Key Points

• Abandonment is a major fear of dying patients, who spend an average of 10 awake hours alone per day.

• Listening and allowing patients to express their fears and concerns is of great therapeutic benefit.

• Touch and sitting with the patient convey support and compassion.

• Frequent assessment of the patient and family's desire for information must be accompanied by honest answers.

• Patients should be allowed as much control as possible to avoid fear of the unknown.

• When cure is not possible, much benefit can be derived from attention to daily symptom control.

• Avoid giving false hope, but remember that hope and humor can be therapeutic.

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