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:

  • What happens when someone is dying?
  • What kind of care can a dying person expect to receive, and what kind of support can I, as someone important to the dying person, expect to receive?
  • Where can I turn for help if I am concerned about someone who is dying?

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.

Find out more

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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