End of Life - Signs of Death

End of Life - Signs of Death

"There's nothing more we can do... I'm sorry." These are some of the saddest words we often hear when the end of life of your loved one is approaching. The news of death can fear anyone, whether they are parents of an ill child, teens who are excited about the beginning of their life or the most seemingly healthy individuals from any age group.


  • Death is the ultimate fate of worldly life everyone has to experience
  • More sleeping, loss of appetite, weakness, and breathing difficulties are some of the signs of the end times
  • Planning and preparing in advance will help deal with the approaching death more easily

We are all the part of the ultimate fate i.e. death. Each one of us will experience a unique journey and unique healing process. 

Whether you are relative or friend of a dying person or yourself facing the end of time on earth, there are certain signs that indicate that the death is near.

Here are some signs of the end times along with tips that would help you or your loved ones prepare better for the approaching calamity.

1. More Sleeping

A person whose death is near begins to spend more time on the bed, resting majority of the day. Due to the slowdown of metabolism, reduction in food and water intake, the person will experience fatigue and tiredness, hence requiring more sleep.

How can you help?

If the person is feeling sleepy or unresponsive, sit quietly or speak softly by holding their hands

2. Loss of Appetite

The demand for energy decreases if the death of your loved one is near. As they don’t need much energy to carry out daily tasks, they may begin to refuse or resist meals or liquid. 

Nothing excites them not even their favorite food. They may completely stop eating days before death.

How can you help?

Do not force them for feeding, however, you can offer them water to help them keep their body hydrated as much as possible

3. Seclusion

A person whose external world begins to diminish might no longer want to leave the house and talk to other people. They withdraw themselves from their regular activities and their mood and behavior tend to change. This is due to changes in the level of energy.

How can you help? 

Show your physical presence by touching them and feeling them comfortable.

4. Change in Body waste functionality

As less food and drink goes inside, the bowel movements and the kidneys are bound to be affected. There will be less frequent visit to the bathroom. 

The color of urine will change to reddish and brownish due to dehydration. Similarly, urinary incontinence can also become a normal state of affairs.

How can you help? 

Ask the medical staff for adding a catheter if necessary. You can also add a bed pad when placing fresh sheets.

5. Swelling in Feet and Ankles

As the kidneys of the dying person are less active in terms of processing bodily fluids, they can get deposited in other parts of the body such as feet and ankles. 

This gives a puffy and swollen appearance to the area. This is a natural part of the dying process.

How can you help? 

Swelling is natural, so basically, no treatment is necessary. All you can do is to give them company, as much as possible.

6. Weakening of Muscles

As weakness and fatigue overcome the body, the muscles can become very weak, especially in the final days of death. Even simple task such as turning over in the bed or lifting a cup of water can become very difficult due to loss of muscle mass and energy in the body.

How can you help? 

Try to be close with them and help them manage things

7. Falling body temperature

Change in body temperature, blood pressure and respiration becomes common. Blood circulation begins to draw back to help the vital organs of the body. This simply means hands and feet will become cooler due to reduced blood circulation. Skin color may also change to purple-bluish.

How can you help? 

Providing them a warm blanket can make them feel comfortable

8. Trouble in Breathing

The breathing of a dying person becomes irregular and difficult. This could be an alarming sign as well. Deep inhalation and exhalation are often followed by sudden pause and gasps in between. Sometimes excessive secretion of phlegm can cause rattling sound.

How can you help? 

Tilted or elevated head position with pillow might help. Tell them to allow the phlegm drain naturally through the mouth.

9. Mental Confusion

With the decrease in vital organs functionality, the brain no longer remains unaffected. The consciousness tends to change and some people may become aggressive and speak nonsensically.

How can you help? 

Identify yourself when you approach them by speaking softly. Remain calm and reassuring.

10. Intensity of Pain

Pain is the most common sign of death. As the death draws nearer, pain intensity is likely to increase manifolds. This could be due to several reasons including swollen legs and arms. The dying person could express his feeling through frowning and groaning loudly.

How can you help? 

Consult doctor or nurse for pain management. Play some soft music if they are familiar with them. The music will help divert their mind from the pain.

Experiencing the end stages of life is really one of the difficult times to face. Communicating politely and providing comfort to each other physically and emotionally can prove to be the most rewarding gift you can give to your loved one.


Catheter - A thin flexible tube inserted into the body to allow introduction or withdrawal of fluid


1. Hirakawa Y. and Uemura K. (2012, November 09).Signs and Symptoms of Impending Death in End-of-life Elderly Dementia Sufferers: Point of View of Formal Caregivers in Rural Areas.doi:  10.2185/jrm.7.59 read more