For Families & Patients

Palliative care supports people with a life-limiting illness and their families to live, die and grieve well.
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The process of dying

All of us will die at some point. It helps to have some understanding of the process of dying.

Generally, as a person gets closer to death, the body begins to gently wind down. There is less circulation of blood and a noticeable slowing of breathing and brain function. It is natural to sleep for longer periods and to refuse food and fluids. This is part of the gradual shutting down of the body in readiness for death.

Some people may become restless or agitated. There may be pain, confusion or breathlessness. Palliative care treats these symptoms to make the dying person as comfortable as possible.

The presence of family and friends can be very comforting; hearing their voices and feeling their touch.

Some people prefer to die at home. If this is the choice, discuss the help available with the palliative care team.

Every experience is unique. Palliative care can help to provide the best care so the person can die in comfort, dignity and with the support of family and friends.

Document

The process of dying

Dying is a natural part of life. This short leaflet explains what to expect, how to prepare and how to assist the dying person. It will be helpful for families and friends supporting a person who is dying. Published by Palliative Care Victoria, October 2018.

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