For many, the greatest mystery in life is what happens after death – what, if anything, awaits after we take our last breath? Others, however, are more concerned with the more immediate practicalities.
What does the dying process look like? Is there a consciousness that remains in the moments between this world and what comes next? Is it like the experience of falling asleep, a slow drift into nothingness, or are we aware of getting rid of this death spiral?
“Dying is a unique experience for the individual and their loved ones,” says Dr Patrick Steele, palliative care specialist at Victoria’s Palliative Care South East.
“There is much more than physiological changes that contributes to the experience of death.
For example, a person’s personality, disease burden, support from family and friends, duration of terminal illness, and spirituality.
There are, however, certain physiological changes that occur at all levels.
“Regular breathing patterns can change,” he continues, “sometimes they can be faster than normal, and other times slower. In the last days, there can be periods when there are long intervals between breaths Breathing can become noisy at end of life This is a build up of waste/secretions from the body This is often more distressing for those listening than for the individual who is dying .
A study published earlier this year in Frontiers of aging Neurosciences found the brain can remain active during and possibly even after the time of death.
Doctors were performing continuous electroencephalography (EEG) on a patient who had developed epilepsy, when the patient had a heart attack and died in the process.
This allowed them to trace the activity of a human brain during death, and they discovered rhythms of activity similar to memory retrieval, dreaming, meditation, and conscious awareness.
This, speculated by study organizer Dr. Ajmal Zemmar, a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville, could mean that the idea that our lives “pass before our eyes” as we die is valid.
“As a neurosurgeon, I sometimes deal with loss. It’s indescribably hard to announce the death to distraught family members,” he told the Frontier News blog.
“Something we can learn from this research is this: Although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to let us rest, their brains may be replaying some of the most beautiful moments they have had in their lives. .”
Originally published as Our brain can ‘relive happy memories’ when we die