Updated date:

The Dying Process

I lost both of my parents to cancer. Here I share some of my observations about the dying process.

The Dying Process

At some point in time, we will all watch or go through the dying process. Each person and disease is unique, but the end result is the same. Family and caregivers do their best for their loved ones and want to give them the best care they can. We suffer right along with them as we watch them deteriorate. We want to help more—but the only thing we can do is pray.

The Inevitable Question

No one wants to ask it or even think about it, but it's that nagging feeling and voice inside your head that is wondering, how long? How much longer will my loved one be with us? I don't want them to go. Or, how much more will my loved one be suffering? Many of us may be afraid to ask the question—but at the same time, we want to know the answer so we can prepare ourselves.


There are many signs that tell us that death is near. Sometimes we think it is the medicines they are taking that is causing the symptoms, when it fact is is the disease that is killing them.

In Preparation For Death

After receiving a diagnosis of a terminal disease, one might start getting their affairs in order; for example, a living will, power of attorney, and a will. They may make amends with loved ones. They may want to see a priest or minister for their last rites and communion.

Two to Three Months Before death

You may notice your loved one requiring more sleep. They start to withdraw from friends, activities that they once enjoyed, and yes, even their loved ones. They may speak less and less, and they may eat and drink less, too. Food does not taste right. Sometimes they will crave a particular food but only take a bite of it and push it aside. This is a sign that the body does not need or want any nourishment.

One To Two Weeks

Your loved one may seem disoriented or confused, They may talk about going home or talk to people who have passed on. There is a change in vital signs; they can be warm and then cold. They may not take food or fluids at all. Their skin color may appear bluish and blotchy. There breathing sounds like a gurgle in their throat—this is called the death rattle. Sometimes you can barely see their chest rise up and down when they breathe.

Days to Hours

A sudden surge of energy, possibly wanting to eat or drink something, almost giving a false sense of hope that they are doing better only to be right back where you were the day before, They become restless, pulling at clothes or not wanting any blankets or clothes on them. They are not going to the bathroom as much since they are taking no fluids in. They have difficulty swallowing, there are long pauses between breaths. Their eyes glass over, and often they look like they are crying, as a tear rolls down their cheek. Their blood pressure decreases, and they sleep with their eyes half shut.


No longer breathing, mouth open. Unresponsive and eye color changes to blue.

Peace At Last

It was a long, hard battle that they fought. The end has come. It is bitter-sweet. A moment that you have been dreading, but perhaps also praying for. You want to cry, but you are happy that they are no longer suffering. Your loved one can now rest in peace.


oldersister (author) on September 20, 2014:

Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. Know that your mom is at peace. The greiving process takes some time for those of us that are left behind. But always remember that she will always be with you in spirit.

julie johnson on September 20, 2014:

for the last 4days of my mams life .she was just sleeping .with her mouth wide open .just before she took her last breath she opened her eyes and smiled .then went .does that mean someone came for her .she passed away 30 auguest 2014 .her passing was bueatifull .we could see she was in no more pain .

Lost a loved one on March 12, 2013:

Thank you for sharing. I too have just lost someone very close to me. Your article helped me to understand what they were going through. Thanks

oldersister (author) on March 21, 2012:

Thankyou Sally I am glad you enjoy them. Shannon you are right in saying that every situation is different, but knowing the signs can be helpful for the family members.

Shannon on March 21, 2012:

I think eveyones experience with dying is a little different but the signs are very much the same.

Good and informative information.

Sally on March 21, 2012:

Oldersister, You have been through a lot. Thank you for all your informative hubs. I enjoy reading them.

oldersister (author) on March 16, 2012:

Urmilashukla23 Thank you for stopping by, I try to write hubs about topices that have a special meaning to me. Most of my hubs are sentimental. Glad you enjoyed it.

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on March 16, 2012:

This hub is very sentimental! Very well written.

oldersister (author) on March 16, 2012:

I have been through this process twice. Once with my Dad and then again with my Mom. It is a very difficult thing to have to go through. I hope that this hub helps answer any questions you may have and have been afraid to ask. As much as you try to prepare yourself for the inevitable, it still hurts. Remember you are not alone, Grieving already started when your loved one got their death sentence, and it isn't easier after they are gone.

Related Articles