Visiting someone at the end of their life during coronavirus

If someone close to you has pancreatic cancer and is near the end of their life, you will want to spend time with them. We have information on this around coronavirus restrictions.

Read all of our information about end of life care during coronavirus

For most people, it is important to spend time with someone nearing the end of their life as it gives them a chance to say important things, and to say goodbye.

If you don’t live with the person with pancreatic cancer, you can still visit them if they are reaching the end of their life. There is slightly different information on this for people living in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Take care to follow precautions to protect your loved one when you visit. Make sure you wash your hands carefully when you arrive, and regularly while you are there. Avoid touching your face, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve. Try to follow social distancing guidance where possible. Read more about the current guidance on social distancing.

If your family member is in hospital, a hospice or care home, the guidance says that visits should be allowed for people at the end of their lives. But there may be restrictions on who and how many people can visit them. Ask those caring for them whether it’s possible for you to visit them. They will do their best to help with this while sticking to the guidance, although it may not always be possible.

Support bubbles and extended households

If you live in England or Northern Ireland, you could think about forming a “support bubble” with the person with pancreatic cancer. If you live in Scotland or Wales, this is called an “extended household”. This means that you would be able to meet indoors as well as outside and stay overnight. You wouldn’t need to follow the social distancing rules, so you would be able to hug them and be close to them. You would effectively be able to act as if you were members of the same household.

People with pancreatic cancer may be at higher risk of getting seriously ill if they get coronavirus. They are advised to bear this in mind when forming a support bubble or extended household. They should be particularly careful if they are thinking about forming a bubble with someone who may be more exposed to coronavirus, such as a doctor or nurse treating people with coronavirus.

Read more about support bubbles and extended households.

If you aren’t able to visit

It may not be possible for you to visit your loved one. For example, you may not be able to travel to their home, or if they are in a hospital, hospice or care home, there may be restrictions or a limit on visitors.

If someone close to you is dying, this will be an emotional and upsetting time. If it’s not possible to visit your loved one in the last days of their life, this will probably make these feelings worse. There are ways that may help you feel connected to each other, even if you can’t see them in person.

  • You could talk to them on the phone or video call. The people caring for your family member may be able to help make this happen. If your family member is going into hospital, a hospice or care home, try to make sure they take their phone and charger.
  • The carers or staff may also be able to pass on messages, emails or photographs. Speak to the people caring for your family member about what’s possible.
  • You could write them a letter or card.
  • Or you could record a message.
  • You could also try recording sounds of home, or sounds that are important to them. Some examples include their children or grandchildren playing, their dog barking, someone singing their favourite song, or birdsong.
  • You can find more ideas for keeping in touch with someone from the National Bereavement Alliance.

Trying some of these things may help, but it will probably still be really hard if you’re not able to see your loved one, or say goodbye properly. There are lots of organisations that provide support to people who have been bereaved, and many of them have adapted their information and support to help people during coronavirus. Try getting in touch with some of these to see if they can help you come to terms with losing someone during coronavirus.

Updated 29 April 2021