photo of couple reviewing medicare options

When you have metastatic SCLC, you may think about the end of life and how to prepare for it. There are decisions and actions you can make as you approach that time to help ease the transition from life to death. 

From the mundane to the emotional, some things to consider include:



Practical Matters

If you’re able, you might go ahead and take care of some administrative tasks. These include getting your financial and legal matters in order and taking care of funeral arrangements so your loved ones don’t have to make those decisions.

It can be hard to talk about these topics because they’re reminders of death to come. It may be helpful to use a professional as you approach it, such as a counselor, financial planner, or lawyer. 

Everyone’s affairs are different, but you may want to:

  • Decide on your advance directive. This is a legal paper that names the person (or people) you choose to make decisions about your medical care when you no longer can. By setting this up before you need it, you keep more control over how you’re treated during the end of your life. 
  • Figure out insurance. It’s good to find out if your insurance will cover end-of-life care services such as in-home nursing or hospice.
  • Organize your important papers. Be sure your loved ones know where you keep life and health insurance policy information. If you have a safe deposit box, tell someone how to access it. Keep a document with important passwords to accounts and let a trusted friend or family member know about it. Make a list of crucial contacts such as your financial planner, insurance agent, and attorney.
  • Think through your memorial service. If a funeral is important to you, talk through your preferences with whomever will take care of it. You may want a celebratory party, certain words read, or special music played. Talk to your loved ones about your remains. There are many options after death, including burial, cremation, scientific donation, and more.

Dealing With Emotions

Navigating the end of life is a whole new experience that comes with a wide array of feelings. You may feel at peace, or you may feel angry and afraid. Many people feel profound grief that their life will soon be over.

If you feel guilty or regretful about certain relationships in your life, talk honestly to your family and friends about your feelings to help clear the air. You can also keep a journal or write letters to your loved ones to express your emotions.

A bereavement counselor, spiritual leader, or social worker can be instrumental in guiding you through the complex emotions you feel at this time. You may have symptoms of anxiety and depression. Professional support can help you handle your mental load.

Saying goodbye to people you care about can feel overwhelming, especially because you don’t know when these goodbyes may be final. Remember that these conversations don’t have to be formal or elaborate. Simply saying “I love you” can give you and them peace of mind.

For the Caregiver

If you’re caring for someone approaching the end of life, there are things you can do to support, care, and advocate for them. These may include:

  • Ask if there’s unfinished business you can help them complete. 
  • Listen to their stories, regrets, or memories.
  • Discuss pain management and other options your loved one wants or doesn’t want to prolong life.
  • Talk about where your loved one would prefer to be when they die, if it’s possible for them to have that choice. 
  • Be mindful of cues. Give your loved one space to be alone when they want, but be present when they need support.
  • Provide touch for your loved one, either to help relieve pain or simply to comfort them with your presence.

Show Sources

Photo Credit: pixdeluxe / Getty Images


National Cancer Institute: “Making Future Plans with Advanced Cancer.”

American Cancer Society: “Emotions and Coping as You Near the End of Life,” “Saying Goodbye.”

Hospice Red River Valley: “5 Conversations to Have When a Loved One Nears the End of Life.”