Chapter 6: As death nears

The rally

He just seemed better for a few hours. He tried to sit up and talked to me, just a little. But I kind of had a part of my husband back, just for a little while before he died.

Sometimes when patients are near death, they may experience an improvement in alertness and interaction that cannot be explained. Although temporary, this may give family an opportunity to share thoughts or important feelings with the person who is dying, sometimes resulting in very meaningful connections in the final days.

Such unexpected and puzzling fluctuations in alertness can be exhausting for family members, who have been preparing themselves for losing their loved one. They may doubt the credibility of healthcare professionals who have been indicating that death may be soon. Usually a specific cause for these brief rallies cannot be determined, and supporting the family in enjoying this time together is the most helpful approach.