30.5.1  Preparing for death

Encourage communication within the family. Discuss worrying issues and offer practical support in resolving concerns such as making a will, custody of children, family support, future school fees, old quarrels, or funeral costs.

Tell the patient that he/she is loved and will be remembered. Talk about death if the person wishes to, but keep in mind cultural taboos if you are not in a close relationship with the patient. Help the patient accept his/her own death. Ask him/her how they wish to die, for example with pastoral or religious leaders present, or with family only.

Make sure that what the patient wants is always respected.

Respond sensitively to the patient’s grief reaction to realising they are dying. This may include denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, anger, humiliation, despair, guilt, and finally acceptance. Make sure the patient gets help with feelings of guilt or regret. Keep communication open — if the dying person does not want to talk, ask ‘Would you like to talk now or later?’

30.5  End-of-life care

30.5.2  A checklist for end-of-life care