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Have you noticed that a few hours prior to death, the patient will suddenly experience an improvement?
and then, after about 12-24 hours deceases?
What could be the cause?

I have witnessed this in neonates, adults, and even animals.
Additional Details
Yes, health wise.
Yes, i cannot generalize on every patient's death, but on average, and yes, i put it here because a lot of cancer patients are cared for by family and not hospice.

wow. i never knew this

Not really, in my experience, she got alot worse and started fitting and couldnt recognise who anyone was.

one life
They usually stop eating, urinating, drinking of their own accord, and are tired, asleep/unconscious?

Maybe its purposely to use their last bit of energy because they wont need it if their dieing.


it gets everybodyyd hopes up

Emmanuel M
No I have never experienced this kind of phenomena ,all i know is that when i person die his urine comes out

omg thats really cool! i have never noticed that before! its very cool that you mentioned that!

My personal feeling is that right before death a person will be at sudden ease because they have found peace in their life and with God, or other religious figures. I feel this way because not everyone experiences this quick "nirvana" before death because not everyone is at peace with their lives or their God(s) at their time of death. My grandmother struggled the last two years of her life but days before she passed she was very happy in the worst condition of her life i know it is because she made peace with God and herself.

Ryan I
Its a mystery !.!>>~~~ ooooooh. but i think its their last push to do their do. or say goodbye before they pass

It isn't actually an 'improvement' . . more of an alertness . . possibly chemical as the body tries to sustain life by sending as much oxygen to the brain and vital areas as possible . .when that 'energy' is fully depleted . . the body dies.

Wendy G
While this does not happen all of the time, it does happen.

My uncle had a heart attack and was improving. The doctors were going to release him from the hospital the next morning and that night he sat straight up in the bed, took a deep breath, laid his head back down and he was gone.

We may never know the answer...

Maybe it's because the patient wants to send the impression that they should be reminded as being well and not as suffering/sick..

It is called rallying. There condition improves to a certain extent. They may start eating better, might wake up and start talking, they may have contractures and then they are able to fully extend their extremities.

I have seen this (as a nurse) a few times in the adults I have nursed. There are many thoughts as to why this happens. It could be that with all the medicines such as strong Morphine based pain killers and sedatives that the person really does feel peaceful and pain free. It could be the fact that they know they are close to death that it gives them the final energy to see loved ones and say goodbye.

This is a true phenomenon, but it doesn't apply to everyone. Some people just keep going downhill. The "surge of energy" that some patients experience before death is usually related to brain swelling. It's tough because the family thinks that the person is getting better. It's hard for health care providers to explain to the family that this is just a passing phase, and that death is close by. It can be extremely difficult for the family to accept... I mean, their loved one was just lying there a few minutes ago, not knowing who anyone was and not speaking, and all of a sudden they are alert and oriented. Grieving families look at this as a sign that they are improving and that they might pull through, but really it's just the body response to brain swelling.

Right before my bunny died, he gave 4 big Hops and then he stoped and then he die, he was an older rabbit thou

Yes. There is this surge that runs through the body and brain, and because the patient always knew when the time is up, they tried very hard to let people know that they are ok. And then afterwards, all the strenght that was in the "surge" are used up so quick - then death comes next. Especially in cancer patient.

You are generalizing. Not always. Most times (whether severe trauma or terminal illness) most patients digresses to lack of function, respiratory, circulatory failure and death.

I have seen it happen, but no doctor could explain why this happens.

♥honesty ♥.•´ `*.¸ ♥
yes, In my dads case we definately noticed an improvement in him a couple of days before he passed, although he had lung cancer and we knew it was terminal his passing came very sudden... on the wednesday evening i went to see him and he seemed in better spirits and just looked better than he had done in weeks... I came home very happy about it... then on the Friday at 4.30 he passed over.
It seemed very cruel to me... that he should start to feel a little better before his passing.
But thats cancer for you... a very cruel disease!

could this be the case that a person with cancer on life support could wake up just before they die? Interesting question.

Proud momma of 2
That was kinda the case for my grandmother, she past a couple months ago.
They told us one day she was getting better and things were looking up. Then the next day they told her everything was getting worse again and that she had about 12 more hours to survive. Then they called us that night and told us she was dead.

Now for my great grandfather, grandfather, other grandfather, uncle, step father, and great grandmother that wasn't how it was at all. They just kept on getting worse and then they died. Well actually with my great grandfather he pretty much died of old age, his body just shut down. He was 90 years old.

I have seen plenty die in my family as you can see and for me that isn't how it works at all ... they always get worse before they die they never get better. If they do get better they of coarse go back to worse before they die.

[email protected]
yes, i have noticed this.
it can't be true for every cancer patient, but it does seem to be a trend of some sort.

it's an interesting phenomenon. it's as if the body is giving it's last fight.

Yes, That is usually the case in many cases. It has not been explained.....

Yes! My one grandmother had a stroke, and was sick for about 3 years. There was a point where the family all got together because it appeared to be her last day. They waited and waited, and she survived the day, and at one point, she seemed to get better than she was for the previous 3 years. Unfortunately she died the next morning. My other grandmom was sick with a heart condition, and near the end, she never wanted to eat. Then a few hours before she passed away, she was very hungry and thrilled to eat her favorite food! Chipper and everything. With regards to animals, the dog next door had suffered from pancreatitis, and was suffering for about 2 days with a bad bout. At one point, he started running around and acting like all was fine. Unfortunately he got worse and they had to put him to sleep a few hours later, but your theory holds true again - at least for the limited experiences I had with death. To answer your question, I have no idea what the cause is (sorry). I just wonder if they body tries one last time to use all its energy in one big spurt to "repair" itself...

This happened to my step-dad. He fought the spreading cancer for 2 years. Knowing he would die, he & my mom decided to remodel an old duplex back into a one family home. It took almost a year (we kids did most the work).

The day we said it's done, he said Amen. He had a less painful day & died in my mom's arms that night.

I think it is acceptance of death & a huge relief is felt which must affect the perception of pain during those last hours.

I've been a paramedic for 14 years and I've never seen people "improve" before death.

If someone who is very sick tells you in a calm voice "I'm going to die" believe them. They will be dead within the hour. It's like they know. I've seen it so many times before. Or if they have suffered SERIOUS trauma, hold their hand out to yours and say "Please don't let me die" they are going to die.

carl the wise
it is true! My father too improved greatly a day or so before he died of throat cancer! It gave me a false sense that he was finally getting better. I have no Idea what made it happen but I witnessed it myself. He suffered for months and just layed in bed at home until a day or so before he passed away When he got up came out and socialized with people visiting and just seemed to be his normal self. Only to pass away in my arms little less than 24 hours later. :0( I am thankful to have that one last day. Could it have been a gift from God. I really don't know?

I have witnessed it. I don't know the cause, tho. My grandma was dying of cancer. She was bedridden in the hospital in her final days and hadn't spoken in weeks. She was pretty much unresponsive at all. The day before she died, we had made our usualy daily visit. We said goodbye as usual, not expecting a response. Before we made it to the door, she said "bye" as clear as a bell. Stunned, we turned looked at her, and her eyes were wide, alert and looking at us.

Perhaps the dying patient subconscienciously knows they are about to die and want to see or speak to their loved one.

Edit: thinking back, it also happened with my dog. He was very very sick, the vet had called on Saturday evening to say that he seemed better, was taking water and sitting up. He even looked better when we went to visit him. We got a call the following Monday a.m. that he had died sometime Sunday night.
My 2 cents

Yes, in the medical journals its called:
The final surge of energy

Often when people are dying, they will reach a period of time when it
seems they're getting better. Your loved one may wake up and may be
able to communicate with you. These surges can last for a few hours to
a few days. Though it can be confusing for you to see your loved one
with renewed vitality, keep in mind that this is a normal part of the
dying process, and your loved one may not actually be getting better.
He or she may soon return to illness. The final surge of energy is
often a good time to gather your family and close friends to say final

I saw this many times as a cancer doctor. During my career over two thousand people died from malignancies. (I know it sounds terrible, but this is what happens when you are a cancer specialist no matter how hard you try to save people.) Many died in the hospital before hospice and home care became so common. I was with many of these people in the last 24 hours and often at the last moment. It was uncanny how often people would rally a bit - - become more coherent and able to talk with family members before slipping back into unresponsiveness. (Most people who die with cancer are not aware at the very end.)

I don't have a good explanation for this. We used to think it was appropriate adjustment of the opiates /Morphine often employed for comfort near the end - - but I suspect the answer is more complicated. It does seem like a last rally of the spirit.
As others have stated it isn't true for all. It is a small minority in my experience - - but it always seems surprising and memorable when it occurs.

One thing an experienced cancer care person learns is to tell when death is close. That was when I tried to contact family members to come in for their last visits. Often that is when the rally would occur, so perhaps it was the presence of loved ones for the last time that sparked the temporary improvement.

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