Can You Tell When Death is Near?

Yes. No. Maybe. While there generally are common changes that take place as death nears, being able to predict the timing is not an exact skill. The most obvious signs will be changes in breathing pattern, and skin changes called mottling. Mottling is due to the heart rate pumping less forcefully to the farther extremities, feet, hands, knees, causing them to turn blue/purple in color and  feel cooler. Just observing a change in respirations or seeing mottling on the hands, feet or knees does not necessarily indicate that death is within minutes to hours. But it could. Normal breathing patterns are between ten and twenty breaths per minute, yet I have been witness to a person having one breath every 45 seconds with feet mottled live for days in this state, versus another person who was breathing at 5 breaths per minute without mottling suddenly change to barely breathing with very noticeable mottling followed quickly by death. Then again I have also been witness to persons on the very edge of death who then regained some semblance of a breathing pattern to live on a few more days. Know then, that the nurse will let you know whenever they can, and there may be understandably false alarms, but whether you get there, or whether it turns out to be a false alarm is just part of the process. I have been with family members who want to be there at the time of death and never leave the bedside for hours, only to get up to use the bathroom and their loved one dies. This happens often. I have  also had many experiences where someone is very close to death and family keeps telling them that so and so is on their way and the person doesn’t die until that person gets there. So, however it turns out for you, believe that when it happens, it will happen in the way that it was meant to be.

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