Terminal lucidity: Hospice nurse explains this common phenomenon that happens right before you die

Hospice nurse Julie explains a lot of deathbed phenomenons on her YouTube channel. Lately, she's talked about one that happens as you're about to die: terminal lucidity.

terminal lucidity death phenomenon health nurse
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terminal lucidity death phenomenon health nurse

The topic of death has been fascinating humans for as long as we can remember. Whether we are worried about what comes next, or whether there really is an 'afterlife', others worry about what happens before we pass away. A hospice nurse called Julie McFadden took it upon herself to educate families about what happens before and after death on her YouTube channel. Today, we are looking into a common phenomenon known as terminal lucidity.

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What is terminal lucidity?

According to nurse Julie, terminal lucidity, also known as the Rally or the Surge, happens when someone very ill 'suddenly gets a burst of energy'. There is no clear scientific explanation as to why it happens, yet, but there are some theories. Indeed, some experts believe it is caused by a surge of cortisol or hormones in the blood.

Nurse Julie explains:

It happens very often. About one in three of all our patients will have terminal lucidity.

Because it is quite common, Nurse Julie's goal is to educate families about the phenomenon so they know to enjoy this burst of energy, as the patient is likely to die soon after.

According to Healthline, patients who suffer from dementia are more likely to experience terminal lucidity. They explain:

More than 55 million people around the world live with dementia, and it’s one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some patients experience a 'brief burst of mental clarity' right before they die, which can be misleading for doctors and loved ones alike. According to Healthline, terminal lucidity can also happen to patients who have suffered a stroke or certain types of cancer. The phenomenon can last a few hours, sometimes even up to a whole day.

Hospice nurse Julie explains her own experience with patients

Nurse Julie McFadden started her career as an ICU nurse before moving on to hospice care. This is where she learned about terminal lucidity, and was told to 'educate families about it', as it is not widely known. She explains in her Youtube video that she didn't believe in the phenomenon before she started actually witnessing it in her hospice patients before they passed away.

In her experience, nurse Julie explains the patients who go through terminal lucidity are suddenly hungry or able to walk, and they usually pass away about one or two days later. The phenomenon can be very traumatic for the patient's family as they expect the person to get better because they had this 'great day'.

Read more:

The ‘death stare’: Nurse explains phenomenon that happens when a person is about to die

Nurse reveals the most common last words and regrets of dying people

Death rattle: This is what happens to your body 24 hours before you die

Sources used:

YouTube: What happens on the Death Bed

Healthline: Exploring the Science Behind Terminal Lucidity

Visioning: Hospice nurse explains this common phenomenon which happens weeks before dying Visioning: Hospice nurse explains this common phenomenon which happens weeks before dying