How Do You Cope with Imminent Death?

Living while facing your death is a complicated time. Still, you have the opportunity to cherish a delicate, yet precious time in your life. Your choices and wishes will affect your quality of life from now on, and it will have a direct effect on those close to you.

Upon being diagnosed with a terminal illness, a swirl of emotions, thoughts, and actions can knock you down. Still, living while your death is imminent is possible and very much precious.

How Do You Cope with Imminent Death?

When we are faced with our imminent death, we justifiably turn our thoughts to the potential for pain, dependency, helplessness, and the uncontrollable fear of the unknown. Then, our thoughts shift to concern for the well-being of our family members’, making us worry about our end-of-life decisions.


Coping with imminent death gives you and your family a rare opportunity to grieve together. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are stages of grief everyone has to go through—even if it’s not at the same order or pace. As you go through this process, you will be able to heal and accept your impending death—and so will your family.

Your coping choices can help you appreciate the valuable time you still have. Instead of looking at the specific stages of grief, look at the ways you can cope with your imminent death through meaningful actions:

  • Take care of yourself first
  • Find ways to minimize physical distress
  • Surround yourself with those you love

Instead of focusing on the end, recall that you’re still alive and that every day counts. Make them count.

Dealing with Your Loved One’s Imminent Death

Once you accept your loved one is dying, you may find yourself longing to spend time with them, righting any wrongs from the past, and facilitating their end-of-life wishes. As part of spending time with them, families may collect memories and stories as an effort to build a legacy for future generations. Scrapbooking, journaling, and video recordings are all ways to leave an enduring legacy that can be cherished by everyone.

Even though the nature of imminent death is ruthless and cruel, hope is crucial for those involved in such a situation. Do not let others tell you or your loved one you can’t be hopeful. It is essential to hold on to that feeling and make each day count. Remain optimistic that someone will continue to care for you, hopeful that you can see your family members one more time, hopeful that your loved ones will be more comfortable as their journey continues. Hold on to whatever helps you feel at ease.

Lastly, prepare yourself for the next signs that death is near. No one understands what to expect, and these signs can be alarming to some. Expect your loved one to withdraw from people, experience more pain, blood pressure drops, inconsistent breathing patterns, and other signs and symptoms.

Unfinished Business

Having time at your disposal while coping with imminent death can thrust people to discuss what we all know as unfinished business. Are you content with all aspects of your life? Is your family aware of your end-of-life wishes? Wouldn’t you rather assess these things now? Working on these directives may help bring down the anxiety of not knowing what will happen to you and your family if you should find yourself in a situation where you are not able to participate.

Funeral Planning

Planning a funeral or memorial service is important for anyone, regardless if their death is imminent or not. Pre-planning offers your family members a valuable relief. Take the time to discuss with your family your funeral arrangements:

  • Whether you want a burial, entombment, or cremation
  • If you wish to have a religious or nonreligious ceremony
  • Whether you want a funeral or memorial service
  • Will there be music played?
  • Family members and loved ones who should take part
  • Will there be any involvement of military or other organizations?

Estate Planning

Do you have a will that expresses how you want your assets to be distributed? Some people believe wills are for those with great fortunes, while in reality, everyone should have a living will. Write a will that outlines your desires and the instructions as to how to carry out those wishes. Talking to the beneficiaries of your will also avoids many problems later on.

Parting Words

Even with imminent death, the end is uncertain. Many seek out opportunities to express parting words to their loved ones. Some choose these moments to thank those for all they have contributed, others apologize from anything they have done that was hurtful to others, some choose to forgive others, and many express their love. Some, choose to make sure they’re able to say “goodbye.”

Making Today Count

In the end, you can decide how you will live this time. Will you make each day count? What decisions will make a difference? If you are reading this, you have been given valuable time to think and anticipate the imminent death on the horizon. Reflect on your life, seize any opportunities that are open to you, and prepare yourself and those around you for the future.

Do not stop living before your life ends; make today count by coping with the challenges and unfinished business that are important to you. This is your life, and you have the power to influence some aspects of it. Continue to be hopeful and continue to cherish your loved ones until the end.


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