Talking to the people you’re close to

Those closest to you will want to support you at this time, even though it’s hard for all of you. They are the people who know you best, and talking to them can make you feel comforted, supported and reassured.

How it can help

Sharing your thoughts and fears can help you deal with difficult emotions. It may also strengthen your relationships.

It’s actually made my mum and me much closer. We haven’t talked like this since I left home.

Talking can also give you a sense of control. Family and friends will usually want to make sure your needs and wishes are met. It can help you and them to talk about what you want in terms of the ‘practicalities’ of dying – such as pain control, where you would like to die and what kind of funeral you would like. 

What can get in the way

Talking about the fact you’re going to die soon is naturally difficult, but there may be reasons why you find it particularly hard.

Keeping your feelings private

Perhaps you prefer to keep your feelings private. But bottling things up can be hard and can make you feel very alone. If you can talk to a few people, it could help you cope better.

Overwhelming emotions

You may find that the emotions you’re experiencing are too overwhelming to talk about just yet. You may find that talking about dying makes it too real and unbearable. Take your time – maybe later on you’ll feel more comfortable about talking. In the meantime, it might help to write down the things that you find difficult to talk about so you can come back to them when you feel ready.

Other people

Some people may be reluctant to talk with you, maybe because they’re struggling to deal with the situation themselves. Or they’re afraid of upsetting you, or that they’ll get upset in front of you.

In some cultures people don’t talk about dying, because they believe it shows you have lost hope and may make it happen sooner. If this is what it is like for you, you’ll need to consider carefully what will help you most.

If someone really doesn’t want to talk it can be frustrating. Maybe they can show you they care in other ways, such as hugs or making you cups of tea. Or they may be able to help in practical ways – such as getting some shopping or picking up a DVD you want to watch.

It’s important to remember that it is up to you who you talk to, what you tell them and how you do it.

Reviewed September 2015. Next planned review 2017.