What to Expect in the Final Days and Hours
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​As a person enters the final stage of life, it can be a period of distress and emotions for all involved. The individual and family might be too upset to think or talk about things, and both try to “protect” the other by avoiding challenging conversations. However, having these crucial conversations and planning ahead, can lead to a better death experience (a “good death”). Health care professionals can participate with you and your family in these types of conversations, if desired, and assist as the final days and hours draw nearer.

The dying process

In the final phase of progressive life-limiting illness, patients and families face changes, challenges and choices that are unfamiliar and can seem overwhelming. Learn what to expect as death nears.

Both the person who is dying and those who care for him or her may have questions and concerns about what will happen physically and emotionally as death approaches

The final hours

There are some physical changes when a person is nearing death (minutes or hours), particularly in skin colour and breathing, that can indicate that the body is in the process of shutting down. These reflect the normal dying process, and cannot be prevented by medical treatments. Sometimes these changes can be concerning to those at the bedside, as we’re not used to seeing them. In this final phase, the person will almost certainly not be conscious, and will not be aware. 

Rituals to comfort families

Simple acts of caring are in themselves rituals. In difficult times, these acts may take on extra significance. They can become ways of ordering and calming the feelings that arise. Rituals can be a source of comfort for the family, caregiver and the one who is dying.

MoH     PCQO