Navigating End-of-Life Conversations: How to Discuss Hospice with Family

Discussing the reality of a loved one’s declining health and end-of-life journey is never easy. Emotions run high, and conversations about hospice care can be incredibly challenging. However, having compassionate discussions about hospice is essential to ensure that your loved one receives the care they deserve in their final days. These conversations can be difficult, and if you are struggling with initiating these discussions, here we will provide you with guidance on navigating end-of-life conversations and understanding the importance of compassionate hospice care.


Choosing the Right Time and Place

Bringing up hospice care can be emotionally overwhelming, so it’s crucial to choose an appropriate time and place for the conversation. If possible, involve the patient in the conversation and respect their preferences and wishes regarding end-of-life decisions. Ensure that the setting is private and comfortable, where everyone can express their feelings openly without any distractions. Approach the conversation with empathy, understanding, and compassion while acknowledging and validating the emotions of everyone involved.  Select a time when all family members can be present and allocate ample time for the discussion.

Understanding Hospice Care

Before discussing hospice care, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what it entails. Hospice care is a specialized approach that focuses on providing comfort, pain and symptom management, and emotional support for individuals with terminal illnesses. Not only does it focus on the physical aspects of caring for an individual, but also provides a holistic approach addressing the spiritual and emotional needs of the patient as well as their support system. Hospice emphasizes quality of life during the end-of-life journey, ensuring that patients are as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Hospice care can take place in a variety of settings, including the patient’s home, assisted living facilities, nursing facilities, or whatever setting the patient calls home.

Read more about frequently asked questions on hospice or contact our supportive team if you have questions regarding hospice care. Our team is here to help assist and guide you in making the best decision for your loved one after evaluating your unique circumstances.


Initiating the Conversation

Broaching the topic of hospice care with your family requires sensitivity and empathy. Start the conversation by expressing your love and concern for your loved one’s well-being. Acknowledge that the situation is difficult but emphasize the importance of providing them with the best possible care during this challenging time. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts, fears, and hopes, creating an atmosphere of open communication and understanding.


Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions

It’s not uncommon for family members to have reservations or misconceptions about hospice care. Some may associate it with giving up hope, but that’s far from the truth. Compassionate hospice care focuses on enhancing the remaining time a patient has, making it as meaningful and comfortable as possible. Address concerns and myths honestly, providing information to alleviate any misunderstandings. Here are some tips to address common misconceptions:

Misconception 1: Hospice means giving up hope.

Hospice care is not about giving up hope; rather, it shifts the focus to a different kind of hope. Instead of aiming for a cure, the goal becomes improving the quality of life for the patient during their remaining time. Hospice care provides comprehensive support, pain management, and emotional comfort, allowing patients to spend their final days with dignity and surrounded by loved ones. Hospice puts the individual back in control to make decisions regarding their health, how they want to spend their final months, and the ability to have a self-determined care journey.

Misconception 2: Choosing hospice means hastening death.

Hospice care does not hasten death. It is not about administering treatments to prolong life, nor does it involve euthanasia or assisted suicide to hasten death. Hospice care is about providing comfort and managing symptoms to enhance the patient’s quality of life during their end-of-life journey. Studies have shown that some individuals may have an increased life expectancy with the utilization of hospice services.1

Misconception 3: Hospice care is only for the last few days of life.

Hospice care can be provided for much longer than just a few days. In fact, patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live are eligible for hospice care. By starting hospice care earlier, patients can benefit from the full range of support and symptom management for a more extended period, improving their overall quality of life during their final months. Additionally, if a patient’s condition improves or stabilizes, they can transition out of hospice care and back to other forms of treatment as needed.

Misconception 4: Hospice care is expensive.

Hospice care is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. It is designed to be a comprehensive and cost-effective approach to end-of-life care. Hospice providers work closely with insurance companies to ensure that patients receive the necessary care without causing financial hardship. In fact, hospice covers all medications and supplies related to the terminal condition. This may mean durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, mobility aides, hospital beds, toileting aides and more as well as more frequently used supplies like incontinence supplies, oral care products, personal care products, and more.

Respecting Individual Wishes and Preferences

During end-of-life conversations, it’s essential to consider the wishes and preferences of the person who will be receiving hospice care. Each individual may have different priorities and values when it comes to their care. Some may prefer to remain at home surrounded by family, while others may find comfort in a hospice center’s supportive environment. Respecting and honoring their choices will ensure that they feel empowered and in control of their care decisions.


Providing Emotional and Psychological Support

Hospice care goes beyond physical comfort; it also addresses the emotional and psychological well-being of both the patient and their family. The end-of-life journey can bring about feelings of fear, grief, and uncertainty. Compassionate hospice care includes support services, such as counseling, spiritual care, and bereavement assistance, to help families cope with the emotional challenges they may face during this time. These resources offer a safe space to express emotions and find ways to navigate through the grieving process.


Creating Lasting Memories and Meaningful Moments

While the focus of hospice care is on comfort and symptom management, it’s also an opportunity to create lasting memories and share meaningful moments with your loved one. Engage in activities that bring joy and comfort to them, such as sharing stories, listening to their favorite music, or organizing small family gatherings. These moments not only provide comfort to the patient but also allow family members to cherish the time they have left with their loved one. At Honor Hospice, we have a full range of special patient care programs focused on creating these very same lasting memories, and meaningful moments. As a nurse-owned and operated hospice team, we believe in breaking the traditional mold of hospice by going out of the box to deliver new programs aimed at enhancing time with loved ones.

Involving the Hospice Care Team

Once your family agrees on pursuing hospice care, involve the hospice care team early in the process. The Honor Hospice team consists of experienced and compassionate professionals who can guide you through the transition and offer emotional support to both the patient and the family. Collaborating with the hospice team ensures that your loved one receives the best care tailored to their needs.

Read more about our hospice services here→.



Navigating end-of-life conversations about hospice care is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging experiences. However, by approaching the discussions with empathy, understanding the concept of compassionate hospice care, involving the right professionals, and respecting individual preferences, families can find comfort in knowing their loved ones will receive the best possible care. Remember that hospice providers offer a range of services that extend beyond physical care, providing emotional support and the opportunity to create meaningful memories with those you hold dear. Through open communication and a compassionate approach, you can make the journey as comfortable and meaningful as possible for your loved one with the compassionate and expert care offered by Honor Hospice.



1. Eichelberger, T., & Shadiack, A. (2018). Life expectancy with Hospice Care. American Family Physician.,by%20up%20to%20three%20months.