Chapter 6: As death nears

Final physical changes

The expert says
Description to come(3:22)Video transcript

At the end, her breathing changed dramatically, so I called her doctor.

There are some physical changes when a person is just minutes or hours from death, particularly in skin colour and breathing, that can indicate that the body is in the process of shutting down. These reflect the normal dying process and cannot be prevented by medical treatments.

Sometimes these changes can be concerning to those at the bedside, as most people are not used to seeing them. In this final phase, the person will not likely be conscious and will not be aware. These normal changes are happening to the physical body and do not cause suffering.

Click below to read more about these changes in the order they tend to appear.

There may be very slight motions of breathing happening irregularly for a few minutes after the final breath. These are reflex actions and are not signs of distress.