At the end of life

The thought of death nearing can be very frightening. Although death is a normal process, it’s natural to worry about what will happen.

For many people, dying is very peaceful. You’ll usually slip slowly into a deep sleep and find that it’s difficult to wake up.

Generally, people gradually become completely unconscious. They can’t be woken at all, but may still be able to hear and be aware of the people around them. Some people have phases where they are awake and can talk, and then slip back into unconsciousness.

If you are at home your carers can get advice and support from your district nurse, specialist nurse or GP. They can help with any symptoms that are difficult to control. They can give you medicines to control your symptoms, either as an injection or through a syringe driver. They can also discuss any concerns that you or your carers have and reassure you.

You may want to have a religious or spiritual adviser with you and you may want to carry out particular religious practices. It’s important to do whatever you feel is right. We have more information about this period for carers, relatives and friends which you may find helpful. You might want to read it together.

Working together to create information for you

We worked with Marie Curie Cancer Care to write our End of life information.

Thank you to all of the people affected by cancer who reviewed what you're reading and have helped our information to develop.

You could help us too when you join our Cancer Voices Network.

Back to Understanding what will happen

The last few weeks of life

During the last few weeks of life, you may have emotional and physical changes. Your healthcare team can help you cope with these.