14 Key Tips to Help Someone Facing Death

Tips to help and support someone facing death

When someone is dying, they often need support from their loved ones to get through the process. If you are able to provide this support, it will significantly boost their quality of life. 

Death is often a taboo topic, but it’s something that we all have to face at some point in our lives. For those who are dealing with the impending death of a loved one, the process can be especially difficult. If you’re looking for ways to help someone who is facing death, here are 14 key tips to help or support them.

Persons who are dying often desire one, or both of these two things. Firstly, they yearn to find meaning from their own life/experiences. Secondly, they desire to be remembered.

As such, the best advice to support someone who is dying is to be present and listen attentively to discover what that person truly desires. Do they want to find meaning or are they worried about being remembered, or both?

Then, the ideal way to support them is by expanding their meaning of life or by helping them discover how to make an impact. Essentially, help them appreciate or create their legacy.

1) Allow the person to grieve their own losses

One of the most important things you can do when someone is going through a tough time is to simply allow them to freely express their thoughts and feelings. It can be tempting to try to fix their problems or offer advice, but sometimes listening ears is all they need.

This doesn’t mean that you should just sit there silently, though. Show that you are interested and engaged in the conversation by nodding your head, making eye contact, and asking questions. It can also be helpful to offer words of support or encouragement. Just remember to let the person lead the conversation and follow their cue on how much they want to share.

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2) Sharing fond memories together

If you know someone facing death, consider sharing fond memories. Preferably, you should write these down or even make a collage. If possible, you should also video record these conversations. After that person passes away, loved ones will be grateful to have these memories to cherish.

3) Consider writing an autobiography

Ask the person facing death to consider writing their life story to help them organize their thoughts and reflect on their life experiences. This can be a great way for someone to make sense of their life and find meaning in it.

It can also be therapeutic and help them process their thoughts and feelings. If they are having trouble getting started, you could offer to help by asking questions or providing prompts. Once the story is written, they may likely want to share it with others.

4) Express their feelings, fears, and desires

Help the person to identify their feelings and any special preferences. This could involve making practical arrangements, like funeral plans and writing a will, or it could be more emotional, like writing a letter to a loved one. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations – these can be some of the most important ones. 

5) Complete unfinished business

Help the person complete any unfinished business or desires. This may involve anything from mending a relationship, to traveling to a desired location. Help them make peace with themselves and others.

Perhaps the person facing death needs to forgive him/herself or someone needs to forgive them. You could also consider helping them create a legacy project to find a sense of purpose.

6) Support their spiritual needs

Spiritual support could involve attending religious services together, talking about spirituality, or meditating. If the person is not religious, you could still support their spiritual needs by talking about life and death, helping them find comfort and peace, and encouraging them to express their feelings.

Read also: 10 Disadvantages of Spirituality You Shouldn’t Ignore

7) Offer practical support

If you know someone facing death, consider helping with day-to-day tasks. This could involve anything from cooking and cleaning to handling finances and paperwork.

As the person’s health declines, they may need more and more help with everyday tasks. This can be a difficult role to take on, but it’s important to do what you can to make things easier for them.

8) Focus on the positive

Encourage the person to enjoy what time they have left. Let them do things that make them happy, whether big or small. This could involve anything from watching his favorite movie to taking a trip to the beach. It’s important to focus on the positive and enjoy the time you have together.

9) Promote independence and self-care as much as possible

This involves allowing the person to make their own decisions, helping him to do things for themselves, or simply respecting their wishes – even if they are different from yours.  It can be difficult to watch someone you love decline, but it’s important to let them retain as much control over their life as possible.

10) Connecting with others

Encourage the person to connect with other people who are dying or join a support group. This can provide a sense of community and connection at a time when the person may feel isolated.

It can also be helpful to talk to someone who is going through the same experience. There are many online support groups available, or you could look into local organizations.

11) Just be there

Simply be there for them, even if it means sitting in silence together. Just being present can be a great comfort – no words are necessary. Just your presence can provide a great deal of comfort.

12) Make them comfortable

Help make the person’s final days and hours as comfortable as possible. This may involve anything from managing pain to providing emotional support. It’s important to do whatever you can to make the person comfortable and at ease.

13) Support after death

After the person dies, stay close to their friends and family. This is a difficult time for everyone involved, and they will need all the support they can get. You could offer to help with funeral arrangements, or simply be there to listen and offer a shoulder to cry on.

Tips to help and support someone facing death
“The funny thing about facing imminent death is that it really snaps everything else into perspective.” – James Patterson

14) Don’t forget your own self-care

Take care of yourself and reach out for support during this time. Doing this will give you the strength and energy to support the person facing death. Taking care of yourself is just as important. Make sure to eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s also important to reach out for support from friends, family, or a support group. This can be a difficult time, and it’s important to have people to lean on.

Read also: Why Is Self-Care Important? + Top Tips To Prioritize It

Final words on tips to help someone facing death

These tips and strategies are just some ideas to get you started. The most important thing is to be there for the person and offer whatever support they need. Every situation is different, so just take things one day at a time and be flexible.

Related topics

What does it mean to be terminally ill?

Everyone experiences terminal illness differently. For some people, being terminally ill may mean that they have a limited time to live and are experiencing declining health. For others, it may mean living with a chronic condition that cannot be cured. Regardless of the individual experience, there are some commonalities that often accompany a terminal diagnosis.

People who are terminally ill often experience a great deal of physical and emotional pain. They may feel isolated and alone as they come to terms with their illness and its prognosis. Many people find it difficult to talk about their terminal diagnosis with others, as they may feel like they are burdening them or that no one can truly understand what they are going through. Read more.

What resources are available for those who are terminally ill?

If you are terminally ill, there are many resources available to help you cope with your diagnosis. There are support groups for people in similar situations, counselors who can help you process your feelings, and hospice care to help you manage your pain and other symptoms.

It is important to seek out the resources that are right for you so that you can make the most of the time you have left. Terminal illness is a difficult thing to face, but remember that you are not alone in this journey. There are many people who care about you and want to help you through this time. Read more.


Steinhauser KE, Christakis NA, Clipp EC, McNeilly M, McIntyre L, Tulsky JA. Factors Considered Important at the End of Life by Patients, Family, Physicians, and Other Care Providers. JAMA. 2000;284(19):2476–2482. doi:10.1001/jama.284.19.2476

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