Rallying Before Death: Why It Happens & What It Means

Published July 13, 2018
elderly mother in hospital bed talking to grown daughter

For a long time, researchers and caregivers were unclear as to why individuals rallied before death. Rallying seems to be a normal part of the dying process as it provides a burst of energy for the individual to tie up loose ends and come to terms with their death. Even though it may seem strange, rallying plays an important role in the dying process.

Why Rallying Happens

Rallying helps provide closure to the person who is passing away. Closure is particularly important for humans to experience. Human brains are even wired to seek closure. Although most literature on closure deals with breakups, the sentiment remains the same when it comes to the process of dying. Humans like to have control over their own story and have an understanding when events do not go according to what was anticipated. This evolutionary trait helps people learn, grow, and better predict future events which can provide some semblance of comfort. By rallying, the person who is in the process of passing away is able to resolve issues from the past, prepare for the uncertainty of death, and in general get their affairs in order. Some even liken rallying before death to the nesting stage that occurs during pregnancy when a woman gets a burst of energy right before the baby's arrival.

Signs Someone Is Rallying

elderly woman in bed at home talking to family member

You may notice a loved one seems to be more lucid and more physically capable, even if they've been deteriorating. You may feel as if they are getting better as their symptoms seem to be improving. Many caretakers noted this is incredibly common in the dying process and even found it hard to believe and shocking until they witnessed it firsthand. You may see them:

  • Preparing their will or other documents
  • Giving away gifts or belongings
  • Resolving arguments or conflicts
  • Speaking to a mentor or religious leader
  • Connecting with friends and family members
  • Looking for misplaced items
  • Wanting to assist with the planning of their funeral
  • Making arrangements for their pets after they have passed
  • Wanting to process their life story with loved ones
  • Wanting to discuss the dying process with loved ones
  • Wanting to visit favorite restaurants, parks, or other cherished spots
  • Trying to finish previously started projects

When Rallying Occurs

Rallying tends to occur in the final stages of death. In the final stages of death the body is shutting down and functions are steadily slowing. This could mean someone rallies just a day or two before passing away although it differs from person to person. This can be a bit confusing for family members who may be expecting the deterioration to continue, only to be surprised by their loved one's upswing. Know this is totally normal. This extra energy is helping your loved one process and come to terms with his or her death. Despite being tricky to understand, rallying can be a healthy aspect of the dying process. It helps your loved one tie up loose ends and may give them a sense of control when it comes to their death. This can be particularly healing for those who have sought treatments for illnesses but to no avail.

Understanding Rallying Before Death

It is completely normal for someone to rally before passing away. Despite being somewhat shocking to family members, this last minute surge of energy or clarity can help the individual say their goodbyes, reflect on their life, and process what is happening to them.

Rallying Before Death: Why It Happens & What It Means