Using complementary therapies when you are dying

People dying from cancer sometimes use complementary therapies. It can help them cope with cancer and its treatment. 

How complementary therapies might help when you're dying

Many complementary therapies aim to help you relax and reduce stress. They can help calm your emotions and relieve anxiety. Some people find that they improve symptoms such as:

  • pain
  • sickness
  • fatigue
  • depression

People who are dying find it helps to have gentle therapies such as:

  • massage
  • aromatherapy
  • reflexology

But other people find that being touched is too painful or uncomfortable. You might find other types of therapies more helpful, such as:

  • visualisation
  • meditation
  • reiki

Many palliative care wards and hospices have complementary therapists. They can treat you when you are dying.

Complementary therapies for relatives and carers

Some hospitals, hospices and support groups offer complementary therapies for relatives and carers.

This can be a great help if you spend a lot of time at the bedside. Having a relaxing massage can be a very important support during this emotional time.

Last reviewed: 
08 Apr 2022
Next review due: 
08 Apr 2025
  • Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer (CSG4)
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), March 2004

  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Hospice and Palliative Care: A Systematic Review

    Y Zeng and others

    JPSM Journal of pain and symptom management, Volume 56, Issue 5, p.781-794. E4, November 01, 2018

  • Complementary Therapies for Symptom Management in Cancer Patients

    A Satija and S Bhatnaga

    Indian journal of palliative care, 23(4), 468–479, 2017

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