Chapter 6: As death nears
I thought how it would be okay if she stopped breathing – if she could just slip away like that, after breakfast.
In the final phase of progressive life-limiting illness, some
challenges and choices are unfamiliar and can seem overwhelming. This section offers
information about what might be expected as death nears.
Please remember that when an expected death is thought to be within hours or days, the focus of care is usually on maintaining the person’s comfort. Also, at this time, families may want to consider whether there are important cultural, spiritual, or religious rituals that need to take place just prior to death or at the time of death. If so, it is helpful to inform those who will be participating and coordinate with the healthcare team as required.
What may help
As death nears, it may help to talk to your healthcare team to ask about what you should do once the person has died.
Whom do you contact? The paramedics, the attending physician, the community nurse?
The answers to these questions will vary for each situation as well as for each province and territory, so it is important to talk to your healthcare team.
Asking ahead of time so you are prepared may also save you the frustration of trying to figure it out after the person has died.