Many adjustments occur in a person's body as it progresses through the stages of death, including withdrawal, visions and hallucinations, loss of appetite, changes in bowel and bladder abilities, and alterations in breathing, explains Kokua Mau, a hospice and palliative care organization. While these are commonly observed in people who are dying, there is no definitive sequence of events or stages that every person follows. Health professionals suggest that the dying process varies according to the reason for death.
In the time preceding death, a dying person often becomes less responsive to touch and voice and slips in and out of wakefulness, states Kokua Mau. Although there may be times of lucidity that convince observers a recovery is imminent, recovery is unlikely. It is important during this time to approach the person dying with a gentle voice and a soft touch and to avoid trying to distract the person from the difficult process of preparing to die.
As death approaches, people often experience visions of loved ones who have died, according to Kokua Mau. During this time, a dying person may center on another world, including having conversations with people that others do not see. This is frequently a source of comfort and should not be discouraged in an attempt to bring the person back to a different version of reality.