Can people actually smell death?

Just let it happen - how does it work?

But dying is not beautiful, even if it is a “good dying”. The rattle of breathing in particular can frighten the relatives who are awake at the deathbed. "Because the strength is no longer sufficient to cough up liquid or mucus in the windpipe, these unnatural noises arise that sound as if the dying person is in agony," says Müller. Some want to suck out the secretion with tubes. But that is not advisable. "That makes it uncomfortable for the dying, it hurts or triggers gag reflexes." Letting go certainly does not make it easier.

And that is also part of the truth about “good dying”: death has a smell, sometimes that of urine or feces, because the dying person can no longer hold it. But like the rattling breathing, this is more of a burden for the environment than for the dying person himself. The advice of the dying companion: “All of this is normal and not threatening. Just let it happen! "

Just let it happen - easy to say. But how does it work? First, by accepting that the loved one, the friend, must die. And secondly, that one asks him: How do you imagine your end? What can we do to make it good? Dirk Müller asks this question very often and receives very different answers. "Some want everything medically possible to be done right to the end so that they don't have to leave yet." But very few of them are. “Most who feel death shouldn't be given any treatment. They don't want that at all. They say, well if it is God's will that it be good, then it is good. "

Müller asks: What can we do then to make walking easier for you? The answer: I want to die without agony! Then Dirk Müller has a comforting insight: There is indeed dying without agony, because palliative medicine and care have made great strides in recent years: pain keeps morphine in check, as does possible shortness of breath. Consistent oral care prevents you from feeling thirsty.

Take your time to say goodbye

In addition to medical and nursing know-how, there is a lot that laypeople can do for the dying. Dirk Müller gives a few practical tips: People should lie comfortably, not freeze or sweat and be able to breathe reasonably well. “So please don't pack with pillows and blankets!” The atmospheric aspect is just as important: if he loves sunlight, open the curtains. Play the dying person's favorite music if he likes music, hum his favorite song in his ear, say prayers if he likes to hear it.

And when it's done, take your time to say goodbye, says Dirk Müller. "Most people then call the undertaker immediately, they can be reached 24 hours a day and pick up the corpse within 30 minutes." But actually the virtue is: keep calm, give yourself time! "When I'm there, I make sure that we all sit down at the deathbed again, light a candle and take time to say goodbye." Only then do some people notice something that is important in order to process it : “Take a look, now he looks very peaceful. It's like he's sleeping. "

This is probably how most of them wish their deaths. Two thirds want to die at home, a survey by the hospice association shows. 18 percent in a hospice. But the reality is different: According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, seven out of ten people die in a hospital or nursing home. At home it is 23 percent and in a hospice or palliative ward only six percent. So does the majority in Germany die in agony in the wrong place?

“The place of death says nothing about the quality of death,” Dirk Müller is convinced. The seeming ideal of being allowed to die at home can prove to be a delusion. “You can also die degraded in your own four walls, ignored, parked in front of the television - we don't see that very seldom.” On the other hand, you can die well in a well-run hospital or nursing home. "Every nurse and every doctor must have the training to make this possible - and also the time to be able to accompany them in peace."

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