Most people avoid talking about death at all costs. But not Julie McFadden, a California aged care nurse who went viral on TikTok for talking about what happens at the end of life.
McFadden, possibly better known as Hospice Nurse Julie on Tiktok and Twitter, started making videos on TikTok about six months ago after her nieces introduced her to the platform. She now boasts more than 413,000 followers on the video-sharing platform.
“I knew I wanted to get the information out,” McFadden told USA TODAY. “I think I made like three or four TikToks and four days later one of them blew up. It just kept repeating.”
One of those videos discusses a phenomenon called “Protests”. Hospice patients will suddenly seem better – many continue to eat, some begin to walk, and others will talk or laugh.
However, the burst of energy was short-lived. Many patients die within hours or days of the “Rally.”
McFadden said in videotapes. “So we try to educate the family about this before this happens so it doesn’t devastate them when they suddenly pass away after doing so well for a few days.”
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The technical term for this occurrence is ultimate lucidity, and it’s hard to know how often it happens, says Dr. Christopher Kerr, a people’s health practitioner for 23 years.
“I don’t think there are really good numbers on that,” Kerr said. “It’s certainly safe to say it’s not uncommon.”
McFadden talks about other unexplained phenomena in her videos, including cases where patients said they saw dead relatives, friends, and even pets a month before they passed away.
This experience is not usually scary for the patient, McFadden explained in her video.
“That’s usually very comforting to them,” says McFadden. They often say they’re sending a message like ‘We’ll see you soon’ or ‘Don’t worry. We’ll help you “.
Kelly Rice, senior coordinator of social workers at Tidwell Hospice, says she has seen both in 11 years of working with delicate patients. She said that one such experience with a patient has always stuck with her.
“One gentleman was seeing babies clearly. What I learned from his wife was that they had had several miscarriages and had never had children,” Rice said.
This experience is actually very common, according to research by Kerr and his team.
“What we have found is that the vast majority of people, almost 90 percent, in the last weeks of life can often report at least one very different, often vivid, pleasant and very meaningful experience,” says Kerr. means.
But what is true for one end-of-life patient is not true for everyone, and their experiences are often very individual, Rice said.
McFadden said she worked as a nurse for 14 years, first working as an intensive care unit nurse for “9 or 10 years” before transitioning into delicate nursing. At the ICU, she became fascinated with death and wanted to educate others about it.
McFadden declined to disclose his workplace for privacy reasons.
“I just see that there is a gap left in treating the whole person and really figuring out what the family wants the patient to really want in the long term,” says McFadden.
McFadden said the response to her video has been mostly positive. Most people were interested in learning more, and it connected her with an entire online community of other people with death-related work.
And while many people can’t imagine being near death, McFadden she never will.
“To be able to give someone answers and comfort and care and make that process easier, it feels like a gift,” says McFadden.