When someone is given a terminal diagnosis a range of facilities and organizations become available to them to help with the physical, emotional and spiritual process of dying.
When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate - the genetic and neural fate - of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. - Oliver Sacks
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness whether it's curable or not.
It's provided by a specially trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with the patient's regular doctors to provide an extra layer of support.
It focuses on providing the patient with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness with the aim of improving the quality of life for both the patient and loved ones.
It's available at any stage in a serious illness and is usually provided through a hospital.
Hospice is specialized care for someone who has six months or less left to live.
Hospice focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than cure. It's designed to provide support for the patient and loved ones.
A patient can receive hospice care in their home, a nursing home, a hospice facility and in some cases a hospital.
You can raise the possibility of hospice with your doctor at any time and they will give you a referral. Hospice is not affiliated with any religious organizations
dying at home
Anyone can chose to die at home.
The familiarity and sense of control that comes from being at home can bring your loved one some emotional and potentially spiritual comfort.
To die at home your loved one still needs to be under the care of a doctor who will be able to recommend what support you need such as visiting nurses and special equipment. Keep in mind that people who choose to die at home may require constant care and assistance and often these needs may be too much for family & friends to handle alone. There are a range of trained home care workers that can help with care when family & friends need to work, run errands or simply take a break. It's best to start with more help that you think you might need rather than burn yourself out trying to do it all.
Death doulas, or death midwives, support the patient and their family through the end of life process. They offer a range of services from being a companion at the bedside through to organizing paperwork & helping to arrange the funeral.
Some charge for services while others do it on a volunteer basis. Most death doulas have undertaken a training program and/or already have a background in end of life care.