No one wants to think about end-of-life care, but it remains an unavoidable inevitability for all of us. Caregivers often face the unenviable task of preparing for the death of a loved one during the last months of their lives, and it can be difficult to know where to start. What do you need to do to help prepare for end-of-life care?

Start Getting Ready Early

Handling the loss of someone you care about is never easy, but it becomes that much harder when you’re scrambling to plan funeral arrangements and figuring out how to manage their estate after they’re gone. The best thing you can do to help make planning end-of-life arrangements more comfortable is to start early.

Early preparation also makes it easier to include your loved one, which is essential if you’re not sure about their feelings about their funeral arrangements, medical interventions or how they want to spend the end of their days. It can prevent conflicts with other family members, especially if you have their wishes in writing in a will or power of attorney document.

Consider Expenses

End-of-life care is expensive, even in the best of situations. In preparing for the death of a loved one, you need to think about everything from the cost of medical care to the price of hospice, palliative care and a funeral. Their health or life insurance might cover many of these expenses, but others — like funeral costs — will not be.

An average funeral can cost more than $10,000 once you add in the cost of a burial or cremation, funeral home usage, transportation and funeral preparations.

Speak to your loved one, if possible, and find out what they want at their funeral. You can pre-plan and pre-pay for many of these expenses before they are necessary, which makes the event more manageable, if not easier.

Address Conflicts Early

Have you ever watched a soap opera? After a character dies, there is always a fight over the will — even if the person clearly outlined their wishes. While it makes for great television, it isn’t necessary after the death of a loved one. Take the time to address any potential conflicts before your loved one passes away. Talk to any family members who might try to contest their wishes and try to resolve these issues before they have a chance to make a scene at the funeral or the reading of the will.

Research Hospice and Palliative Care

Hospice facilities, either with or without palliative care, can ensure your loved one passes away comfortably and with dignity. Before you need them, research hospice facilities in your area. Find out which ones take your loved one’s insurance or if other payment methods will be necessary.

This research is another form of preparation that can make losing a loved one a little bit easier to handle. Instead of navigating through a maze of red tape at the end of their life, you can arrange for care long before you need the facility’s services.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

Preparing for the death of a loved one can be intimidating and sometimes overwhelming, but you should not ignore self-care during this challenging time. We’re not suggesting neglecting your responsibilities or anything. Instead, if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take advantage of resources outside your inner circle. Family and friends can be a source of support as well. All you have to do is ask.

None of us want to think about end-of-life issues, but early preparation, plenty of research and asking for help can make the responsibility a little bit easier to bear.

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website:

Related Articles

The State of Paid Family Leave

The State of Paid Family Leave

"The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world BECAUSE it doesn’t have paid family leave. In other words, our position as one of...

Old lesbian love

Old lesbian love

The week we move in together, Pam breaks her leg. They call it a fragile fracture, and I argue about the word fragile. “Why fragile? This woman...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.