At the end of life

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

Generally, people eventually 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’re at home and anything happens that worries your carers, for example, if you have pain or other symptoms that are difficult to control, your carers can contact your district nurse, specialist nurse or GP. 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 present and may want to carry out particular religious practices. It’s important to do whatever you feel is right.

There’s more information about this period for carers, relatives and friends on this website. You may 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

In the last few weeks

During the last few weeks of life, you may experience a number of emotional and physical changes and symptoms.