Death is inevitable, at some point we all have to face it. Death can be called different names: cancer, diabetes, heart failure, or stroke, the end result is usually the same.
Dying has its own biology and symptoms. It’s a diagnosis in itself. While the symptoms of death can vary from week to week and person to person, the hours before death seem to be similar across the board.
While very few of us will experience all the symptoms of dying, majority of us will experience at least one if not more of the following.
Death Rattle: In simple terms, the death rattle is the symptom of swallowing dysfunction. Usually our tongue rises above the mouth and will propel saliva, food or liquid backwards.
But if you are in the final stages of death, this process will become agonizing and weak. One thing you might experience is the tongue propels the saliva backward before the epiglottis has time to cover the airway. Or the tongue does not push the saliva and it will trickle down into the lungs instead. So the death rattle is the lungs trying to breathe through the saliva.
Air Hunger: This symptom is the uncomfortable feeling of breathing with great difficulty. If you have ad asthma or still do, you understand how stressing it can be when you need to take that deep breathe but can’t.
Some experts believe that the discomfort of air hunger is caused by the mismatch between what the brain wants and our lungs’ ability to inflate or deflate air.
Terminal Agitation: Accepting what is coming is never easy, especially when what’s coming is the end. Some people accept it with open arms, maybe because they feel they have lived a good life and have given everything they had to offer. Others may not share that same mentality.
Terminal agitation is the person’s revolt against what is coming. Rather than peacefully float off, the dying person may let out a crying scream and try to get out of bed and make a run for it. Other symptoms of terminal agitation are urine retention, shortness of breath and metabolic abnormalities.
Ways to Accept Death: I will never sit here and tell anyone that it’s easy to accept death, because it’s not. But there are ways you can prepare yourself for it. One way is to remember that death is part of life. No one lives forever, and you may not have planned it out this way, but it is happening. The faster you recognize this, the easier it will be for everyone around you. Don’t spend your remaining days worrying about it, spend it with your family and friends and show them why you’ll never be forgotten.
Another helpful way to accept death is to say the most important things to the most important people in your life if you can. One of the reasons many people fear death is because there are things they wish they did or said. If you are unable to do certain activities, make it your goal to speak to every person close to you and tell them anything you feel they need to know. Leave no regrets on the table.