The end-of-life process is scary and confusing for many people. When it involves someone who is slowly dying from a disease, this process can be even more emotionally conflicting. This hospice nurse uses her TikTok channel to explain things about end of life and hopefully make death a little less scary for people. In one of her latest videos, she educates her followers on an unexplained phenomenon called “The Rally”. (1)
Hospice Nurse Explains “The Rally” On TikTok
Hospice nurse Julie McFadden has dedicated her life to helping people transition through to the end of theirs. She worked for 10 years as an ICU nurse and for the last five years in hospice. A big part of her job is preparing her patients and their families for that inevitable moment when they have to say goodbye. Her goal is to raise awareness and ease people’s fear surrounding death. Though typically this is a taboo topic, Julie says talking about it openly helps people feel less scared.
In one of her most recent videos, which has since collected millions of views, she talks about a phenomenon that hospice nurses know about that few others do. This phenomenon is called “The Rally”.
What Is “The Rally”?
The rally refers to the strange phenomenon when dying patients suddenly one day become just like their old selves. It’s as if they have someone healed. They seem, well, not sick. Julie says that this usually happens just days before they die.
“This can manifest in a lot of ways, but a lot of times they suddenly eat, they’ll suddenly talk, maybe even walk, they act like their old self, they have a little more personality, kind of laughing, talking, joking, but they usually they die within a few days after this,” she explained.
Julie says that in her experience, about one-third of hospice patients experience The Rally. She always educates the families and loved ones of her patients on it so that they won’t be devastated when that person passes after seeming so strong for a few days.
“I try to educate families before the rally happens, so if they see something like it, they know that the person could be dying soon after,” she explained. “This helps them to cherish the moment and not be shocked if their loved one dies soon after.”
What Does The Rally Look Like?
Julie says that there are different versions of The Rally – it is not the same for everyone. She says that for some patients it is quite drastic, while for others it is only a slight improvement. Hospice nurses learn about it during their training, however, it can still be quite shocking when you see it for the first time.
The Rally is also known as terminal lucidity. As already mentioned, it doesn’t happen to everyone. Julie anecdotally has seen it in about one-third of her patients. Still, that makes it quite common. Despite this, scientists really don’t have any way of explaining it – they haven’t quite figured it out yet. (2)
A study done by German and Austrian scientists found that about 10% of patients experience terminal lucidity, or “the rally”. They found that of those patients, 84% will die within a week. About 42% of those will die within 24 hours. (3)
Read: Heartbreaking image shows a horse comforting dying cancer patient and her masked little boy
Not The Only Phenomenon
In her video, Julie also spoke of a second phenomenon that is very common. She says patients often see their already passed-on loved ones leading up to their own death. This even includes deceased pets.
“It usually happens a month or so before the patient dies, they start seeing dead relatives, dead friends, old pets that have passed on, spirits, angels, that are visiting them and only they can see them. Sometimes it’s through a dream, sometimes they physically see them, and they’ll actually ask us ‘do you see what i’m seeing,'” she says.
Though this sounds quite scary, she says most of her patients who experience it are not afraid. Most of the time they are quite comforted by it. Her patients tell her that these people or spirits are telling them not to worry because they are going to help them. Often, they tell them that they will be coming to get them soon. Julie says that often the patient is surprised and may even ask why it is happening, or if their hospice worker can see the same thing they can. Some also are nervous about telling anyone because they don’t want to seem crazy.
She says she usually tries to explain to patients that they may experience this so that it doesn’t surprise them too much when it happens. In some cases, her patients will then inform her that it already has happened. This is why she doesn’t shy away from talking to her patients and others about the end-of-life process: It helps them more than not saying anything.
“What I have found is the more willing someone is to being open to talk about the end of their life, and their specific disease… usually the more peaceful the death.”
If you are lucky enough to have a dying loved one experience a rally, cherish it. It can be a precious few hours or even days. Let those be your last few memories of that person – as they were, with all of their personality and love that they always had.
Keep Reading: ‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children
- “Hospice Nurse Reveals Unexplained Phenomena That Happen Before Death Including ‘The Rally’.” Newsweek. Jate Fowler. November 16, 2021.
- “‘The clouds cleared’: what terminal lucidity teaches us about life, death and dementia.” The Guardian. Alex Godfrey. February 23, 2021.
- “Why Some People Rally for One Last Goodbye Before Death.” Psychology Today. Marilyn A. Mendoza Ph.D.. October 10, 2018.