Many people try to avoid speaking about the end of life. But not Julie McFadden, a California hospice nurse who has gone viral on TikTok for talking about just what happens at the end of life.
McFadden, maybe 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. More than 413,000 people follow her on this video-sharing platform.
McFadden said, “I was certain that I wanted information. McFadden said that she felt the topic was too taboo and should not be discussed. “I think I made like three or four TikToks and four days later, one of them blew up. This kept going on for a long time.”
One of those videos discusses a phenomenon dubbed “The Rally.” Hospice patients will suddenly seem like they’re getting better – many resume eating, some start walking again and others will talk or laugh.
However, the energy boost is brief-lived. Many patients pass away within days or hours of the “The Rally.”
McFadden states in the video, “It happens probably to a third of hospice patients.” “So much so that we try to educate the family about this before this happens so it doesn’t devastate them when they suddenly pass after doing so well for a few days.”
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The technical term for the occurrence is terminal lucidity, and it’s hard to know just how often it happens, said Dr. Christopher Kerr, a hospice physician for 23 years.
Kerr said, “I don’t think that there are really great numbers on it.” It is certainly not common, it can be said.
McFadden talks about other unexplained phenomena in her videos, including a occurrence where patients say they see dead relatives, friends and even pets up to a month before they pass.
McFadden shows how the experience is usually not scary for patients.
They find it very comforting. They will usually tell you that they want to send a message such as “We are coming to get your soon” or “Don’t worry.” McFadden stated, “We’ll help,”
Kelly Rice is the Tidwell Hospice’s senior coordinator for social workers. She said that she has seen both phenomena during her eleven years working with patients in hospice care. According to Rice, one of these experiences with patients has been a lasting memory.
“A gentleman who was clearly seeing babies. What I came to find out through his wife is that they had experienced several miscarriages early on, and they never did have children,” Rice said.
The experience is actually very common, according to research conducted by Kerr and his team.
“What we found is the vast majority of people, nearly 90% of people, in the last usually weeks of life, can report at least one very distinct experience, which is usually vivid, comforting and very meaningful,” Kerr said.
Rice explained that the same thing may not apply to all hospice patients. Their experiences can be very different.
McFadden said she has worked as a nurse for 14 years, first working as an intensive care unit nurse for “nine or 10 years” before transitioning to hospice nursing. It was in the ICU where she became passionate about death and wanting to educate others about it, too.
McFadden did not give out her name and place of work for privacy reasons.
McFadden explained, “I realized that there is a need to treat the whole person as well as determining what the family would like long term,” McFadden added.
McFadden said that the majority of her videos have received positive feedback. People are eager to find out more. It’s also connected McFadden with an entire online network of people who work in death-related jobs.
McFadden says that while most people can’t believe being this close to death they wouldn’t do anything else.
“To be able to provide somebody with answers and comfort and care and to help that process be easier, it feels like a gift,” McFadden said.