Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘It’s Not Like in the Films’: Bereaved People’s Experiences of the Deathbed Vigil

Caswell, Glenys; Wilson, Eleanor; Turner, Nicola; Pollock, Kristian


Glenys Caswell


This paper explores how people enact and experience the deathbed vigil when someone close to them is dying. It draws on qualitative interviews with 34 bereaved people carried out as part of a wider study exploring public perceptions of death and dying. Participants were aware of the expectation that they would attend the deathbed and did their best to do so. Findings are reported using four themes: gathering, enacting the deathbed vigil, experiencing the deathbed vigil and moment of death. Participants’ experiences varied. Some families kept vigil as a group, while others established a shift system or waited alone. Activities at the bedside included reading to the dying person, talking amongst themselves, sharing memories, saying goodbye. The covid-19 pandemic highlighted families’ wish to accompany their dying relatives.


Caswell, G., Wilson, E., Turner, N., & Pollock, K. (2022). ‘It’s Not Like in the Films’: Bereaved People’s Experiences of the Deathbed Vigil. OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 14, 2022
Publication Date Oct 14, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 2, 2022
Journal OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying
Print ISSN 0030-2228
Electronic ISSN 1541-3764
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Life-span and Life-course Studies; Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine; Health (social science)
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations