure and pulse rate may become erratic. The digestive system is usually the first to cease. It is possible for the body to produce an amount of elimination that is quite profuse as it is a way in which the body is preparing for death. Hearing usually remains the same and the rate of breathing significantly reduces. The breathing may however become labored as death nears (Roome, D.).

A person nearing death may also motions that are repetitive and restless for example pulling at beddings. This is normally as a result of a decrease of the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. The hands and feet of this individual may become cool to the touch; the coolness may then extend to his arms and legs. He may become confused about the identity of his loved ones, his environment, time and place. It is also common for the individual to lose control of bowel matter and even urine because of the relaxation of the muscles found in these areas (Hospice).

The individual may make gurgling sounds from the chest because he is unable to cough up normal secretions and also as a result of the decrease in the intake of fluids. The output of urine significantly reduces and may become quite concentrated with a tea like appearance because of a reduction in the circulation of the urine through the kidneys and reduced intake of fluids (Hospice)


Death is an eventuality and all human beings will die, however a good number of people are not familiar with it. In case a family member has a terminal disease, it is important for his loved ones to comprehend the different stages that their loved one has to pass through so that they can better support him.

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