Death can occur suddenly and without warning, or it can be expected. Older people, or people with terminal illnesses, may have time to prepare for death. A terminal illness is a disease or condition that will eventually cause death. Preparing for death is a process that affects the dying person’s emotions and behavior.
The impact of death in our society is easily underestimated. National events sometimes provide a timely reminder of the power and influence of a dignified death and the profound effect it has on the family and those close to the person who has died. Evidence based guidelines now exist to help with the care of people who are dying, including guidelines for symptom control, psychosocial support, and bereavement care. None the less, highly publicized cases continue to occur of patients dying in distress with uncontrolled symptoms and relatives being unsupported at this vulnerable time in their lives. Ensuring a good death for all is therefore a major challenge not only for healthcare professionals but also for society.