The Silent Scream, Grimaces, and Scary Faces As We Die... Why?

Dear Barbara, I can’t get mom’s last minutes out of my head. Just before she died it was like nothing of this earth. It was like she was possessed, a silent scream, totally distorted facially. Have you seen this horror before?

What you described had to be scary for you. Yes, I have seen facial expression changes in the moments before death. Scary faces, grimaces, silent screams. What do I think it is? Here are my thoughts:

There is a labor to dying. It is hard work for us to get out of our body (some harder than others). Think of the little chick that works, struggles to get out of its shell. As we, humans, are dying we are working, struggling also to get out of our bodies. We, the watchers, see the hard work and don't know how to interpret it. As someone who has seen a lot of dying moments I see that struggle as often intense and unexplainable.

I don't think anything bad is happening. Those facial expressions and movements can be ugly and disconcerting but you were witnessing the final release, the final attachment to the physical being let go.

I don't want you to carry that image as something bad. I want you to understand it was optics we can't explain, distortions of the body as it was releasing its hold on this earth.

I can only say from having been at the bedside of hundreds of people that your mother's facial expression was not unusual. I describe it in my booklet Gone From My Sight or my book The Final Act of Living as a grimace or a frown. More detailed descriptions of faces I've seen could be a silent scream, or facial distortions that a Hollywood producer could use in a horror film.

The other side is I have seen smiles, beautiful, peaceful faces. What I learned from seeing all the various moments of death is it doesn't matter what they look like or why. What we are watching is a struggle to end this life connection, to get out of our physical shell. It's like childbirth in reverse. For some the baby just pops out, for other's, mom has to scream and push for hours.

I do not believe your mother would want you to be concentrating on her last moments and forgetting the good moments of her life. Here is an exercise for you: every day write down one good, beautiful, meaningful memory you have from the many years with your mom.

I don’t want that memory of your mom to overshadow all the good.

I assure you nothing bad or evil or even unusual was happening.

Something More... about The Silent Scream, Grimaces, and Scary Faces As We Die... Why?

I wish that more families were educated on what the dying process looks like and what to expect. More patients and families would experience a sacred death. Their grieving would be normal and not complicated. If you are not offered end of life education, ask for it.

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My mother at her death said, ‘oh no!’ and started boxing at the air. There was definitely in my opinion something present I could not see but believe she could, and tried defending herself. She seemed scared and surprised. Can you help me understand? I shiver when I think it was an evil entity when she was so loving of Jesus and Mother Mary in her lifetime.

BK Books replied:
Hi Pete, no evil entity at your mother’s bedside. That final push to get out of the body takes a lot of work and manifests itself in many ways, often scary ways, as we the watchers look on. Just picture some women and the struggles and distorted movements and facial expressions they go through to push the baby out. We often have to struggle and “push” to get out of our body. Nothing bad is happening. Blessings to you. Barbara

Chuck labelle

Can you further elaborate on:the “death scream” as my father did when he died? Can people see Azrael when he comes for them? Can people feel thier soul being pulled out of thier body at the last by the Grim Reaper ? Why do people thrash around, curse, swear, howl, shriek, on thier death bed? Can people feel thier descent into the Underworld at thier moment of dying? Thanks for your time to answer me.

BK Books replied:
Oh Chuck, that’s pretty negative stuff. I don’t believe it is the negativity that is causing the anguish we often see in those last moments. I see that as the struggle to get out of our body much like we struggle (go through labor) to get into this world. Blessings! Barbara


Why not give the dying, and the family, a dignified and peaceful death by sending them off to sleep gently…must they fight? My dad went easy. He was in hospice and wasted away. I insisted he be put on a morphine drip as I did not want him to be aware of his situation. I did not want him to suffer panic or anxiety. He took a deep breath and let go….my poor mother on the other hand looked like was desperate and I guess they had to be sooo careful they don’t kill her! Spare her and her family the agony of watching “trying to escape her body.” We treat dogs better. Maybe it’s time to rethink this. Not every dying person wants to be “present” at the final moments. Some would rather be in a dreamlike state feeling no pain no fear when they cross over. Nurse said she was aware of what was happening but felt no anxiety. I know my mother and I wish I could believe that. Cause just a little more and we’d be SURE my mother had the peaceful death I promised her. People get too used to this “dying process” but some of only go through it once or twice and it ruins the experience for everyone involved. We have drugs to ensure peaceful passings. Why would we withhold them? What’s the downside? Relieve suffering whenever possible. Suffering is not good.
BK Books replied:
Thank you Kris for sharing your perspective. Blessings! Barbara

Nancy P'Pool

Oh how my heart smiled after coming across this page . My Mom died 14 years ago on Nov1 with a long term illness . I was holding her hand and telling her I would be ok.. she had the scariest face and I knew she was saved and scared she did not cross over to heaven but I now know her expression was sadness at leaving us ! Thank you with a grateful ❤️ for helping!!!
BK Books replied:
Hi Nancy, the final grimace upsets so many watchers. I’m glad you were able to find out what was really happening. Knowledge helps us with our grieving when we know, “Yes, that was normal. Nothing bad was happening”. Blessings! Barbara


I am so glad to read this. I lost a Friend recently and was pained to see her looking angry almost like she had been deeply sad or crying,yet I’d been told she just died peacefully. I couldn’t cope with that. If she died peacefully why would she have this look in death? I think from people’s experiences given here, there is a person sent to receive us at the last moment,and because we are in the door between both worlds, some of the messengers are people we fully know to be dead, and maybe some as they were in life, simply want to take us forcibly,while others are gentle. I can’t get any other reason for people seeing someone or something we don’t at death, yet some smiling and welcoming it/them, and others being reluctant or all, we can only hope and pray for a peaceful “leaving”.
BK Books replied:
Nye, thank you for your comments. I just look at all the different facial expressions as part of the labor to get out of the body, some have an easier time than others (just like the labor to get here). Guess we won’t know for sure until it’s our turn. Blessings! Barbara

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