If there is one thing that is certain in life, it’s that we can never prepare for death. Also, few people actually know what to expect when our life clock ticks down to zero. But according to science, death, much like life, is a process.
According to Dr. Nina O’Connor, director of palliative care at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, one of the first processes people go through when they’re dying is they become extremely focused on their family and things that are important to them. The reason this occurs is it gives the person a chance to get rid of any regret they may have. It also allows them to leave this world surrounded by people who can’t bear to see them go.
But the real question millions of people are constantly asking is what happens before and after you die? Thankfully, Dr. O’Connor is able to help answer what happens before you die.
Loss of Appetite: Dr. O’Connor explains that a person’s appetite could begin to dip for various reasons when they’re dying. The first reason is that the body could be producing excess catecholamine, which is a chemical in the bloodstream that suppresses your appetite. The other reason why a person’s appetite might diminish is that their intestines are not functioning at normal capacity. This prevents food from being processed properly, so it might sit in their stomach which can make them feel nauseous. Dr. O’Connor adds that people tend to get upset when a dying loved one refuses to eat. But she says that people need to understand that in most cases it’s their body preventing them from eating, not their mind.
Slow Moving: Dr. O’Connor states that physical fatigue and weakness is profound when someone is nearing the end of their life. The person may talk slower, move even slower, and one of the reasons this may occur is because of the medications they are taking. According to Dr. O’Connor, many people who are in the final days of their lives are on heavy painkillers, which can slow them down. She also adds that having out-of-balance electrolytes can add to this as well. In addition to weakness and fatigue, Dr. O’Connor says that in the final hours, some people have what is called a “death rattle” when they breathe. This occurs because the person is unable to cough up or swallow discharges. It’s painless for the person, but can be troubling for loved ones.
Slipping Away: According to Dr. O’Connor, when a person dies, physicians will check for two types of death; cardiac death and brain death. If a person is a ‘vegetable’, that means that they have no brain activity and life support is what is keeping the organs functioning. Dr. O’Connor states that at that point, life support is turned off because they have passed on. But she also mentions that it can be trickier when it comes to cardiac death. In many cases, a person’s heart stops but is then restarted and functions normally.
Changes After Death: According to Medscape, there are stages that the body goes through immediately after death. The first stage is Rigor Mortis. This is when the body begins to stiffen. In most cases, this begins to occur within a couple of hours after the person has died. Rigor mortis begins to pass within 24 hours after death.
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Disclaimer: Providr does not provide medical advice,