Brain activity supports that a dying patient most likely can hear. Even if awareness of sound cannot be communicated due to loss of motor responses, the value of verbal interactions is measurable and positive. Patients appear comforted by the sounds of their loved ones (in person and by phone).
They concluded that the dying brain responds to sound tones even during an unconscious state and that hearing is the last sense to go in the dying process. Many people who have had near-death experiences describe a sense of "awe" or "bliss" and a reluctance to come back into their bodies after being revived.
Hearing may indeed be one of the last senses to lose function as humans die.
Although death has historically been medically defined as the moment when the heart irreversibly stops beating, recent studies have suggested brain activity in many animals and humans can continue for seconds to hours.
Visions and Hallucinations
Visual or auditory hallucinations are often part of the dying experience. The appearance of family members or loved ones who have died is common. These visions are considered normal. The dying may turn their focus to “another world” and talk to people or see things that others do not see.
They Know They're Dying
Dying is a natural process that the body has to work at. Just as a woman in labor knows a baby is coming, a dying person may instinctively know death is near. Even if your loved one doesn't discuss their death, they most likely know it is coming.
Hospice has a program that says that no one should have to die alone, and yet this hospice nurse is telling me to take a break? Some patients want to die when no one else is there. Hospice professionals know that companionship while dying is a personal preference.
For the first few minutes of the postmortem period, brain cells may survive. The heart can keep beating without its blood supply. A healthy liver continues breaking down alcohol. And if a technician strikes your thigh above the kneecap, your leg likely kicks, just as it did at your last reflex test with a physician.
Within hours, blood is pulled downwards, causing splotches on the skin. Because the heart is no longer pumping blood around the body, it starts being pulled down by gravity. As the blood pools, patches appear on the skin within 30 minutes of death.
The brain and nerve cells require a constant supply of oxygen and will die within a few minutes, once you stop breathing. The next to go will be the heart, followed by the liver, then the kidneys and pancreas, which can last for about an hour. Skin, tendons, heart valves and corneas will still be alive after a day.
"Our data shows that a dying brain can respond to sound, even in an unconscious state, up to the last hours of life." This new insight into the dying brain's response to sound can help family and friends bring comfort to a person in their final moments.
Speech may become slow or conversation difficult. Your loved one may even lose the ability to speak altogether. It can be disturbing to the dying person to have more than a few people visit at a time. Keep the environment quiet and calm and reassure your loved one that it is OK to sleep.
In time, the heart stops and they stop breathing. Within a few minutes, their brain stops functioning entirely and their skin starts to cool. At this point, they have died.
“First hunger and then thirst are lost. Speech is lost next, followed by vision. The last senses to go are usually hearing and touch.”
Hours Before Death Symptoms
In the final hours of life, your loved one's body will begin to shut down. Their circulatory and pulmonary systems will slowly begin to fail. This may lead to falling body temperatures, but may also cause sudden outbursts.
What Happens One Hour After Death? At the moment of death, all of the muscles in the body relax (primary flaccidity ). The eyelids lose their tension, the pupils dilate, the jaw may fall open, and the joints and limbs are flexible.
Livor Mortis (Lividity) is the settling of blood in body due to gravity. Livor Mortis starts to develop 2-4 hours after death, becomes non-fixed or blanchable up to 8-12 hours after death and fixed or non-blanchable after 8-12 hours from the time of death.
For approximately the first 3 hours after death the body will be flaccid (soft) and warm. After about 3-8 hours is starts to stiffen, and from approximately 8-36 hours it will be stiff and cold. The body becomes stiff because of a range of chemical changes in the muscle fibres after death.
Agonal breathing or agonal gasps are the last reflexes of the dying brain. They are generally viewed as a sign of death, and can happen after the heart has stopped beating.
They might close their eyes frequently or they might be half-open. Facial muscles may relax and the jaw can drop. Skin can become very pale. Breathing can alternate between loud rasping breaths and quiet breathing.
A post-mortem examination will be carried out if it's been requested by: a coroner – because the cause of death is unknown, or following a sudden, violent or unexpected death. a hospital doctor – to find out more about an illness or the cause of death, or to further medical research and understanding.
Go Ahead and Cry
When a loved one cries in front of a dying person, that person then gains the permission and confidence to also be candid about emotions. It opens a pathway to a conversation that could be once in a lifetime. Additionally, the loved one who's dying knows others are sad.
Denmark. When a loved one nears the end of his or her life in Denmark, a special tradition unfolds. It's a simple act – a swift gesture that takes little effort, but says so very much: the opening of a window for “the soul” of the loved one to pass through once they have died.