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

There are several phenomena that happen when a person is about to die, and one of them is the ‘death stare’. A nurse explains what the ‘death stare’ is.

'death stare' nurse phenomenon about to die
© RDNE Stock project / Pexels
'death stare' nurse phenomenon about to die

Sadly, death is the one thing we all have in common. Science has not found a way to stop it but thanks to an improved quality of life and an advancement in science, people are living for much longer than before.

Discover our latest podcast

Even if doctors cannot stop death, there are sometimes signs that a person is about to take their last breath. Indeed, there is a phenomenon known as the ‘death rattle’ but did you know there is also a ‘death stare’?

A registered nurse in Los Angeles, US has shared on her YouTube details about the ‘death stare’ and what the signs are.

What is the ‘death stare’?

Julie McFadden is a 41-year-old registered nurse and she specialises in hospice care, which focuses on the care, comfort, and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life.

Julie has a YouTube channel where she shares insights and helps destigmatise the process of 'death and dying’, as per her website.

In one of her latest videos, she talks about the moment someone is about to die, their eyes ‘fixate’ on a single point. This phenomenon is known as the ‘death stare’. She explains that nothing can snap the person out of this fixation, as reported by Daily Mail:

and no matter what you do - you can snap your finger right in front of their face - and they will not move their gaze.

She also added that in some cases, the person will ‘talk to someone who you don't see’ and other times they will simply have a ‘big smile’.

Sometimes they just stare. Sometimes they will talk to someone who you don't see. Sometimes they'll have a big smile on their face, like they're seeing something that's obviously making them very happy. So that's called the "death stare."

The ‘death stare’ comes with ‘end-of-life visioning’

Julie McFadden also reveals in her YouTube video that the ‘death stare’ is often accompanied by what she calls ‘end-of-life visioning’. She explains that this phenomenon is where the person who is about to die claims they see someone they ‘love and know’ who has ‘already died’.

They will sometimes have conversations right in front of us with these people that we don't see.

In her video, McFadden recalled the story of an elderly couple who were in their mid-to-late 90s and had been married for 70 years. The man’s wife was his caregiver. Julie explained that she ‘loved these two’ and the elderly man was ‘pleasantly confused’.

According to her, the elderly man knew who his wife was and was polite with everyone but was unable to ‘hold a conversation’. She went on to reveal that this elderly man and been showing signs of the ‘death stare’ and ‘end-of-life visioning’ at his checkup.

I noticed that he would be looking at me and smiling, then suddenly turn his head and be fixated on another part of the room, and then smile this huge smile, like he was seeing something over there.

Julie also explains that both phenomena can start a few weeks or even a month before they die. The elderly man’s wife told Julie that he had been doing the ‘death stare’ for a week several times a day.

Read more:

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

These 3 medications cause the highest deaths in the UK, check whether you have them at home

Your brain is still active after your heart stops, study reveals truth about death

Sources used:

Daily Mail: ‘The TRUTH about the 'death stare': Hospice nurse lifts the lid on phenomenon that signals a person is going to pass away’

Hospice Nurse Julie

YouTube: ‘End of Life Visioning and the Death Stare’

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