Resources and support when someone is dying

There are many organisations, support groups and books that can help you cope when you are dying with cancer. They can also help the people close to you.

Bereavement and grief organisations

Cruse provides bereavement counselling. It offers help, support and information to anyone facing bereavement or who have been bereaved. It has a network of local branches throughout the UK.

Helpline: 0808 808 1677

This organisation aims to support you through your bereavement, connect you with others who have experienced something similar and hep you get the information and assistance you need.

Phone: 0300 200 4112

Grief Encounter provides support services for bereaved children and their families throughout the UK. Their website has resources and information for bereaved children and teenagers.  

Grief Encounter Project
The Lodge
17 East End Road
N3 3QE

Helpline: 020 8371 8455, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm 

This organisation can put people in touch with their nearest local bereavement support service. It also has a directory of UK bereavement services.

National Association of Bereavement Services
20 Norton Folgate
E1 6BD
Phone: 0207 247 0617
Helpline Number: 0207 247 1080

Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support makes it easy to connect with the right support from your computer, tablet or smartphone. They provide free one-to-one professional support, expert information and resources, and an online forum where you can talk to others in a similar situation.

General support and information organisations

General Medical Helpline: 020 8994 9874 (Mondays to Fridays, 6pm to 8pm)

The Medical Advisory Service offers information and advice on medical and health care matters.

For general health advice and information.

NHS 111 gives information if you need fast medical help but it's not a 999 emergency.

Phone: 111

Confidential telephone health advice and information service for people in Scotland.

NHS Helpline: 0800 22 44 88 (8am to 10pm – for details of pharmacies, GP practices and dentists in Scotland. Can also give information about illnesses, treatments and NHS services)

NHS 24 Helpline: 08454 24 24 24 (for when you are feeling ill and your doctor's surgery is closed)

Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. They provide booklets on cancer and treatments and run a helpline providing cancer information and benefits advice.

Head Office
89 Albert Embankment

Phone: 0808 808 0000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm – information available in other languages)
Textphone: 0808 808 0121

Family Action has a support and counselling service for any family needing help. It also gives financial help to people in need. You need a referral from a health or social worker.

24 Angel Gate
City Road
London EC1V 2PT

Phone: 020 7254 6251

An independent network that provides free advice about money, legal issues, housing health and social welfare issues. Often provides advice in English and other languages.

Phone 020 7833 2181 or go to the website to find your nearest Citizens Advice office. 

Disability Rights UK provides an information and advice service and campaigns for disabled people's rights. They also provide a Just Can't Wait card and radar keys that give access to toilets throughout the UK for people who might need to use a toilet in a hurry. 

14 East Bay Lane
Here East
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
E20 3BS

Phone: 0330 995 0404

DIAL is a network of more than 100 disability information and advice groups. The groups are run by people with experience of disability who give free, independent advice to anyone affected by disability (including cancer). It is now part of SCOPE, the UK charity for people with cerebral palsy and disability.

6 Market Road
N7 9PW
Helpline: 0808 800 3333 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

Organisations that provide equipment

This is an online shop for daily living equipment for the disabled community, older people, or those who look after people with difficulty getting around.

Phone: 01273 719889

Offers mobility aids at low cost to help both elderly people and disabled adults and children. Has an extensive range of daily living aids and disability equipment. 

Brook Mill Industrial Estate
Station Road
Wrea Green

Phone: 0845 5194734, Monday to Friday, 9am to  5pm – lo-call rates apply from a landline
Mobile number: 01772 675040

Red Cross services vary in different parts of the country, but they provide medical equipment, transport and hospital escort services, home emergency personal care, home respite care. There are branches throughout the UK.

44 Moorfields
Telephone: 0844 871 111

The Disabled Living Foundation gives information and advice on equipment and aids to help with daily living.

380–384 Harrow Road
W9 2HU
Helpline: 0300 999 0004

Hearing and Mobility has shops around the UK and a website selling equipment, including mobility scooters and stair lifts. It also has equipment to help with bathing, cooking, eating, and drinking.

61 Cowbridge Road East
CF11 9AE
Telephone: 0800 033 4060 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

Specific symptoms organisations

The Bladder and Bowel Foundation formed in 2008 from the former organisations Incontact and the Continence Foundation. It supports people living with bladder and bowel disorders and has a telephone helpline. The service is confidential. They can also give you information about stoma products.

They have a 'Just can't wait' card which allows holders access to toilets in shops and pubs etc. They ask for a £5 donation to receive this card.

Nurse helpline for medical advice: 0845 345 0165
General enquiries: 01536 533255

A UK support group for ostomates. The Colostomy Association provides information and support for anyone with a colostomy.

Enterprise House
95 London Street
Reading RG1 4QA
Helpline: 0800 328 4257 (24hr helpline)
Tel: 0118 939 1537 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday)

A support group for anyone who suffers from chronic pain. They deliver self management training to help those with chronic pain.

Suite D, Moncrieffe Business Centre
Friarton Road
Freephone: 0800 783 6059 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 4.30pm)

Provides support, advice and help in various ways to people affected by chronic pain and those close to them.

PO Box 134
IP25 7XA
Tel: 01362 820750
PainLine 0845 6031593 (From 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday)

Offers information and support to people with pain and those who care for them. They run a helpline staffed by volunteers, and have an online forum called HealthUnlocked for members to share experiences. You can listen to podcasts which feature interviews with experts and people who are managing their pain. You can also subscribe to their magazine, Pain Matters.

Unit 1-3 
62-66 Newcraighall Road
Fort Kinnaird
EH15 3HS
Telephone: 0131 669 5951
Helpline: 0300 123 0789 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)

This organisation provides information and support for people who need artificial feeding. They also have regional support groups for PINNT members.

PO Box 3126
BH23 2XS

A national charity offering information and support to anyone affected by lymphoedema. It has local support groups, a helpline and a website. It also produces a range of information including factsheets about lymphoedema and its treatment, 2 DVDs about self management techniques for lymphoedema, and a quarterly newsletter.

St. Luke's Crypt
Sydney Street

Telephone: 020 7351 0990 (Administration)

A registered charity that aims to improve the lives of those with lymphoedema. They actively contribute to the improvement of the management of lymphoedema worldwide and especially in developing countries. They have a number of booklets that can be downloaded free of charge. 

6/88 South Ealing Road
W5 4QB 


The BLS is mainly for health professionals caring for people with lymphoedema. They aim to encourage research and produce guidelines.

The Garth House
Rushey Lock
Tadpole Bridge
Buckland Marsh
Nr Faringdon

Telephone: 01452 790178


MLD UK promotes public awareness of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) from the point of view of both the patient and practitioners for people with lymphoedema. They publish a register of practitioners of MLD.

PO Box 14491
Fife, KY6 3YE
Tellephone: 0844 800 1988

Breast Cancer Care provides breast cancer information and support across the UK. All services are free and include a helpline, website, publications and practical and emotional support. It runs sessions about lymphoedema around the country. Each session includes information about the prevention and management of lymphoedema. Looking at signs and symptoms, practical self-help approaches that may reduce the risk of lymphoedema, and how to manage lymphoedema if it occurs.

Helpline: 0808 800 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and Saturday, 10am to 2pm)
Telephone: 0345 092 0800 (general enquiries)

Organisations that can help with issues of sex and sexuality

Offers private and confidential counselling, and psychosexual therapy to help with relationship problems.

Premier House
Carolina Court

Telephone: 0300 100 1234

Provides information about the help and therapy available for sexual difficulties.

PO Box 13686
SW20 9ZH

Telephone: 020 8543 2707

Information on sexual problems. They provide lists of local specialist practitioners, as well as factsheets on problems such as erectile dysfunction (impotence).

Suite 301, Emblem House
London Bridge Hospital
27 Tooley Street

Telephone 020 7486 7262 (Mon, Wed and Fri, 9am to 5pm)

This organisation provides a telephone helpline staffed by nurses. They can give you information and advice about all aspects of prostate cancer, including erection problems.

Fourth Floor
The Counting House
53 Tooley Street

Telephone: 0800 074 8383 (Mon to Fri, 10am to 4pm and Wed, 7pm to 9pm)

Books for people dying with cancer

R B Patt and S S Lang
Oxford University Press, 2006
ISBN 9780195312027

Written to help people with cancer and their close friends and family make decisions about living with cancer and managing symptoms. Some sections are specific to the US. But it is still helpful for people in the UK

Y Menuhin and R Reoch
Hamlyn, 2000
ISBN 1856750191

This guide shows how openness, advance planning and the use of complementary therapies can benefit dying people. It covers therapies, exercises and perspectives on death, emotions, attitudes and intimate needs. An extensive resources section tells readers where to find more help and support.

Charles Cowling
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010
ISBN 1441133224

This practical guide talks about the choices available when arranging a funeral. It covers all aspects of planning a service and creating a ceremony that both commemorates and celebrates a life, and provides comfort, inspiration, and good memories.

Practical help in advanced cancer (available in audio tape and Braille)
When someone with cancer is dying
Emotional support in advanced cancer
Coping with advanced cancer

Books for carers of people dying with cancer

Caring for someone who is dying (Carer's handbook)
Penny Mares
Age Concern Books, 2003
ISBN 0862423708

Combines practical information about money and legal matters with coping with the illness and issues of grief and bereavement. Talks about the role of hospitals, hospices and community cancer care teams. Has some carer’s stories.

Robert Buckman
Britnell Book Wholesalers, 2000
ISBN 1550130927

Helps family, carers and friends support and care for a dying person. Discusses how to talk and listen and outlines the dying process.

Julia Neuberger
Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, 2004
ISBN 1-857759-45-1

A helpful, practical book that discusses the issues that arise when looking after people from different faiths and cultures. Looks at Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

Julie Spencer-Cignoz
Age Concern books, 2003
ISBN 0862423678

Has information and practical advice for people caring for someone who lives some distance away. Has information on keeping in touch, financial support, and caring for physical and emotional needs.

Help with the cost of cancer: a guide to benefits and financial help for people affected by cancer
Caring for someone with advanced cancer

Cancer Research UK information and support

Cancer Research UK is the largest cancer research organisation in the world outside the USA. We fund research on all aspects of cancer from its causes to prevention and treatment.

We are committed to producing high quality information for people affected by cancer. As well as looking at the information on this website you can call our nurse freephone helpline on 0808 800 4040. They are available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or you can send them a question online.

Cancer Chat is our online forum where you can share experiences.

Books about dying with cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care, 2011

Helps patients and carers to know what to expect when someone nears the end of life. Covers being looked after at home, the last few weeks and days, nearing death, and care after death. Covers practical and emotional issues. Available from Marie Curie Cancer Care.

The Natural Death Centre
Strange Attractor Press, 2012
ISBN 1907222057

These books have comprehensive information about arranging funerals and working with funeral directors to get the best care. They cover preparing for dying and caring for a dying person, drawing up a will, living wills and memory boxes. The 5th edition contains more detailed information and includes essays on dying by various well-known authors.

Stephen Levine
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010
ISBN 030777368X

Sensitively explores all aspects and issues of death. Especially the feelings and emotions people might experience when they or a loved one is dying.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and J Hopkins
Atria Books, 2004
ISBN 978-0743244695

Discusses how to approach death as a natural part of life. It is written in a warm, humorous and sensitive style.

Dorothy Rowe
Harper Perennial, 2007
ISBN 000736914X

This book discusses fear of loss, bereavement, old age and death, and has guidance on how to work with fear. Written by a psychologist.

End of life care: a guide

Books about coping after someone has died

Department of Work and Pensions, March 2016

Available from the Department of Work and Pensions website.

Paul Harris
Which? Books, 2009
ISBN 1844900711

Covers the law and describes issues you need to be aware of. Has a list of useful addresses.

C Murray-Parkes, P Laungani and W Young
Routledge, 2015
ISBN 1317520920

Discusses beliefs about death and mourning and how people use ritual to cope with death.

C Sawyer and M Spero
Routledge, 2015
ISBN 9780415720519

Covers the law and issues you need to be aware of when dealing with wills and probate. Also discusses what happens if there is no will.

Susan Wallbank
Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2010
ISBN 0232526397

Covers the death of a partner and the effects this has. Looks from the point of view of various groups of people.

Royal Society of Psychiatrists

This sensitively written booklet discusses adult bereavement in a light-hearted way. Available from The Royal Society of Psychiatrists.

T Romain and E Verdick
Free Spirit Publishing Inc, 2003
ISBN 1575420554

Describes the emotions people have after the death of a close friend or relative and advises how to cope.

Harriet Sarnoff Schiff
Souvenir Press, 1979
ISBN 9780285648913

A sensitively written book that discusses all the issues that affect parents who have lost a child. Contains many personal accounts.

Earl A. Grollman
Beacon Press, 1993
ISBN 9780807025017

Discusses how to talk about and cope with grief after the death of a close friend or relative.

Organisations and websites for people with advanced cancer

This section of the NHS Choices website contains information about what you can expect during end of life care and the things you may want to think about. These include how and where you want to be cared for, as well as financial issues.

Maggie’s is a national charity with centres across the UK. They offer care and support to people affected by cancer. Each centre is beside an NHS cancer hospital and is run by specialist staff.

You can join a support group, take part in weekly sessions like relaxation and stress management, or learn about nutrition and health. You can also visit just to have a cup of tea and a friendly chat.

The Gatehouse
10 Dumbarton Road
G11 6PA

Phone: 0300 123 1801

The Resuscitation Council (UK) website has detailed information on decisions about resuscitation and your rights. 

5th Floor
Tavistock House North
Tavistock Square

Phone: 020 7388 4678

The Natural Death Centre gives support and information to help people die naturally at home. It advises on arranging inexpensive and environmentally friendly funerals. It also offers counselling.

The Hill House
Watley Lane
SO21 1QX
Tel: 01962 712 690


Hospice UK answers enquiries about any aspect of hospice care. The website includes a directory of hospice services in the UK and Ireland.

34 - 44 Britannia Street

Telephone: 0207 520 8200

This national charity works to inform and empower people to exercise their rights and choices around end of life care. It helps you plan ahead to ensure your wishes will be respected.

181 Oxford Street
London W1D 2JT

Phone: 0800 999 2434

This site offers support to children between 12 and 16 who have a parent with cancer. There is information about cancer and a forum to share experiences.

Kids Konnected is an American site aimed at children aged between 5 and 18. Children affected by cancer help each other on the site, which has a chat room.

The Funeral Guide website gives practical advice about what to do when someone dies. It includes information about finding a funeral director, organising a funeral, what if someone dies overseas, legal and financial issues. It has a comprehensive list of funeral directors and other organisations that can help you. 

Queens House
Little Queen St


The Good Funeral Guide website is run by a not-for-profit social enterprise company. The website provides information about funerals and has a recommended list of funeral directors. The company visit funeral directors and assess their services every 3 years.

16 Easton Square
Isle of Portland

Telephone:07557 684 515

20-22 Wenlock Road
N1 7GU

An online comprehensive guide to planning a funeral. It covers what to do after a death, how to organise a funeral, and how to deal with the legalities and financial issues. It also lists a number of organisations to help you.

Books about cancer

A Ko, E Rosenbaum and M Dollinger
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009
ISBN 9780740786310

The author and contributors of this book are all American cancer specialists. The book covers how cancer is diagnosed, treated and managed day to day.

J F Kelvin and L B Tyson
Jones and Bartlett Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978-0763777609

An American book which gives both doctor’s and patient’s views on coping with the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatment. It has information about treatment for pain, nausea, tiredness, and other symptoms.

SL Rose and RT Hara
Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009
ISBN 0763762571

An American book which gives information about caring for someone with cancer, including how to support them when they have symptoms or side effects.

Jane Freeman
Sheldon Press, 2012
ISBN 9781847091413

Written by a cancer dietitian, this is a practical handbook for people with cancer. Filled with helpful tips and recipes.

M Williams and others
Guilford Press, 2007
ISBN 1593851286

An American book, but two of the authors are British researchers who are helping to promote mindfulness based cognitive therapy courses for people experiencing stress and depression in the UK. A CD of guided meditations is included with the book.

Dr P Mortimer and‎ G Levine
Elliott & Thompson, 2017
ISBN 1783962852

Explains the causes and symptoms of lymphoedema. Describes treatments, including massage, exercise, and compression garments. It also has information about coping day-to-day with lymphoedema.

A Bloch and others
American Cancer Society, 2010
ISBN 978-0944235782

An American book but most of the information is relevant to the UK. It covers issues such as preventing weight loss and coping with dehydration, fatigue, and infection. It also discusses eating problems and digestion issues, such as swallowing problems, feeling sick and dealing with mouth sores. Focuses on survivorship and how to eat well after treatment.

If you would like to recommend a book

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Nursing home advice and information

This organisation provides independent advice about care homes in the UK and Ireland, including a directory listing homes by geographic region.  

Phone: 01483 203066

Age UK provides information, advice and support for people in later life.

Tavis House
1– 6 Tavistock Square

Advice line: 0800 678 1174
Scotland helpline: 0800 12 44 222

Organisations and websites for carers

Gives information and support to carers on many issues. It has local groups all over the UK and the head office puts you in touch with your local group.

20 Great Dover Street
Helpline: 0808 808 7777 (Monday - Friday, 10am to 4pm)

This is part of the NHS website. It can help you with information about caring for someone else. Ask if you need a translator when you call.

Telephone: 0300 123 1053. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm
Email: Online enquiry form

Crossroads Care and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers merged in April 2012 to form the Carers Trust. It works to improve support services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring for a family member or friend who is ill, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. They provide access to desperately needed breaks, information and advice, education, training and employment opportunities. They have offices in Scotland and Wales that can be contacted through the website or the London office. 

Phone: 0300 772 9600

The National Association of Funeral Directors can advise on arranging funerals. It gives information on the services provided by funeral directors and advises on what to do after someone has died. It also has a list of funeral directors across the UK.

618 Warwick Road
West Midlands
B91 1AA
Telephone: 0121 711 1343

To celebrate the life of a loved one, you can create a personalised page in their memory. You can invite friends and family to donate in their memory to help beat cancer.

Related links