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The Moments Before Death: Insights from a Hospice Nurse on 4 Eerie Experiences

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Julie McFadden, a hospice nurse, shared four common phenomena that occur before someone dies. These include visioning, where the dying person sees or speaks to a deceased loved one, terminal acidity, a burst of energy before death, the death reach, reaching out as if to grab or hug someone, and the death stare, where the individual stares off into space. These occurrences are common enough to be regularly witnessed by families of hospice patients. McFadden believes that these events are a normal part of the dying process and part of providing education and support to families during this difficult time.

What happens right before people die? Hospice nurse shares 4 chilling phenomena

This image shows an individual holding an old person’s hand. — Pixabay

Throughout history, numerous shows have depicted the end of an individual’s life, but have you ever wondered what it truly looks like when someone is about to die?

Julie McFadden, a Los Angeles-based hospice nurse, recently shared a list of “normal” things you may witness when visiting a loved one in hospice care, Daily Mail reported.

She says doctors “don’t know what’s causing these things, but we do know that they happen often enough that we have to really educate families about them”.

Here are the four phenomena that happen right before one dies.


McFadden explains that visioning means when a dying person would see a loved one who had already passed away or have conversations with them a few weeks before death.

McFadden claims that visioning is “the most common” phenomenon in the medical field.

She believes that visioning is a real phenomenon and that she is simply “educating about something that really does happen all of the time at the end of life.”

Terminal Acidity

According to McFadden, “terminal acidity”, which is a short burst of energy before someone dies, happens in “about 30% of all of our patients” .

She said: “So, someone’s very sick, burst of energy only for a couple of days at most, and then they die.”

Although the cause behind this phenomenon is unknown, it occurs frequently enough that visiting families are cautioned about the possible consequences.

The Death Reach

The death reach is precisely what it sounds like, which may surprise people who are witnessing it.

McFadden says that this is when someone reaches up “like they’re seeing someone and grabbing someone or hugging someone” before passing away.

The Death Stare

McFadden explains that when a person’s life is about to end, their eyes are open but they are still lucid enough to stare off into the corner or part of the room.

She said: “Sometimes they’re smiling when they’re doing it. Sometimes they’re talking to someone while they’re doing it, and they will just not get out of that stare.”

According to the nurse, the “death stare” is completely normal. She also said that, as a healthcare worker, she won’t attempt to break the stare if her patient is comfortable and happy.

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