- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Common questions about dying
- How will I know that the end is near?
How will I know that the end is near?
For many, dying is a process that happens gradually. As the body slowly shuts down, energy levels vary and there are good days along with days when you can’t do much at all. Your appetite will reduce, and sips of water or a teaspoon of food here and there may be enough.
As death gets closer, it’s common to have little interest in talking and the outside world. You may find your attention withdraws from family and friends, and you may sleep more and more during the day.
Near the end, some people may require sedation for symptom management. Many people slip into unconsciousness before dying, although some remain alert almost until the end. Others may have periods of being awake, and then slip back into unconsciousness.
No-one knows how a dying person experiences the moment of death. Whatever happens, it is thought to be a peaceful moment.
For more on the dying process, see Caring for someone nearing the end of life.
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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