Stressful Near-Death Experiences: The Basics (2023)

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  • V. 111(6); November-December 2014
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Stressful Near-Death Experiences: The Basics (1)

Missouri Medicine

Mo Med.2014 November-December; 111(6): 486–491.



Nancy Evans Bush, M. A.Stressful Near-Death Experiences: The Basics (2)

Nancy Evans Bush, MA is President Emeritus of the International Association for Near-Death Studies

Bruce Greyson, MD

Bruce Greyson, MD, is the Chester F. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Department of Cognitive Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine

(Video) Near-Death Experiences: A New Interpretation

Information about the author Copyright and license information disclaimer

The vast majority of near-death experiences (NDEs) that have been publicly reported over the past four decades have been described as pleasurable, even glorious. Almost unnoticed in the euphoria about her was the troubling fact that not all NDEs are so life-affirming. Some are deeply disturbing.

Few people talk about such an event; They are hiding; disappear when requested information; if they are hospitalized, they are likely to give up; You are under a lot of stress. What do your doctors need to know to deal with these experiences?

Types of distressing near-death experiences

We've documented three types of harrowing NDEs: reverse, empty, and hellish.1The following brief descriptions illustrate the types. All examples are from the authors' archives unless otherwise noted.

reverse NTE

In some NDEs, features normally described as pleasant in other NDEs are perceived as hostile or threatening. A man, thrown from his horse, floated to the top of a tree and watched paramedics work on his body. "Not! bizarre scenario and his inability to influence what was happening left him in a panic.

A woman in childbirth felt her spirit detach from her body and fly into space at tremendous speed, then she saw a small ball of light zooming towards her: “It got bigger and bigger as it came towards me. I realized we were on a collision course and it scared me. I saw blinding white light coming straight at me and enveloping me.”

One woman collapsed from hyperthermia and began to relive her entire life: "I was filled with so much sadness and going through so much depression."

The NDE of Emptiness

An “empty” NDE is an ontological encounter with a vast perceived void, often a devastating scene of loneliness, isolation, sometimes annihilation. A woman in childbirth abruptly flew over the hospital and fell into deep, empty space. A group of circular beings informed her that she never existed, that she was allowed to imagine her life, but it was a joke; she wasn't real. She argued with facts about her life and descriptions of the land. "No," they said, "none of this was ever real; it was all there was." She was left alone in space.2, S. 1–5

Another mother felt she was floating in the water, but at a certain point “it was no longer a feeling of peace; it had become pure hell. I had become a light in the sky and I screamed, but no sound came out. It was worse than any nightmare. I turned around and realized this was eternity; this was what forever would be…. I felt the loneliness, the emptiness of space, the vastness of the universe, but I, a mere screaming ball of light.”

A woman who attempted suicide felt sucked into a void: “I was being pulled into this dark abyss or tunnel or void…. I was not aware of my body as I know it... I was shocked. I was afraid. I didn't expect anything; I waited for the great sleep; expected oblivion; and I found out now that I was getting on another plane... and it scared me. I didn't want anything, but that power pulled me to a place I didn't want to go, but I never got out of the fog."

A man being attacked by a hitchhiker felt himself leaving his body: "Suddenly, I was surrounded by total darkness, floating in nothing but black space, with no top, bottom, left or right... Eternity passed. I lived fully in this misery. I was only allowed to think and reflect."

EQM infernal

Seemingly hellish experiences may be the least common type of distressing NDE. A man with heart failure felt himself falling into the depths of the earth. Below was a series of tall, rusted gates that he realized were the gates of Hell. Panicking, he managed to climb back out into the open.

A woman was escorted through a shockingly desolate landscape and saw a group of wandering spirits. They looked lost and were in pain, but her guide told her not to help them.

An atheist college professor with a ruptured intestine was maliciously pinched and then torn apart by malicious beings.3

A woman bleeding from a ruptured fallopian tube reported an NDE involving “terrible beings with gray, gelatinous appendages that reached out and grabbed me. The sounds of their guttural moans and the indescribable smell are still there 41 years later. There were no benevolent beings of light, no videos of life, nothing beautiful or pleasant.”

(Video) The psychology of post-traumatic stress disorder - Joelle Rabow Maletis

A woman attempting suicide felt her body slide downwards into a cold, dark, watery environment: "When I got to the bottom, it looked like a cave entrance, with what looked like nets hanging down... I heard screaming, wailing, groaning and creaking of teeth. I saw these beings that looked human, shaped like a head and body, but were ugly and grotesque.... They were frightening and sounded as if they were being tormented, in agony.”

Three types of answers

These near-death experiences are traumatic in their reality, shattering the sense of mundane reality and the power of the issues they raise. Three common responses apply to all types of experience: inversion, reductionism, and long distance.2

1. The Plot Point: "I needed this"

A classic response to a deep spiritual experience is conversion, not necessarily changing one's religion, but in the original sense of the Latin convertere, meaning to turn around. The terrible NDE is interpreted as a warning against reckless or wrong behavior and to turn one's life upside down: “I was shown that I had to mold or give away one thing or another. In other words, 'Get Together', and that's what I did.”4, p. 46

The movement towards a dogmatic religious community is widespread in this group. Clinical social worker Kimberly Clark Sharp noted, "Everyone I know who has had negative experiences has become a biblical Christian... You can express it in various sects. But everyone feels like they've come back from a terrible situation and have a second chance."5, p. 85

Fear may remain a powerful influence, but strict theology may offer a way out. The atheist professor above, who experienced being maliciously pinched and then torn apart by malicious beings, left his university and entered the seminary.3Others also shared a new dedication: “I got off drugs, moved back to Florida, and now I'm in Bible school. I used to have a casual attitude towards death, but now I fear it even more. So yes, it was a warning. I was given another chance to change my behavior on Earth... I took my fear of death and put it in the scriptures.”4, p. 43Since then I have dedicated my life to the supreme God Jehovah and spend 60 hours a month speaking and teaching about the Creator of heaven and earth and all living things. I am not worried now about death, because now I know that God has promised us something much more.”

2. Reductionism: "It was just..."

In response to a harrowing experience, reductionism has been described as the "defense that allows you to dismiss the meaning of an event that does not fit into a safe category" and "treat the event as if it doesn't matter". 🇧🇷6, p. 35

One woman whose anaphylactic reaction triggered an NDE with both loving and scary elements concluded: "Actually, there are rational explanations for what I experienced... When stressed, the brain releases natural opiates that stop the pain and anxiety. The lack of oxygen stops it. the normal activity of the visual cortex.... Too much neural activity in the dying brain causes streaks of activity.... Our eyes, even closed, interpret these activity strips as... the sensation of moving forward in a tunnel... More brain cells are concentrated in the center of the cortex than on the edges. So, as we approach death, the brain interprets all those dense cells with their crazy activity as a bright light in the center of our field of vision. It's all very scientific."7, p. 95

Their conclusion is that, based on the scientific evidence, the experience had no ontological significance. Any lingering fears are not addressed.

A woman who had a horrible experience during childbirth also dismissed the reality of the experience: "Perhaps it was the effects of the ether and not a near-death experience." wildly: “I often wonder if my mind was playing tricks on me in the shock of the attack and that maybe I was just unconscious and my brain was starved for oxygen. 🇧🇷

A man who had spoken publicly about his brilliant NDE for many years had a second experience of being attacked by gigantic, mysterious and menacing geometric shapes, leaving him with deep-seated pessimism and deathly fear. Upon learning that drug-induced hallucinations involve geometric shapes, he concluded that his second NDE was "just a drug reaction." This may be a clinically reasonable conclusion, but experience remains. Reductionism provides a temporary buffer to mask issues and fears, but does nothing to resolve them.

3. Long distance: "What did I do?"

Other experienced people have difficulty understanding or integrating surprising NDEs. Years later, these people still struggle with the existential implications of the NDE: “I had an experience that stayed with me for 29 years…. It left a horror in my head and I never spoke about it until now." And: "After all these years, the nightmare is still alive in my mind." "For some reason [31 years later] all the memories are back and alive ... . It's like reliving it all over again, and I don't want to. I thought I had everything sorted and in its place, but this time I'm having a really hard time taking notes.

Also: "For the next 50 years I would try to push the memory of the dark, ominous experience away because it felt so real it was still scary no matter how old I got." And: "I've been married 33 years and I don't even discuss the experience with my husband…. And yet it's as clear to me now as it was when it happened." Also: "I just buried the whole thing as deep as I could, I've been so busy with civic affairs, politics... It seems pretty clear to me now, although the details aren't there, that there's a core issue that still needs to be addressed. addressed.”

“I keep seeing this vision as flashbacks. I can't get it out of my head... I still see it in my head with my own eyes. It's been two years, but I've never spoken about it. My husband doesn't even know... I want to put this behind me, but I can't."

This group usually consists of articulate people who are haunted by the existential dimension of their NDE and are looking for a cognitively and emotionally grounded explanation. They find a literal interpretation of the event intellectually unacceptable, but reductionist explanations just assign a cause without addressing the meaning. They struggle to understand the nagging NDE without destroying them (and their faith in the way the world works) in the process.

More than others, these experimenters have been in psychotherapy, some for many years, although without data this may only indicate openness and financial resources. Doctors often prescribe drugs to disguise the interviews and dismiss the NDE as fanciful or pathological; Therapists will not broach the subject or leave the client feeling guilty or romanticizing spirituality and failing to deal with its dark side; and the clergy either have no idea what to say or categorically reject the experience.

The religious element of your NDE is usually absent:

"I was filled with a feeling of absolute terror and that I couldn't help anyone, not even God."

"I looked around. Looking deliberately for… God or some other angelic creature, but I was alone.”

“I expected the Lord to be there, but He wasn't... I called on God and He wasn't. That scared me."4, p. 53

(Video) Inside the mind of a neurosurgeon

Mostly your questions involve some variation of "What did I do to deserve this?" or "What are the rules if the rules I've been living by don't work?" They don't lose their fear of death for long, if ever." The man upstairs, being attacked by a hitchhiker, was still wrestling with the aftermath: "I was thinking, if I was in this hell, I'd come back to my death ? Was I sent there for something I might do in the future or for something I did in the past? ... I don't believe in hell, but it was such a powerful experience, there's always this underlying insecurity and anger and fear."

post-traumatic growth

The psychological literature on posttraumatic growth did not exist in the early years of our study of distressing NDEs, so this aspect of the response is underestimated. As a growing number of studies make clear, it is even the most devastating life event, "like the sand that produces the oyster, often what drives people to become more true to themselves, to face new challenges and to see life from a broader perspective consider point of view.”8, p. 7This is a promising and underdeveloped approach for clinicians working with people who are struggling after a harrowing near-death experience.9

Seven things to know about harrowing near-death experiences

  1. Distressing NDEs occur in the same diverse set of circumstances and share most of the same elements as pleasurable NDEs. What differs is the emotional tone, which ranges from fear to terror, passing through guilt or despair. Reports often lack two elements common to pleasurable NDEs: a positive emotional tone and loss of fear of death.

  2. A notorious reluctance to report a distressing NDE can result in lasting trauma for individuals and limit data on the occurrence. A literature review spanning thirty years of research concludes that as many as one in five NDEs may be predominantly distressing.10

  3. The etiology of all these events remains unknown. Despite decades of clinical studies, none adequately explain the cause or function of NDEs. Furthermore, NDEs cut across so many clinical circumstances and demographics that there is no way to predict who will have what type of NDE. No evidence supports the conventional wisdom that "good" people have pleasant NDEs and "bad" people have distressing NDEs. Santos reported extremely disturbing NDEs,11, S. 63–75while criminals and suicides experienced bliss.12, S. 41–44

  4. Pleasant NDEs tend to convey universal messages of compassion that transcend religious and philosophical systems. Distressing NDEs often have less focused messages, but follow the ancient shamanic pattern of suffering/death/resurrection, which can be read less metaphorically as an invitation to self-examination, dissolving core beliefs, and rebuilding. In practice, a common interpretation of a distressing NDE is that it is a life-changing message.

  5. The description of each NDE is shaped by the experiencer's pre-existing mental categories and vocabulary. For example, although the archetype of a benevolent leader is common in NDEs, individuals often identify the presence according to their own cultural vocabulary. Any account that identifies an archetypal person by name is a perception that may or may not be factually true, but cannot be verified as such. Understandably, it is such facts that can upset religious and materialistic groups. Secular Westerners generally believe that an NDE portends a psychotic episode.

  6. The main effect of many NDEs is a strong and persistent awareness that the physical world is not the full extent of reality. Since this insight is profoundly contrary to Western materialism and, conversely, its implications pertain to some dogmatic theological teachings, the new belief often abruptly and permanently disrupts the experimenter's personal life and social relationships.

  7. A major challenge for physicians and other scientists who study reports of near-death experiences is managing this intrusion of non-materialistic religious and philosophical language and understandings into the hard data of clinical reasoning. Interestingly, it is precisely at the extremes of religious fundamentalism and material scientism that a problem with the literal is found. For fundamentalists, accounts are considered literally physically real; for committed materialists they must be dismissed as madness because literal physical reality is impossible and no alternative concept is acceptable.

Raymond Moody noted in the article that introduces this series, "Best practice for clinicians is to strictly adhere to clinical and research concerns."13, p. 371Post-NDE judgments of patients and their families with whom clinicians must interact likely make this suggestion difficult to follow. Listening without judging may be the most viable alternative.


Like the more familiar pleasurable NDEs, distressing near-death experiences as altered states of consciousness are both fascinating and frustrating. Because of the ingrained concept of hell in Western culture and its Christian association with eternal physical torment, they pose serious challenges for people who must shape their lives around such a profound event, as well as their families, friends and doctors. In the absence of clear clinical data and universal cultural views, clinicians are cautioned that a neutral opinion and careful listening are likely to represent professional best practice in dealing with these difficult near-death experiences.


Nancy Evans Bush, MA, (left) is president emeritus of the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Bruce Greyson, MD, is the Chester F. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Department of Cognitive Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.


Stressful Near-Death Experiences: The Basics (3)

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(Video) What Near-Death Experiences Reveal About Life and Beyond with Dr. Bruce Greyson

Stressful Near-Death Experiences: The Basics (4)

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None reported.


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(Video) Children, Violence, and Trauma—Treatments That Work


What are the three stages of near death experiences? ›

(1977) described 3 –instead of 5– successive phases: (1) resistance (including a recognition of danger, the fear of dying, a struggle to live, and acceptance of death), (2) life review, and (3) transcendence (i.e., a mystical state of consciousness).

Can a near death experiences cause PTSD? ›

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

The incidence of PTSD symptoms among NDErs is higher than that among survivors of close brushes with death without NDEs, although it is within the normal range and far below that seen in clinical PTSD.

What are examples of NDE? ›

NDE elements include awareness of being dead. OBE in which a person experiences the world from outside the physical body may include moving through a tunnel, communication with light, observation of celestial landscape, meeting with deceased persons, life review and presence of border.

How do you deal with near death experience? ›

Try to accept what happened and give yourself permission to stop trying to find meaning in what occurred. It may help to put your thoughts and feelings into words by keeping a journal, talking to family and friends, or participating in recovery meetings or support groups associated with the event.

What are the stages of near death? ›

The Last Stages of Life
  • Withdrawal from the External World.
  • Visions and Hallucinations.
  • Loss of Appetite.
  • Change in Bowel and Bladder Functions.
  • Confusion, Restlessness, and Agitation.
  • Changes in Breathing, Congestion in Lungs or Throat.
  • Change in Skin Temperature and Color.
  • Hospice Death.

What are the 3 main ways that death can be defined? ›

There are three main ways that death can be defined: legally, culturally or clinically. Find out what criteria are used to determine the moment of death.

What are the 17 symptoms of PTSD? ›

What are the 17 Symptoms of PTSD?
  • Intrusive Thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are perhaps the best-known symptom of PTSD. ...
  • Nightmares. ...
  • Avoiding Reminders of the Event. ...
  • Memory Loss. ...
  • Negative Thoughts About Self and the World. ...
  • Self-Isolation; Feeling Distant. ...
  • Anger and Irritability. ...
  • Reduced Interest in Favorite Activities.
Jun 14, 2021

How long does the brain function after death? ›

An unexpected discovery made by an international team, examining the results of an EEG on an elderly patient, who died suddenly of a heart attack while the test was in progress. What happens in our brain when we make the transition from life to death?

What does PTSD look like in a woman? ›

Feeling jittery, nervous or tense.

Become easily startled. Have more trouble feeling emotions, experience numbness. Avoid trauma reminders. Experience depression and anxiousness.

What are the problems facing NDE? ›

We find that many unemployed graduate does not have the opportunity to participate in the NDE programme,insufficient funds,political interference,corruption and lack of access to loan are among the key factor militating against the success of the programme.

What are NDE techniques? ›

NDE technology refers to an array of non destructive techniques (NDT) and processes to monitor, probe and measure material response. The measured response is related to a desired material property or test object attribute by interpretation. The main NDT methods are: Visual inspection. Liquid penetrant inspection.

What are the challenges of NDE? ›

The 3 Challenges of NDT & NDE 4.0
  • Relevance Of Learned Skills.
  • Leadership Hesitation.
  • Insufficient Awareness.
Jul 10, 2020

Can you get PTSD from a near miss? ›

Near miss experiences predicted higher levels of reexperiencing symptoms and probable post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as maintenance of reexperiencing symptoms over the next 3 years. These associations were partially accounted for by survivor guilt.

How do you live in the moment and stop thinking about death? ›

Here are my 4 tips on how to stop worrying about death and start enjoying life more:
  1. Accept That It's Going to Happen by Meditating on Death. This seems like a no-brainer, but it's the first step. ...
  2. Focus on the Things You Can Control. ...
  3. Set a Worry Time Period. ...
  4. Live Every Day Like It's Your Last.
Sep 5, 2019

What is a good death experience? ›

According to an Institute of Medicine report published 19 years ago, a good death is one that is “free from avoidable distress and suffering for patient, family, and caregivers, in general accord with the patient's and family's wishes, and reasonably consistent with clinical, cultural, and ethical standards.”9 This ...

Which signs would you notice if the end of life is near? ›

Common End-of-Life Signs
  • Breathing Difficulties.
  • Drop in Body Temperature and Blood Pressure.
  • Less Desire for Food or Drink.
  • Changes in Sleeping Patterns.
  • Confusion or Withdrawal from Others.

What is the most common symptom seen at end of life? ›

Periods of rapid breathing, and no breathing for brief periods of time, coughing or noisy breaths, or increasingly shallow respirations, especially in final hours or days of life.

Can hospice tell when death is near? ›

Your hospice team's goal is to help prepare you for some of the things that might occur close to the time of death of your loved one. We can never predict exactly when a terminally ill person will die. But we know when the time is getting close, by a combination of signs and symptoms.

What are the two main causes of death? ›

Summary. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally. The second biggest cause are cancers.

What are the 2 types of death? ›

There are two types of death that can be declared: Heart/respiratory death and brain death. The first type of death means an irreversible stopping of heart and lung function, whereas brain death means an irreversible stopping of brain function.

What are the 4 types of death? ›

The classifications are natural, accident, suicide, homicide, undetermined, and pending. Only medical examiner's and coroners may use all of the manners of death. Other certifiers must use natural or refer the death to the medical examiner. The manner of death is determined by the medical examiner.

How do you know if you are shutting down emotionally? ›

Symptoms of emotional detachment

People who are emotionally detached or removed may experience symptoms such as: difficulty creating or maintaining personal relationships. a lack of attention, or appearing preoccupied when around others. difficulty being loving or affectionate with a family member.

What are physical signs your body is releasing trauma? ›

Some may have a fight-or-flight type of response, which may include muscle tension, heart pounding and sweating because their body "believes it needs to activate," she explains. Others maybe experience a freeze response, which can look like someone who struggles to move or get out of bed.

What are the signs of emotional trauma? ›

Emotional trauma is recognizable by a persistent sense of unsafety and other challenging emotions such as fear and/or anxiety. It is often accompanied by other physical symptoms as well, such as chronic insomnia, nightmares, and other health issues.

How long after death can you hear? ›

"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.

What happens minutes before death? ›

Physical signs

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.

What happens the first 5 minutes after death? ›

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.

Where is trauma stored in body? ›

Ever since people's responses to overwhelming experiences have been systematically explored, researchers have noted that a trauma is stored in somatic memory and expressed as changes in the biological stress response.

How does a person with PTSD behave? ›

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.

What is the biggest symptom of PTSD? ›

Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD. This is when a person involuntarily and vividly relives the traumatic event in the form of: flashbacks. nightmares.

What is the state of unemployment in Nigeria? ›

In 2021, the unemployment rate in the Nigeria remained nearly unchanged at around 9.79 percent. Still, the unemployment rate reached its highest value in the observed period in 2021.

What is the meaning of National Directorate of Employment? ›

National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is committed to employment, poverty reduction, wealth-creating, and attitudinal change to enable Nigerian Youths to be self-employed and contribute to the economic growth of the nation.

What are 3 basic types of destructive testing? ›

The most common types of destructive testing methods are: Aggressive environment testing. Corrosion testing. Fracture and mechanical testing.

What is the most effective NDT method and answer why? ›

ECT is among the most commonly used NDT options for a wide swath of applications due to its ability to detect surface and near-surface flaws quickly and accurately without interfering with the design form of the tested item.

What happens to the brain during the dying process? ›

During death, your body's vital functions stop entirely. Your heart no longer beats, your breath stops and your brain stops functioning. Studies suggest that brain activity may continue several minutes after a person has been declared dead. Still, brain activity isn't the same as consciousness or awareness.

How do you calm down after a near miss? ›

First off, when it's safe to do so, pull over and turn off your engine. You may need some time to compose yourself; unless there's a medical emergency, don't let other drivers or passengers rush you. This may be as simple as taking a few deep breaths or counting to 10 to calm down.

What is vehophobia? ›

Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | November 6, 2022 | Car Accidents. Vehophobia is the fear of driving. This fear often follows scary car accidents and can result in the loss of independence for accident victims.

How do you deal with near misses? ›

How to handle near misses at work
  1. The employee logs the incident and the potential hazard.
  2. The employee notifies their superiors about the near miss.
  3. The responsible people investigate the incident to find the cause.
  4. Once the cause is identified, actions are taken to remove the risk.
Sep 28, 2022

How do I calm my mind of death? ›

Overcoming Fear of Death: How to Treat Death Anxiety
  1. Exercise. Studies show exercise can help in the management of anxiety. ...
  2. Meditation. ...
  3. Talk Therapy and Support. ...
  4. Change Your Habits. ...
  5. Learn to Spot When You're Getting Anxious. ...
  6. Exposure Therapy. ...
  7. Seek Professional Support. ...
  8. Get Therapy.
Mar 25, 2022

How do you cope knowing you are dying? ›

Living with dying
  1. One step at a time. What you're dealing with can feel overwhelming, but you may be able to make it feel less so by thinking about it as smaller "pieces". ...
  2. Write down your worries. Some people feel helpless and that everything is out of control. ...
  3. Look after yourself.

What are the 5 attitudes towards death? ›

The DAP-R measures death attitude on five subscales, namely, fear of death, death avoidance, approach acceptance, escape acceptance, and neutral acceptance. The scale approaches death attitudes from the point of positive emotions (death acceptance) and negative emotions (fear of death and death avoidance).

What are the 12 principles of a good death? ›

It identified 11 core themes of good death: preferences for a specific dying process, pain-free status, religiosity/spirituality, emotional well-being, life completion, treatment preferences, dignity, family, quality of life, relationship with the health care provider and “other.”

What to expect before someone dies? ›

Pulse and heartbeat are irregular or hard to feel or hear. Body temperature drops. Skin on their knees, feet, and hands turns a mottled bluish-purple (often in the last 24 hours) Breathing is interrupted by gasping and slows until it stops entirely.

What is the third stage in the process of death and dying? ›

Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What is the third stage of death called? ›

The third stage of death is biological death. This is when the organism as a human entity, no longer exists. Artificial feeding tubes or life support systems may be provided to the keep the patient alive.

How long before death do hallucinations start? ›

Days Before Death Symptoms

When exhaling, they may “puff” their lips. They may also begin to cough more frequently, but in general, the congestion itself is painless. During their last days, your loved one may begin to experience hallucinations in which they talk to people who aren't there or who have also died.

What are the 4 stages of death? ›

Of these, with obvious mortal damage to the body, the textbook conclusive signs of death clear to a lay person are: algor mortis, rigor mortis, livor mortis, and putrefaction.

Why do dying patients hold on? ›

Why does someone hold on when dying? Dying persons may try to hold on until they feel a sense of security and completion. Picking, pulling, and fidgeting behaviors may also be seen. This can result from medications, metabolic changes, or decreased oxygen to the brain.

What hospice does not tell you? ›

What Does Hospice Care Not Include? Hospice care does not include curative treatment. The goal of hospice care is to provide comfort and support rather than to cure the disease. Hospice may not include medications you have grown accustomed to taking, such as chemotherapy or other medical supplements.

What is the last breath before death called? ›

Gasping is also referred to as agonal respiration and the name is appropriate because the gasping respirations appear uncomfortable, causing concern that the patient is dyspnoeic and in agony.

What are the signs 6 months before death? ›

in the last 6 to 12 months before death, people with a pro- gressive, debilitating disease commonly experience certain physical symptoms. many people, as they approach the end of life, will become less active and experience chronic fatigue or weakness. Weight loss and diminished appetite are also common.

When someone is dying are they aware? ›

Many people lose consciousness near the end of life. But they may still have some awareness of other people in the room. They may be able to hear what's being said or feel someone holding their hand.

What is the most common symptom at the end of life? ›

Pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, incontinence, constipation, delirium, and restlessness are just a few signs that a loved one is going through the dying process.

What organ shuts down first in dying? ›

Your brain stops. Other vital organs, including your kidneys and liver, stop. All your body systems powered by these organs shut down, too, so that they're no longer capable of carrying on the ongoing processes understood as, simply, living.

What happens 30 minutes after death? ›

As the blood pools, patches appear on the skin within 30 minutes of death. About two to four hours postmortem, these patches join up, creating large dark purplish areas towards the bottom of the body and lightening the skin elsewhere. This may be less apparent on darker skin. This process is called livor mortis.

How long does death stage last? ›

The active stage of dying generally only lasts for about 3 days. The active stage is preceded by an approximately 3-week period of the pre-active dying stage. Though the active stage can be different for everyone, common symptoms include unresponsiveness and a significant drop in blood pressure.


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