When someone we love is extremely sick and close to dying, we may worry about them. We may wonder if they are hungry or thirsty. We may want to feed them and give them water. But sometimes, that is not what they need or want. In this article, I will explain why your loved one is not starving or dehydrated to death and how you can help them feel comfortable and loved.

The Brain Shuts Down the Drive to Eat and Drink

I talked to a doctor named Eric Barr in March 2021, who works with dying people. He told me that when people are dying, their brain tells them to eat and drink less. This is normal and natural. It means that their body is getting ready to die.

Many people think giving food and water to someone sick is a way of showing love and care. When I was a kid, my grandma made soup and sandwiches for me when I was ill. I have seen other people do the same thing for their loved ones. It is exceedingly kind and sweet.

But when someone is dying, it is different. They may not want to eat or drink anything. They may say no, turn their head away, or show signs that they are not hungry. We should respect their wishes and not force them to eat or drink. Trying to make them eat or drink when they are sleeping or not awake can be very bad for them. It can make them choke, have trouble breathing, or have pain in their body.

When someone dies, their body does not need as much energy as before. It focuses on keeping its brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys working. Giving them too much food or water can make their body work harder than it needs to. It can also make their lungs fill with water or their legs swell. This can make them feel worse and die sooner.


Your loved one is not suffering from hunger or thirst. They are going through a natural process of dying. The best thing you can do for them is to be with them, talk to them, hug them, and tell them you love them. You can also get help from people who care for dying people, like hospice or palliative care. They can make your loved one feel more comfortable and peaceful. They can also support you and your family during this challenging time.


Changes in the last hours and days of life

End-of-Life Nutrition

How Many Calories Does Digestion Use Up?

Huge meals have been fatal

Managing Changing Nutritional Needs at the End of Life

Mom's Not Eating

Teaching the Family What to Expect When the Patient is Dying

When someone you love stops eating and drinking

Why It's OK for Your Loved One to Stop Eating and Drinking on Hospice

Eldercare Locator: a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources

Surviving Caregiving with Dignity, Love, and Kindness | Simplifying the Search for In-Home Care

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My Aging Parent Needs Help!: 7-Step Guide to Caregiving with No Regrets, More Compassion, and Going from Overwhelmed to Organized [Includes Tips for Caregiver Burnout]

Take Back Your Life: A Caregiver's Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm

The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself

Dear Caregiver, It's Your Life Too: 71 Self-Care Tips To Manage Stress, Avoid Burnout, And Find Joy Again While Caring For A Loved One

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

The Art of Dying

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying

Providing Comfort During the Last Days of Life with Barbara Karnes RN (YouTube Video)

Preparing the patient, family, and caregivers for a “Good Death.”

Velocity of Changes in Condition as an Indicator of Approaching Death (often helpful to answer how soon? or when?)

The Dying Process and the End of Life

The Last Hours of Life

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The amount generated from these “qualifying purchases” helps to maintain this site.

Gone from My Sight: The Dying Experience

The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes Before Death

By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home

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