Heart failure

Reaching acceptance about heart failure

Reaching an understanding of heart failure and accepting what it may mean for the future happens to people at different stages of their illness. Most people we talked to said that the implications of heart failure had dawned on them gradually, and for others the idea of heart failure was still sinking in.

Several were unsure about the details of their prognosis and wondered what more could be done to help them. Others said they felt optimistic about the future and were looking forward to seeing their children and grandchildren grow up. A woman said it had taken her more than a year to accept her heart failure but that now she was 'plodding along nicely'.
Having heart failure seemed to make many take stock of their lives. One man and his wife had decided to start a family. Others said they were now reading more widely or had started new hobbies (see 'Sports, hobbies and activities'). Others saw each day as 'a bonus' and tried to do as many enjoyable things as they could. A man who had worked abroad a great deal said that it felt as if he and his wife were courting again because they were now spending all their time together.

Accepting heart failure made some think about death and dying. Several were philosophical saying that death comes to everyone though maybe rather sooner to them. Some felt the need to put their affairs in order and one woman had started sorting out her house and possessions. A few people said that it was not death but dying that worried them. People usually expressed the wish to die quickly, though in general they were uncertain how heart failure would affect the manner of their deaths if at all.

Sorting out financial and personal matters had helped some people and their families accept the situation. Several people talked about making new wills and some had organised their own funeral in advance. A man who had also paid for his funeral explained how he had faced up to his fear of dying.

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Several people had found it difficult to talk to their family about the future, and said that doing so caused people to get upset. One man challenged the view that being organised about death was morbid and said families could find it hard to accept the uncertainty of heart failure.

Several of the people we talked with suggested that their heart failure was harder on their family than on themselves, particularly their spouses.

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For information on end of life care see our resources.


Last reviewed April 2016.
Last updated April 2016.


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