End of Life

Donate to HFAEvery person is different, and the paths to death will vary. This section describes a general picture of what to expect before, during, and after the dying process. Hospice Foundation of America hopes to equip you with enough knowledge and understanding of the dying process to guide you through your journey. 

Myths about Dying

Many pervasive cultural misconceptions about dying exist that can interfere with people receiving the best possible care at the end of life. This handout helps to debunk these myths and allow caregivers to better support dying persons and their loved ones.

What to Expect Before Death

  • A Caregiver's Guide to the Dying Process 
    Many people who are caring for a terminally ill person have never done it before. This guide prepares caregivers by discussing both the physical symptoms of dying and the psychological issues that accompany the dying process. It may also be used by hospices and other end-of-life organizations as a helpful training aid for staff and volunteers. 
  • Signs of Approaching Death 
    Sometimes caregivers do not know how to tell when their patient or loved one is dying. But patients often tend to show specific symptoms when they are nearing death. This handout describes many of these symptoms.
  • Emergency Profile
    This material will help to anticipate what rational decisions will need to be made in times of crisis. 
  • Advance Care Planning
    This section provides an understanding of advance care planning, advance directives, living wills, and health care surrogates, as well as information on identifying health care preferences.

What to Expect After Death

  • Grief
    When we lose someone we care about, whether that person is a beloved family member, friend, or patient, we will grieve. Every person's journey through grief is different. HFA provides numerous resources to help anyone who is dealing with the loss of a loved one. 
  • Correspondence details and logistics 
    After the death, loved ones will be faced with overwhelming logistical details and paperwork. The person(s) responsible for taking care of these details will need to correspond with appropriate organizations, institutions, and businesses to inform them of the death of the family member. 

Pain & Patient Comfort

  • Myths about Pain
    The biggest obstacles to effective pain management are the misconceptions that surround the topic of medication, opioids, and pain relievers. Once we clear up these myths, patients will receive better care and will spend their last days as comfortably as possible. This handout helps to expose myths about pain.
  • Nutrition and Hydration
    This handout helps to clarify why physicians sometimes withhold nutrition from those who are dying.