Facing the end of life

One person is holding the hand of another person who`s ill If your condition gets worse you may believe, or you may have been told, that you are approaching the end of your life. This can be a shock and may make you feel very sad, scared or angry.

Talking about dying

If you can, try to talk to someone about your feelings. If you’re finding it hard to talk to your family or friends, ask your GP or nurse to help and visit Dying Matters for advice on how to begin these conversations.

Although it can seem tough at first, making plans for the future and sorting out practical matters such as your will, finances and care can be a very positive thing to do. It’s a good idea to start thinking about how you would like to deal with the end of your life as soon as you feel comfortable doing this.

By having conversations and making decisions while you are relatively well, you can help make sure that your wishes are taken into account.

Find me help

You can find help that's local to you through the Dying Matters service help.dyingmatters.org. It offers links to local services including practical care or emotional support.

It's useful if you are looking for help for yourself or for someone you care for.

Thinking about what care and treatment you would like

You can state your wishes about what care you would and would not like in the future in a document called an advance statement. This would be used if there is a time when you are unable to express your wishes and views yourself. You can also nominate someone else to make decisions if you can’t. 

An advance decision applies when you want to refuse medical treatments, for instance if you do not want professionals to attempt to resuscitate you should you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. It would only be used if you are too ill to speak for yourself and it means that your family or friends do not have to make difficult decisions on your behalf.

If you want to make an advance statement or an advance decision, talk to your GP or heart failure nurse.

If you have an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) then you may wish to talk to your doctor or heart failure nurse about whether to deactivate it. This will stop it delivering shocks, which can be uncomfortable and distressing.

Making a will

Everyone should have a will, not just those facing advanced illness. Making a will can help to bring you peace of mind and is very easy to do. Organisations like Age UK and Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with this.

You might also find it useful to talk about and plan your funeral. Talking to family and friends about this can make sure your funeral reflects your wishes, your life and can make a difficult time easier for your loved ones.

Caring for someone with a terminal illness

If you're caring for someone who's approaching their end of life you can find more information and support on our caring for a heart patient page.

More help and advice 

If you want more help and advice you can call our Heart helpline on 0300 330 3311. Phone lines are open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday. 

Or email us your questions by using our online contact us form