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Grief & Bereavement Issues

Signs and Symptoms of Approaching Death

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

While each dying person will experience the final stages of living in different ways depending on their illness or injury, there are a few common symptoms that often occur:

  • Changes in Sleep Patterns and Energy Level. You will generally be awake less and your energy level will decrease.
  • Breathing changes. You may experience periods of rapid breathing or even periods where your breathing stops for a few seconds before starting again
  • Hallucinations. It is not uncommon for you to hear voices or see people that aren't there.
  • Changes in Appetite. You will likely lose interest in food and eat much less than normal.
  • Emotional and Personality Changes. You may become withdrawn and depressed, talk less to others and become less interested in the world around you. Depending on your illness, you may even show personality changes. For example, dying people with Alzheimer's Disease (a form of dementia that causes people to slowly lose their memory and self-control), sometimes become angry, have outbursts, swear and yell.