Hospice Nurse Lifts the Lid On the “Death Stare” That Signals a Person Is Getting Ready To Pass Away

Hospice nurse Julie McFadden recently took to social media to share details about something that happens to dying people as they’re passing away. She explained that there’s an end-of-life phenomena called the “death stare,” when they become fixated on a single point in the room. “No matter what you do — you can snap your finger right in front of their face — they will not move their gaze.” She went on to explain that sometimes they just stare, sometimes they will talk to someone you don’t see, and sometimes they will have a big smile on their face, as if they’re seeing something that’s making them very happy. The death stare is often accompanied by what Julie calls “end-of-life visioning,” in which the dying person claims to see someone they love and know who has already passed away. “Sometimes, they will have conversations right in front of us with these people that we don’t see,” added Julie. She then shared a hair-raising story about an elderly man whose wife was his caregiver. He knew who his wife was and was polite to everyone, but in the midst of a conversation he would turn his head and become fixated on another part of the room. “Then he would smile real big, like he was seeing someone he knew,” said Julie. She spoke with the man’s wife, who indicated that he had been doing that for about a week. At one point, the wife asked her husband what he was looking at and his response was, “Jesus.” The man’s wife explained to Julie that her sister had passed away and she was trying to figure out how to tell her husband. After about a week, out of guilt, she decided to tell her husband that his sister-in-law had passed away. She was shocked when he said he already knew. When she questioned him about how he knew, his response was, “She came to me last week and said she had died.” Later this year, Julie is set to release a book titled Nothing to Fear, which is a comforting and informative guide that demystifies our end-of-life journey.