Understanding the experience of dying: What does it feel like?

what happens when you die

Similar to childbirth, death is a physical process with distinct phases and an identifiable trajectory. The speed of the procedure varies from person to person, much like birth. To make dying (or giving birth) as secure and peaceful as possible, medical assistance is occasionally required. Most people get less interested in eating and drinking as death draws near. This is natural; when meals become overwhelming, spoonfuls of “tastes for pleasure” may still be appreciated.

People who are dying frequently lack vitality. Many of us have encountered extreme fatigue brought on by sicknesses, such as the “can’t get out of bed” state brought on by a bad case of the flu or debilitating fatigue following surgery. Normally, sleep gives us energy and can help us recuperate, but as we become older and closer to death, sleep starts to have less of an influence.

The amount of time a dying person is awake decreases over time. But what appears to be sleep eventually transforms into unconsciousness for longer and longer lengths of time. People claim to have slept soundly and without feeling unconscious when they wake up.

The moment has come to switch to drugs that don’t need to be swallowed while the patient is awake if the dying person relies on them to control any symptoms. You can employ skin patches, syringe pumps, or even suppositories. It’s vital to understand that the dying process itself, not the drugs, frequently results in unconsciousness.

What happens in your final moments?

As death approaches, the heart beats less vigorously, blood pressure drops, the skin cools, and the nails darken. As blood pressure lowers, internal organ function declines. There may be times of unease, moments of bewilderment, or just slipping into a deeper and deeper sleep. There is no tested method for determining what people go through when they are dying. The unconscious brain reacts to sounds in the room even when the person is near to passing away, according to recent studies. However, we are unsure of how much sense music or voices make to someone who is dying. The respiratory centre in the brain stem creates automatic patterns for breathing in persons who are not conscious. People who are dying may breathe loudly, heavily, or via saliva at the back of their throats without showing any signs of suffering because they are oblivious to their mouth and throat.

Breathing goes through repeated cycles of going from deep to shallow and from quick to slow; ultimately it slows and becomes extremely shallow; there are pauses; and, at last, breathing stops. The heart will eventually cease beating a few minutes later due to oxygen deprivation. Recognizing the stages of common dying also enables partners to grasp what they are experiencing, to be less fearful of improbable complications, and to feel confident enough to call for assistance should symptoms necessitate medical intervention in order to permit “safe” death.

Cultural and Spiritual Perspectives on Dying

Different cultures have different attitudes towards death and dying, and these perspectives can impact the dying experience. Some cultures view death as a natural part of life, while others may fear it or see it as taboo. Religious and spiritual beliefs also play a significant role in how individuals view death and dying. Beliefs about the afterlife, reincarnation, and other spiritual concepts can impact the dying experience. Rituals and traditions can also provide comfort and meaning for dying individuals and their families.


Dying remains a mystery, and we may never fully understand what dying feels like. However, by exploring the physical and emotional experiences of dying, hearing from those who have experienced it firsthand, and considering cultural and spiritual perspectives, we can gain some insight into this profound experience. Understanding what dying feels like is crucial for providing end-of-life care and comfort, and discussing death openly can help to reduce fear and anxiety around dying. If you or a loved one are facing the end of life, there are resources available to help support you through this challenging time.


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