I have been at the bedside of many, many people at their exact moment of death. Those people have taught me what happens in the hours to minutes before death. Just before they take their final two or three breaths most people make a facial grimace or frown. Once in a while I have seen a smile but usually it is a grimace. My belief, and I can not prove this in anyway, is that the frown or grimace is made at the actual moment the soul leaves the physical body, the exact moment the driver gets out of the car. Following the facial movement there are usually two or three long spaced out breaths, the rest of the air and energy leaving the body. 

I don't think the facial expression has anything to do with pain or discomfort. It may show a bit of ambivalence about leaving this world but mostly I think it is the expression of release, of the final letting go from the physical body.

When people are heavily medicated during their last hours to minutes they don't seem to show the grimace but either way, grimace or not, nothing bad is happening, nothing out of the ordinary is happening. The person has let go of the hold on the physical just like they are supposed to do. They are now free to go about a new journey. 

We often get very confused about the moment someone takes their last breath. We let our own fear of the moment distort our perception of what happened. We tend to put way too much thought into what the last moment looked like.

Please celebrate life, the joys, the legacy your loved one brought to the physical world. Fill your mind with good memories and let go of your concern for the moment of release. A death in this world is a birth into another world. You have witnessed a birth and the labor it entails.



When my brother recently passed away, he seemed to quit breathing and then his eyes opened up. He appeared to look right at me, then his eyes scanned the room. I had his wife come over beside him and then his face grimaced for at least 15 seconds. I wanted to think that he realized what was happening and was seeing all of us who were there with him and that maybe he was grimacing because he wanted to continue to fight but could no longer. He battled stomach cancer for 3 1/2 years when given 6 months. Even in the end while he was in the hospital, I don’t think he truly believed he wouldn’t go home again. It was my first experience with death and a little scary so I would love your input especially because he didn’t seem to breathe after grimacing.
BK Books replied:
Joanna, think of a woman giving birth, that final push to get the baby out—-grimaces, frowns, eyes roaming but not seeing. We go through labor to leave this world. There are the same struggles —grimances, eyes roaming, not really focusing or thinking. Your brother was just having that final push. Blessings to you and his wife. Barbara


For thoes who smiled we they devoted Christians? Does anyone know.
BK Books replied:
Hi Kim, there is no way to know the “why” of the smile. I don’t think religion plays into it. Fear, peace, resignation, dreams, yes. Religion not so much. Blessings! Barbara


When my father passed away from brain cancer I was 2 hours away. When I was able to get there, I was shocked to see his bro was furrowed, mouth closed and hands soft and warm. It gave me a feeling of him not really being dead. It still bothers me 8 years ater.
BK Books replied:
Oh, Mellanie, most of us are totally unprepared for what dying and death looks like. Our only role models are the movies and TV and that is not how people die. You might write your dad a letter and tell him everything you would have liked to say had you gotten there before he died. Let the words and the tears flow then burn the letter and scatter the ashes to the wind. Let how well you live your life be the tribute of your love for him. Blessings! Barbara


My husband of 33 years passed away after a 5 year battle with cancer. We talked very little about his passing but he mentioned a few times being a little scared. I told him when it was time , I would hold his hand the whole way and would not let go. He wold have to let go first. The time came and we were holding each others hand tight. He was pronounced dead by Hospice. I sat there a while still holding his hand but he never let go of my hand. A while later ( before rigor set in ) I found my self having to gently pry my hand from his. He didn’t let go. Why? This question has haunted me for 4 years. And has never been answered. My gut says he just didn’t want to let go of us. Others say he wanted to take me with him. I don’t think it is anything that profound, but.
BK Books replied:
Hi Stacy, I don’t know why your husband’s hand held on so tight after he died but here is my guess: during his labor (hours before actual death) he held on to your hand because it was there for him to hold, more automatic than intentional. When he actually died, no bodily functions, his hand stayed in that position, even tight, because that is where it was (muscles contracted) when he took his last breath. I do not think there was any message being given. What is special is not that his hand was tight after he died but that you were able to be with him and hold his hand while he died, a beautiful gift. Blessings! Barbara

Aaron C

I was with my dear mother when she took her last breath at 00:16 on jan 1st this year. As described, she grimaced, took 2 more long gasps and then was no more. I found it very upsetting to watch, but this article has given me a new perspective. Thank you.
BK Books replied:
Hi Aaron, thank you for sharing your mother’s last moments with me. I’m glad this information brought you comfort. Blessings! Barbara

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