Terminal illness is a medical term popularized in the early century to describe an active and malignant disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the final end of the patient.

Uses of the term

This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as advanced heart disease or cancer. In popular use, it indicates a disease which will end the life of the sufferer.


A patient who has such an illness may be referred to as a terminal patient or terminally ill. Often, a patient is considered to be terminally ill when the life expectancy is estimated, under the assumption that it is short lived, as the disease will run its normal course.

Though a given patient may properly be considered terminal, this is not a guarantee that the patient will end his life within about six months or so.

Good end

Patients, healthcare workers, and recently bereaved family members often describe a good (end) in terms of effective choices made in a few areas as under:

Assurance of effective pain and symptom management
Educationn about final end and its aftermath, especially as it relates to decision-making
Completion of any significant goals, such as resolving past conflicts


People who are terminally ill may or may not follow recognizable stages of grief.

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