What to expect when someone important to you is dying

If you are caring for someone who is in the last stages of life, or who may be soon, this section of the website is for you.

It is designed to help prepare you for what to expect in the very last days and hours of a person's life.

It will help to answer three questions that you may have already asked, or are likely to ask at some point:

These web pages cover the main things you should know on these questions, and aims to point you in the right direction.

The final days of life are precious days, often remembered in detail by those who live on, and the priority is to ensure a peaceful and comfortable death with the right level of support for you and the person you are caring for.

Symptoms and emotions in the final days are often similar whatever the underlying illness - whether it is cancer, heart disease, lung disease or any other chronic condition.

If you have been involved in care up until the final days, then you may want to stay involved or you may want to step back and let others perform the physical care. You are part of the caring team and your voice should always be heard, and decisions shared.

Caring for your dying relative at home with COVID-19

Hospice UK Vice President Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, FRCP FRCGP FMedSci FLSW FHEA Hon Professor of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University and Bevan Commissioner, has authored guidance to help support people who are caring for someone who is dying at home from COVID-19 infection.

What happens when someone is dying

Caring for a dying person
Get some help and resources

About this section

The section has been produced in collaboration with people with experience of a loved one dying, health and care professionals, and representatives from end of life care charities.


Hospice UK is grateful to all who contributed to and reviewed this guide. The original development of the booklet, from which these webpages come, was supported by NHS England, and funded by the Health and Care Voluntary Strategic Partners Programme, run jointly by the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England.


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