The Process of Dying

Before most funerals at funeral homes in Rockford, IL, there is a process that our loved ones go through as they make their passage toward death. It’s helpful to understand what the general stages of this process are so that we can be there for our loved ones all the way to their last breath.

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Although there can be some variations, the following stages of dying are experienced by the vast majority of terminally-ill patients. If you familiarize yourself with them, you’ll be able to recognize them, understand them, and then help your patient or loved one as they make their transition through each stage. Rather than seeing this progression as something strange or even fearful, you’ll be able to see it as normal and natural instead.

The first stage is often described as a gradual withdrawal on the part of the dying person. During this stage, the person slowly becomes less interested in the outside world and the things and people it contains. This happens even with things that may have previously given the person pleasure or been important in the person’s life. This gradual disengagement on the part of the dying person is not something to be alarmed at. Instead, it’s often a sign that the person is becoming more introspective and attentive to things inside himself or herself. This withdrawal is nothing to be alarmed about, but is instead an important part of the dying person’s journey through reckoning, acceptance, and peace.

Next, the terminally ill person starts to gradually lose interest in eating or drinking. Although at first it can be troubling or even somewhat frightening to witness, it’s important to remember that this, too, represents a stage of the dying process. In this stage, the person will feel less discomfort and distress if you do not attempt to coerce or force them to take food or liquids. At this late stage, such intervention is unnecessary and can even be painful.

This natural reduction in food and fluids results in physical changes in how the body processes output. For example, urine will appear darker or cloudy, or the patient may become incontinent in both bladder and bowel. When this happens, keep in mind that this is the natural result of this phase of dying. If the person feels any embarrassment about their incontinence, you can comfort and reassure them that this, too, is merely a natural part of the process.

During the next stage of dying, the person will often begin talking about visions they are seeing, or conversations they are having. The person might even speak about an upcoming trip he or she is taking. Again, the important thing here is not to argue, but to support and reassure the person as they transition through this stage. If they become restless or agitated, try to ascertain what is causing them physical or emotional discomfort.

During the final stages, the person will begin to lose color or appear “bruised” as circulation slows and the extremities cool. Breathing will become irregular and increasingly shallow. And though the person may appear to “rally” at times, gradually their breathing slows until it stops altogether, and a pulse is no longer discernible.

For more guidance on the dying process from funeral homes in Rockford, IL, our compassionate and experienced team at Collins & Stone Funeral Home is here to help. You can visit our funeral home at 128 S 5th Street, Rockford, IL 61104, or you can call us today at (815) 965-1515.

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