What a Dying Person May Wish to Know


Make a Listing of:

  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Insurance information
  • Credit card accounts
  • Other liabilities and loans
  • Regular income and side income sources
  • Usernames and passwords (e.g. www.keepass.info)
  • Monthly expenses: utilities, insurance, mortgage, loans, etc.
  • How to collect life insurance and other benefits, who to contact, etc.
  • Important information: wills, deposit boxes, etc.

Save all information on computer in My Documents, on a flashdrive, in a fire safe place, copy a zipped and password protected file to Gmail – named “IF I DIE”.


Five Stages of Grief by E. Kubler-Ross – a model for coping with dying and death:

Denial – “I feel fine” – a state of denial, a temporary defense in coping

Anger – “Why me? It’s not fair” – a state of misplaced feelings of rage and envy

Bargaining – “I’ll do anything for a few more years” – a state of hope that death is delayed

Depression – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” – a state of beginning to understand the certainty of death

Acceptance – “It’s going to be ok” – a state of beginning to come to terms with mortality


Physical process of dying:

  • Physical weakness/lack of energy/loss of interest in everyday things – body’s systems weaken and less oxygen in available to the muscles
  • Withdrawal from family and friends/increased sleepiness/coma
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Body temperature and color change
  • Breathing changes
  • Unexpected alertness and increased energy
  • Signs of imminent death
  • Clinical death

Ira Byock calls them The Five Final Tasks.

Will you forgive me? Is there a forgiving that I need from you? Most likely something from a long time ago? Something I have carried with me for so long… Can I actually ask for it?

I forgive you Am I willing to let go of old wounds and hurts in the face of my dying? Let it just be? Let it rest? And can I say this to your face?

Thank you What a gift to say thank you one more time. Even if there is neither enough time nor enough words to thank you… for everything.

I love you This is something we can never say often enough. Never hear often enough. It feels so good to hear and say it, even one more time.

Good bye Can we actually say it, and mean it? Let it sink in, that this is a final good bye, at least in earthly terms? Feel all its weight? Feel all its finality? Am I ready to say good bye for good?

Source: The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living”

Life Transitions

Whenever something difficult or unexpected happens in our life, there can be many adjustments, challenges and changes. It is natural to experience fear, anger, helplessness or other distressing emotions. Some of these challenges and changes can impact your emotional and mental health.

Advance Care Planning: What you need to know

By planning ahead, you have a voice in your future health care decisions and will be sure your wishes are respected. Every capable adult should think about making an advance care plan.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning begins by thinking about your beliefs, values and wishes regarding future health care treatment. It is about having conversations with your close family, friends and health care provider(s) so that they know the health care treatment you would agree to, or refuse, if you become incapable of expressing your own decisions.

How to Start:

Tell someone close to you, or your health care provider, that you want to talk about your future health care. Have as many conversations as needed.

Your Options:

Your advance care plan can also include:

  • A Representation Agreement where you write your instructions and name someone to make your health and personal care decisions.
  • An Advance Directive with instructions for health and personal care that are given to your health care provider, which they must follow directly when it speaks to the care you need at the time.
  • Appointing someone to make decisions about your financial affairs, business and property in an Enduring Power of Attorney, which would take effect only when you become incapable.

Download the provincial advance care planning guide and workbook at:
www.seniorsbc.ca/legal/health decisions
For more information, call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.