One hospice nurse uses social media to talk about an uncomfortable subject: death. Her videos capture how beautiful a person’s last moments can be. In addition to caring for their basic needs, she also provides spiritual and emotional care to her patients when they are close to the end. It’s all a part of the cycle of life.
The nurse, who goes by Julie on social media, has been working in the industry for nearly two decades. She worked in the ICU for nine years before becoming a hospice nurse.
“I love educating patients and families about what to expect with hospices and what to expect with the specific disease they are dying from,” she said. “I also really like giving the patient and family some comfort knowing we will be there to manage their symptoms.”
“The best part about my job is educating patients and families about death and dying as well as supporting them emotionally and physically. Also, helping them to understand what to expect is another part of my job as a hospice nurse.”
In one of her most recent videos, she describes what happens to a person right before they die, including changes in consciousness and skin color, unusual breathing patterns, and secretions from body parts, or what she calls the “actively dying phase”.
But she wants people to know there’s no reason to worry. “These are normal and not painful or uncomfortable,” she said. “Our bodies take care of ourselves at the end of life – the less we intervene, the better.”
“There is something most people say before they die, and it’s usually ‘I love you’ or they call out to their mum or dad – who have usually already died,” Julie said.
However, she points out that each individual is unique.
Julie also clarified several misconceptions people seem to have about hospice care, such as that morphine makes people die faster or that everyone in hospice care dies immediately, which she said isn’t true.
“There are some assumptions that people make. Another one that’s completely not true is that hospices kill people,” she added.
In a recent interview, Julie told reporters that she first decided to share her experiences with hospice care on social media about six months ago, but she wasn’t astonished at how quickly her page went viral.
Since then, she takes the time to answer people’s questions about death and what happens during hospice care.
“I knew I had a lot of interesting information about death and dying that most people don’t know about. I want to normalize death by educating people about it,” she said.
It all started when she noticed her young nieces using social media.
“I went home to visit my family, and my tween nieces were on TikTok making dance videos. I later went on TikTok to see their dances. This gave me the idea of starting my own TikTok about death and dying, four days later I did it and it took off,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for six months now and have over 340,000 followers – it’s crazy!”
She also posts tips for those caring for a loved one at the end of their life, including keeping them safe, clean, and comfortable, not forcing food, meds, or water, and caring for their mouth. She encourages caregivers to let the patient be their guide as their body goes through the natural process.
Her fans appreciate all the knowledge she’s spreading online.
“This is the stuff we all need to know before we get to this bridge, for ourselves, our elders, our future humans ❤️ thank you hospice nurse Julie ?,” wrote one user.
“I’m learning so much from you. I wish I had all this information when my father was in hospice 4 years ago,” wrote someone else.
Check out her amazing videos on TikTok to learn more about hospice care.