End Of Life Expert Explains How We Feel When We Die

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End Of Life Expert Explains How We Feel When We Die

A former palliative care doctor has assured death is 'probably not as bad as you're expecting' as she explained how we feel when we die.

Dr. Kathryn Mannix became well versed in end-of-life care thanks to 30 years in the profession, and used her expertise to write books titled With the End in Mind and Listen.

The doctor is an advocate for increasing conversations about dying, describing the process as the 'best kept secret in medicine' because some people consider it 'impolite' to discuss.


The prospect of dying is made easier for the person reaching the end of their life if everything is more upfront, Dr. Mannix believes, so in a video made for BBC Ideas she stressed it was time to 'reclaim the wisdom' of human dying.

"In my humble opinion, dying is probably not as bad as you're expecting," Dr. Mannix said.

The doctor likened dying to giving birth in the sense that it 'really is just a process', before explaining how people reaching the end of their life gradually 'become more tired, more weary'.


"As time goes by people sleep more and they’re awake less," the author explained, with patients slipping in and out of consciousness and describing having a 'good sleep' in their final days.

Though the prospect of slipping out of consciousness may sound scary, Dr. Mannix has assured it generally 'doesn't feel frightening' and can actually be quite relaxing.

Dr. Mannix believes we should talk about dying more often. Credit: Shutterstock
Dr. Mannix believes we should talk about dying more often. Credit: Shutterstock

"We'll be so relaxed that we won't bother to clear our throats, so maybe we'll be breathing in and out through little bits of mucus or saliva at the back of our throat. It can make a rattly, funny noise," she explained.


Some may fear the idea of so-called 'death rattle' breathing, but the doctor said this is actually a sign someone is 'deeply relaxed' and 'so deeply unconscious they are not feeling that tickle of saliva as their air bubbles in and out'.

When it comes to the last breath, Dr. Mannix explained: "At the very end of somebody’s life there will be a period of shallow breathing and then one out breath that just isn’t followed by another in breath.

"Sometimes it’s so gentle that families don’t even notice that it’s happened."

'Normal human dying', for example through old age, is what Dr. Mannix described as a 'really gentle process' and something that carers can 'recognise', 'prepare for' and 'manage'.


With that in mind, she expressed a belief it should also be something we can 'celebrate', and used to garner information we can 'console each other with'.

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Featured Image Credit: BBC/Alamy

Topics: News, UK News, Life, BBC, Health

Emily Brown
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