Chapter 2: What can I do?

Families in conflict

Every family experiences conflict. This can come about because of past hurts, unresolved issues or difficulty communicating. When family members come together at the end of life, sometimes for the first time in years, disagreements are common. Conflict can arise when:

  • The nature and extent of the illness is not fully understood by all family members.
  • There are disagreements about the treatment decisions.
  • Family members who are newly involved struggle to find their place.
  • Family members who have been the direct care providers and decision makers try to make room for others.


Requesting a family meeting with the health care team is often helpful.

The goals are to:

  • Give family members the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns.
  • Provide support.
  • Make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Agree on a plan of care.