Hospice nurse explains ‘scary’ things that happen to your body when you’re about to die

By Staff

Julie McFadden, 41, a registered nurse specializing in hospice care, regularly shares her insights to help destigmatize the process of ‘death and dying’

A hospice nurse has shared some startling facts about what happens to your body when you’re nearing the end of life. She has also advised on what items to keep close if a loved one is passing away. Julie McFadden, 41, is a registered nurse in Los Angeles who specialises in hospice care.

She has gained millions of followers on social media by sharing insights to help remove the fear and misunderstanding around death and dying. Recently, she posted a video on YouTube discussing what happens to the body when the heart stops beating. Julie explains why people might defecate, foam at the mouth, or yell in their final moments.

She also shared what items are good to have if you stay with a loved one during this time. She said: “The body can do some strange s**t at the end of life, which can scare a lot of people so let me explain why it’s happening and what we can do about it.”

The hospice nurse shared that our bodies have natural mechanisms to help keep fluids down. She explained: “So we all have sphincters in our body that keep fluids down, so basically in our stomach there are a lot of fluids that are help breaking down food those things are still being produced while someone’s dying.

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“It does slow down a bit but depending on someone’s disease – what they’re dying from – sometimes it’s produced more.” Julie pointed out that when you’re about to die, the sphincters begin contracting, causing the liquid to come up. “And that’s why when people take their last breath and die, some people will have a bowel movement,” she explained.

Julie added: “Another thing people may see coming from someone’s mouth and nose is foamy saliva.” She also noted that there are some measures you can take to help your loved one, including positioning them at a 90-degree angle or turning them to their side.

She also explained there are usually several telltale signs of someone’s last moments, including teeth grinding, growling, screaming, or yelling. She said: “One final yell, making a face that looks like they’re yelling but nothing comes out so like a silent scream. Death is messy,” she said.

Julie also gave some helpful tips on what items to have in stock if you’re caring for a loved one who is at the end of their life. She explained that keeping a sponge to clean the face, specifically around their mouths for the fluid, bed pads, and dark towels will make the experience marginally less traumatic.

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