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Preparing for Death

Tips to Help You Prepare for Death

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Updated May 17, 2011

No one wants to face death, yet no one can escape it.  What we can do is hope our own death is comfortable, peaceful, and meaningful.  Following these tips can help ensure that your death will be.

1. Plan Ahead and Make Your Wishes Known

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Preparing for death should start before you even receive a terminal diagnosis.  It's important to take some time to think through your goals, make important decisions, and share them with your loved ones.  Completing an advance directive is the best way to ensure your end-of-life wishes are honored.

2. Plan Your Own Funeral

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This is another step that doesn't have to wait until you receive a terminal diagnosis.  Planning your own funeral ensures you get what you want for the price you want to pay.  Your funeral or memorial celebration will reflect your personality and will be a truly memorable event.  Planning ahead also saves your loved ones from having to plan something meaningful in the midst of their grief, which is a great gift to leave behind.

3. Allow Yourself to Grieve

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When an individual receives the diagnosis of a terminal illness, it's normal to have a wide range of emotions and responses.  Coping mechanisms, such as denial and anger, may kick in as the individual deals with his own grief and the emotions of his loved ones.  

4. Review Your Life

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One of the most important things you will do as you prepare for death is review your life.  This is the step most people talk about when they discuss regrets, accomplishments, hopes, and dreams.  Doing a life review is way to bring closure to a dying individual.  It can also serve as a legacy of life to the dying individual's loved ones. 

Whether you decide to do an internal life review or record your life story for loved ones, reviewing your life is an important step to take as you prepare for death.

 

5. Familiarize Yourself with Common End-of-Life Symptoms

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Did you know up to 70% of individuals experience shortness of breath near the end of life?  Other symptoms, like pain and constipation, are also common.  It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most common end-of-life symptoms so you can recognize them if and when they occur and start treatment.  Many of the symptoms that occur at the end of life can be treated at home, and there are steps you can take to ensure your comfort.

6. Know What to Expect from the Dying Process

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There is a natural process that occurs as an individual nears death, and while each person is unique, the dying process is nearly universal.  Many people find it helpful to know what to expect during a typical dying process. This guide will prepare you for what lies ahead on your journey towards death.

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  5. Prepare for Death - Prepare for Death at Home

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