Death is a phenomenon known to everyone yet almost none of us really accepts this happening. We see people dying but none of us really accepts that we are going to die too.
According to Dr. Nina O’Connor, director of palliative care at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the first thing that happens when someone dies is that they become extremely focused on their family and the things that really mean to them. At this moment, people get thoughts on their deepest regrets. But that’s not the purpose of the idea, the main question that we’re going to narrow down to is what happens before and after we die. This question remains unanswered but now, thanks to Dr. I’Connor, today we’re going to solve this mystery.
Loss of Appetite
According to Dr. O’Connor, a person loses appetite when they’re about to die. There could be multiple reasons for this. Firstly, it could be due to the excessive catecholamine in the body that your body produces. This chemical suppresses the appetite. Another reason could be the lack of proper functionality of the intestines. This could suppress the appetite as the food remains in the stomach. Often this sign is recognized by people when their loved one refuses to eat.
Another prominent sign when someone is dying is slow moving. Dying people tend to get slower in talking. There are numerous but obvious reasons of this. It could be due to slower metabolism, due to the medications. According to Dr. O’Connor, pain killers are mostly the reason for this. An imbalance in the electrolytes could also be a reason for the slowed actions and sluggishness. Dr. O’Connor also introduces the concept of ‘death rattle’ in which, the dying people breath heavily. This is apparent when the person is unable to cough or swallow. It is not painful for the dying person but it can be really painful for the loved ones.
There are two types of deaths; cardiac and brain death. Often we see doctors taking the patient off the life support. This is because the patient’s brain has died. We often hear the term ‘vegetable’ for it. In such a case, that person is taken off the life support and the reason for this is that the person has died. She also mentions that the difficulty that arises due to the two types is, if the person dies of cardiac arrest, often times the heart stops but it restarts and then starts functioning normally.
Changes after Death
The first change in the body is the Rigor Mortis, according to Medscape. In this stage, the person’s body stiffens. Most often, this happens for a first few couple of hours after the person has died. Though Rigor Mortis can go as long as 24 hours after death.
After Rigor mortis, Liver mortis occurs. In this stage, purple red coloration appears on different parts of the body. This occurs because the blood starts to settle in the body due to gravity.
The next stage after Liver mortis is the formation of Tardieu spots. Its because of the rupturing of certain vessels in the body. According to Medscape, Tardieu spots are hemorrhages that develop in areas of dependency. The increased pressure along with the force of gravity, causes the vessels to rupture.
As we know, our bodies are warm due to the flow of blood. The blood keeps the body at the required temperature but as the blood stops to flow, when the person dies, the body starts to cool down, the temperature drops. This usually happens gradually after the death.
If the eyes of the person were not completely shut when they died. The Tache noire is expected to occur. According to Medscape, this happens due to post-mortem drying begins to happen. It’s a dark, red-brown stripe that can be seen across the eye.
Decomposition is the process of endogenous autolysis and putrefaction, according to Medscape. Autolysis is the process in which enzymes start to destroy the body cells. In putrefaction, the body starts to decay.
Coping with impending death
Gerald Shiener, a psychiatrist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, says that when a person knows that they are dying, it can be used as an opportunity to say the heart out and express the love that they had never been able to speak out loud. This can be a great way to cope with the impending death, preparing the mind for what’s coming. He says that if you know that you’re going to die soon, this can be taken as an opportunity to say the good byes in a very meaningful manner. One gets the opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones and reminisce all the good times shared.
Don’t Rush Mourning or Grief
When someone dies, the loved ones go through a tough stage. There are three stages of grief. The first stage is denial. In this stage, the loved one refuses to accept the reality. The next stage is full of anger. One feels helpless over the death of their loved one and their inability to do anything about it makes them angrier than they ever did in their life. This could be really frustrating. The third stage is acceptance. Now the person accepts the reality slowly and gradually. It takes a bit of time but eventually this phase gets over and the life gets back to normal. Everyone has their own schedule when it comes to the stages mentioned.
Let people in
Often the people deal with the second stage in a bad way. They take out their anger on medical facility or anything they can put the blame on and take their anger out on. Rev. Hanet Frystak, however, suggests that the right way to deal with this stage is by letting people help you. She says that an outsider can offer a more objective perspective. She also talks about an exercise, ‘life review’ in which the person grieving is advised to talk to the blood relatives about the memories with the dyed person. This exercise can help each member get over the deceased person.