Do you know their wishes?

Sometimes, a person who is dying may become unable to communicate their wishes. For example, if they were unconscious, would you know how they would want to be looked after? And have they made their wishes for after their death clear? Try to make sure you know their wishes and preferences ahead of time.

Their wishes for the end of their life

Their wishes for after their death

  • Do they have any ideas about how they’d like their funeral to be? And is there anything else they would like to be done in their memory? They could try our funeral planner to write down their preferences.
  • Do they have a pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance? Do you know where to find the details of these?
  • Have they made a will? Do you know where it's kept? If they have not made a will, it's important for them to do so.
  • Are they on the Organ Donor Register? An 'opt-out' system came into place in 2020, so check whether they have opted out or whether they would like to.
  • Do they have any dependants (such as young children)? What are their wishes for how they are cared for?
  • Do they have any pets? Who would they like to take care of them?

For more information on things to consider, read our guide Planning for the end of life.

Practical matters

These can often be overlooked at very emotional times but are also important to think about. For example, if you’re living with someone, you may each have practical tasks you tend to take responsibility for, which the other person may know little about.

Make sure the person who is dying shares a list of their:

  • bank accounts
  • credit cards
  • bills
  • insurance policies.

They might also need to share online passwords and tell you what they want to be done with any social media accounts.

It can be easy to overlook simple things. Consider:

  • do you know how all the appliances, the heating system and any alarms work?
  • will there be any change to your income? You might want to try our benefits calculator to see if there’s anything you’d be able to claim
  • do you rely on them for any tasks, such as cooking or driving? You may want to consider learning new skills – councils and local charities may run courses in basic skills like DIY and cooking – or see if there are local services that can help you.

Finding emotional support

The death of someone you know, particularly someone you’re close to, can be devastating. Even if the person has not yet died, you may already be experiencing some form of grief. You might be grieving for how your relationship used to be, or how the person was before their illness, or anticipating the loss their death will cause.

Everyone deals with bereavement differently, but there is support available if you want it. You might want to talk to:

  • your GP
  • friends and family
  • a bereavement counsellor.

Professionals who are involved with caring for the person who is dying may also be able to help you. For example, hospices provide a range of support for patients and their families, including bereavement support.

You may also find support online from other people going through a similar experience. For example, Gransnet is an online forum for over-50s where you can talk about topics such as caring, health and bereavement.

For more information, read our guide Coping with bereavement.

Next steps

Read more on how to start the conversation about end-of-life planning.

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