End of life "gibberish" - are we missing something?


I was wondering if anyone else has paid attention to what many call "gibberish" as a patient approaches end of life...

I've had 3 unnerving cases where several days before the patient passed, they started mumbling. Totally normal most of the time...BUT, once I really paid attention, I realized they were saying 0's, 1's, and sometimes 3's over and over while looking in the air.

It seemed distinctly different than other mumbling. All of a sudden - numbers. Then, is stopped.

Does that make any sense or sound familiar to anyone else? Just these numbers over and over for a small period of time.

Hoping someone else has noticed this. I've looked on the internet and can't find similar stories.

I can't help but wonder if I'm missing something important.

Has 13 years experience.

I don't know what to say about the numbers. So often I see patients talking to loved ones who have passed on prior. I would like to believe that when it is your time loved ones who have passed before are around you.

Specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

I have seen patients recite numbers before, although they were generally not contained to only zeros, ones and threes.

The brain does weird stuff as it is dying.


1 Article; 2,188 Posts

Specializes in Home Care.

Well, at least there were 3s in there. If there had only been 1s and 0s then perhaps they were speaking in binary code. That would have been creepy.

Sorry...couldn't help it


1,131 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

Could have been giving you lottery numbers! I would playing them ASAP!

tntrn, ASN, RN

1,340 Posts

Specializes in L & D; Postpartum. Has 34 years experience.

My dad passed away recently. He didn't ever talk to anybody, but he "farmed" a lot. Having been a farmer all his life, he talked about needing wagons for corn, combines, water sprayers and hoses (had the call light cord coiled up in his hand, holding it in his lap), pitchforks and piles of hay...that kind of stuff.

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

My grandfather spoke the number "gibberish" during the last hours of his life. What I found out later is that he had been a supervisor in the boiler rooms at the local shipyard in his young adult years and his job entailed checking gauges all day. So I think perhaps he was checking his final gauges before his soul left this earth. Made more sense after I had that little piece of information.