What Are the Signs That Death is Near?

Many people experience some or all of the following signs as they near death: however, not everyone will show these symptoms.

Their skin may appear mottled or blue. Their fingers or feet may feel cool to the touch, yet not be cold.

Breathing becomes irregular and rapid. Breath may sound raspy or gurgly; this condition is known as Cheyne-Stokes respirations; after pausing for several seconds before taking another breath.

Loss of Appetite

In the final days of life, it is common for a person to cease eating altogether or show no interest whatsoever in food. They may even lose the ability to chew or swallow properly – this is part of the natural dying process and should pass over time as body tissues break down. When people stop eating altogether or show decreased thirst levels, drinking fluids such as fruit juices, ice pops or chips may help provide needed hydration; alternatively try offering cool water-soaked washcloths patted gently against lips as an aid for maintaining proper hydration levels.

As death nears, people become less responsive to attempts to wake them up; some may simply go back to sleep after attempts are made to wake them. They will also likely not show any interest in eating or drinking anything during this period.

Your loved one may become less engaged with activities or people they once enjoyed as their body responds to changes. While you can still show them love by talking with them privately and showing your concern, most likely all contact will occur quietly and privately. But you should still tell them you care by reminding them how much you value their presence in their final days. You may still talk with them quietly.

People nearing death often hear a rattling sound during breathing due to saliva and mucus accumulation in their throat or airways, often known as a “death rattle” or terminal secretions.

People’s skin may develop mottling due to an inadequate heart pump, leading to cells not receiving sufficient oxygen. Hands and feet often show this sign first; however, other parts may also experience the symptoms.

As someone nears death, they may become disoriented and confused, speaking without making sense or accusing loved ones of theft or other misconduct. While this can be distressing for family members to witness, it should not be taken personally and is no sign of guilt on anyone’s part.

Changes in Breath

Cheyne-Stokes respirations is an indicator that death may soon come, with irregular breathing or gasps for air before continuing their regular breath patterns again. Family members must understand this phenomenon to provide comfort to loved ones as much as possible and may begin coughing or spitting up mucus themselves.

As someone’s oxygen levels drop, their senses become impaired. Over time, their enjoyment in people and things they once found enjoyable may wain; they may sleep more or refuse to eat or drink anything but water. Sometimes people will experience brief moments of improvement when they become more alert and can interact with loved ones more freely; this is an ideal opportunity for having conversations about what matters in life while assuring your loved one they’ve the love and support of family members.

In their final days and weeks of life, skin on hands, feet and knees may become discolored or mottled due to reduced circulation; paler or grayer complexion with waxen or purple patches of skin appearing may occur as blood flows away from these areas of concern.

As people nearing death become less aware of their senses, hallucinations is not uncommon. A dying individual might notice shadows appearing or insist someone is standing there, hearing thunderclaps which they mistake for baby crying noises, or hearing claps which they misinterpret as thunder claps – these illusions caused by sensory changes as the brain prepares to shut down.

At such an unfortunate time, their loved ones must take great care in meeting all medical needs for them and making sure they feel comfortable. Reassuring them that everyone is there to care for them may help as much. Even though the individual may not be able to respond directly back at them they still hear you and should know they have their loved ones around them.


As someone nears death, their skin may begin to show signs of mottling. Mottling refers to patterns of spots, streaks or blotches with various hues or shades, usually occurring on lower body parts such as feet or hands but sometimes appearing elsewhere such as lips and nose. Mottling occurs as blood circulation drops out and often signals imminent death.

As well as mottling, a person’s skin may also start feeling cooler to the touch as blood circulates away from hands and feet and toward vital organs – this causes them to feel cold to touch as their blood flows toward vital organs instead, leading to them appearing pale as circulation decreases further down their extremities.

As circulation declines in a person’s body, their lips and throat can become dry and cracked, so it is vital that they drink sufficient fluids like juice or water to ensure a proper hydration regimen is available to them. In addition, losing taste sensation may reduce consumption rates as a person loses the desire to consume as much fluids.

People nearing death may also experience hallucinations as their oxygen supply to their brain declines, often seeing or hearing things that don’t exist and leading to them believe someone else is present in their room. These hallucinations could range from seeing something you don’t remember seeing to simply walking into walls without realizing why! These symptoms are caused by decreased oxygen to their brain which results in sleepwalking and dreaming-like experiences as well as believing someone else is actually in there with them.

Family members need to understand what signs they should look out for if a loved one is nearing death, in order to provide comfort and support during this difficult period. Recognizing these indicators allows families to be better prepared and provide their loved one with optimal care; keep in mind, however, that each person experiences unique symptoms as they near death; therefore these signs could vary between individuals.

Loss of Consciousness

As someone’s death nears, their brain may begin to shut down and they lose consciousness. While this may be distressing for those caring for the dying, this process is quite common because when oxygen stops reaching the brain cells it dies off resulting in cell death.

Loss of consciousness prevents an individual from responding to external stimuli such as noise, light or touch; their breathing stops altogether and they have a rapid heart rate. When this occurs, loved ones can revive them through mouth-to-mouth or chest compressions; this practice is known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Note that this doesn’t always portend imminent death; many can experience periods of clarity at the end of life that can surprise family and friends who think their condition has worsened.

People may experience hallucinations that they cannot explain, such as hearing voices they can’t see or seeing objects that don’t exist or feeling things they cannot touch. While such experiences may be terrifying for those experiencing them directly, others may find them comforting.

Illusions and hallucinations are caused by sensory changes in the brain as the body nears death. A dying person might see a lamp in their room as someone standing there; or hear thunderclaps but interpret it as the sound of baby crying instead.

At its final stages, someone may experience mottled skin patches on certain parts of their body as an indication that blood is no longer reaching all tissues and this could result in cooling of hands or feet.

As each person experiences their own individual set of symptoms, some signs might not present in everyone or last as long. Being familiar with these indicators will enable you to support loved ones when they start losing consciousness; the more knowledge you possess will allow you to be there during their final moments.