What happens when someone is dying?

You may wonder what the dying process involves - what actually happens in the very last days and hours of a person's life?

This process is unique to every single person. It is not always possible to:

  • know for sure that a person is in the last days of life;
  • predict exactly when a person will die;
  • know exactly what changes the person you are caring for will experience when they are dying.

There are certain bodily changes that signify a person is likely to be close to death. It is normal for these signs to come and go over a period of days, and if they do go, this does not usually mean that a person is recovering.

Some of these changes may be distressing, but the information in this section may reassure you that many of these changes are not unusual, and suggest how you can help or seek guidance. As a carer, if any of these signs do start to overwhelm or distress you, you may wish to take a break and leave the bedside for a period.

It's important to think about your own feelings as well as those of the person you are caring for.

Find out more

What signs are there that a person is in the last days of life?
The person's final moments

What does hospice care mean to you?