Dispelling Myths About Palliative Care
And Dying

Dispelling the Myths...

The topics of Palliative Care, the use of pain medications, how to care for the dying, and what it is like to die.


For the majority of people these subjects are difficult to talk about and often we rely on “what we have heard” from others. Our fear of discussing or educating ourselves on sensitive topics can result in making decisions based on information that is out of date or - in the worst case - untrue.

It is important for critically ill individuals and their families to have reliable information on how to care for those with a life limiting illness, use of medications, and services available as one begins the journey towards the end of life.

Listed below are some common misconceptions and myth busting videos to help you make the best medical and care decisions for yourself or your loved one.

Palliative Care

  • Myth: Palliative care is only for the elderly.

    Truth: Life limiting illnesses occur across all age groups. Palliative care is for people of all ages who are facing a life limiting illness.

  • Myth: Palliative care is only for the last days or weeks of life.

    Truth: Palliative care should start once the disease has been deemed progressive and incurable and done alongside treatments to control the disease.

  • Myth: Palliative care means nothing can be done.

    Truth: Research has shown that patients with an incurable disease who begin early palliative care have less depression, less anxiety, better quality of life, better symptom control, and on average live longer than those who start palliative care during the late stage of their illness.

Pain Medication

  • Myth: I’ll become addicted to pain medication.

    Truth: Doctors know how to administer pain medications to treat pain. Pain medications do not have the ability to fundamentally change your behaviour or cause addiction.

  • Myth: Drugs will dull my senses. I won’t be alert or able to make decisions.

    Truth: Pain affects the ability to think clearly. Eliminating or minimizing pain allows patients to become functional and improves their quality of life.

Understanding Pain

  • Myth: The pain is all in your head.

    Truth: Many patients experience pain but the doctor cannot find a physical cause. Pain can be both sensory and emotional.

Understanding the Dying Process

  • Myth: It is important for the terminally ill to eat as they approach end of life.

    Truth: Bodies know how to die. At some point food and fluids will make a patient feel worse. Loss of appetite and losing the desire to drink is part of the normal process of dying.

    A gentle walk through the physical process of dying:

  • Myth: Dying is painful.

    Truth: Dying is not painful. Disease is painful.

More Helpful Videos

Tips on how to communicate with a critically ill person.

Do not put a timeline on your grief.

Dying with Dignity - Fundamentals of Palliative Care

How to talk about death and dying.