When you are told you may be nearing the end of your life, you may find yourself reflecting on your life, relationships, and wanting to talk through your thoughts and feelings.
You may find yourself thinking a lot about the past. You may talk about good times and less good times you have had. You may want to:
- see old friends
- think about places you have visited
- visit some places again, if you are well enough
- look through photos or journals.
You may also think about the future and grieve for a time when you will no longer be here.
You may have difficult relationships with some people and want to talk to them. You could try writing to them or phoning them. You could explain your illness and why you are contacting them. You could ask them to contact you or visit.
You may also like to:
- write letters to people who are important to you
- record a voice message or video to be given to them after you have died
- write down your family history for the next generation
- make a scrapbook for your children or grandchildren
- think about what you would like to happen to any social media accounts you have
- think about giving a list of your passwords to someone you trust, so they can manage any personal accounts and social media accounts.
You may find it helpful to get support. This could be from a counsellor, a chaplain or family support services. They may be able to help resolve more difficult issues.
Memory boxes can be a helpful way of passing on memories to your family and friends. They can include messages and letters, a piece of jewellery, photographs, or a present to mark a special birthday. If the memory box is for a child, they may want to help you make it and fill it with special items.
We have more information on making a memory box.
Towards the end of life, you might think more about religious beliefs or spiritual feelings. Thinking about the end of life can sometimes challenge what we believe. You may find you want to think and talk about what life means to you and explore your own experiences and beliefs.
Spirituality can be expressed in many ways. This could be through music, arts, nature, or how you relate to your family or community.
You might find comfort in prayer or meditation, or in knowing that other people are praying for you. But you may also start to question your faith, especially when you are suffering.
You may find it helpful to talk through your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. You only need to share as much as you want to, at a time when you feel ready. You can choose who you want to talk to and who you feel will be able to support you. This may be a close friend or family member.
You might feel calm about the fact that you are going to die. Or you might be scared and find it hard to talk to family or friends about it. You may prefer to speak with a spiritual or religious leader. This could be a chaplain, priest, rabbi or imam, depending on your faith or preference. They can offer emotional and spiritual comfort and help you feel more at peace with your situation.
It may still be helpful to talk to a religious leader even if you are not religious. Hospital and hospice chaplains offer spiritual support for anyone. It does not matter what your beliefs are. They are used to dealing with uncertainty and being with people who are distressed. They can also be very good listeners. Hospital and hospice chaplains may be able to help you cope with your thoughts and feelings.
If you prefer to talk to a non-religious person, Humanists UK have volunteers who can provide non-religious pastoral support.
There are also meeting places called death cafés, where you can talk with other people about death. The meetings offer a safe place to express fears and concerns about end of life care. They are led by someone who helps guide and support the conversation. They are usually held in places like libraries and shopping centres. Your local hospice may be able to tell you where and when death café meetings are being held in your area.