hand of patient in hospital bed placed in the hand of a visitor. End of life, hospice care concept
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 25, 2024 ·  3 min read

Hospice Nurse Reveals ‘Worst’ and ‘Best’ Diseases to Die From

Death is an inevitable part of life, but the experience can vary dramatically depending on the disease. Julie McFadden, a hospice nurse from California, has shared her insights into which diseases are the most and least agonizing ways to die, based on her extensive experience in end-of-life care. Her revelations provide a sobering look at the differences in terminal illnesses.

The Worst: ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Julie McFadden
Credit: Instagram

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, tops our hospice nurse’s list of the worst diseases to die from. This neurodegenerative disease causes the progressive death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. Patients gradually lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow, and eventually breathe. The disease is 100% fatal and can span from a few years to decades, often ending in an excruciatingly slow decline. McFadden describes it as particularly cruel due to the loss of independence and the painful progression.1

Read More: Hospice Patients Share Their Mysterious Dream Experiences: “Who You See Before You Die”

The Worst: Glioblastoma

Cancer of the brain as tumor growth diagnosis and symptoms of gliomas meningiomas astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas as diagnosis of symptoms as a paper sculpture.
Source: Shutterstock

Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, is another disease hospice nurse McFadden cites as one of the worst to die from. This cancer rapidly destroys brain tissue, leading to severe neurological impairment. Patients often experience seizures, memory loss, and intense headaches. The disease is highly resistant to treatment, and survival rates are low, with most patients living only 12 to 18 months post-diagnosis. The rapid and devastating impact on both physical and mental faculties makes glioblastoma especially hard on patients and their families.2

The Emotional Toll on Families

Credit: Pixabay

The emotional impact on families witnessing their loved ones deteriorate from diseases like ALS and glioblastoma cannot be overstated. Commenters on social media have shared their personal experiences, echoing the hospice nurse’s sentiments. For instance, one commenter described ALS as the most cruel disease, having lost her father to it. Another recounted the harrowing decline of a loved one due to glioblastoma.

The Best: End-Stage Kidney Disease

Doctor holding Anatomical kidney Adrenal gland model. disease of Urinary system and Stones, Cancer, world kidney day, Chronic kidney, Urology, Nephritis, Renal and Transplant concept
Source: Shutterstock

On the other end of the spectrum, McFadden identifies end-stage kidney disease as one of the gentler ways to die. Chronic kidney disease leads to the gradual loss of kidney function, often necessitating dialysis. However, when patients decide to stop dialysis, the end comes relatively peacefully. The hospice nurse notes that patients typically fall asleep and pass away within a week, making it a comparatively serene process.

Read More: End-of-life Doctor Discusses What People Say in The Final Days Before Death

The Dignity of a Peaceful Passing

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Many families have found solace in the more peaceful nature of end-stage kidney disease. Comments on McFadden’s revelations highlight the peaceful and loving environment in which their loved ones passed away. The ability to say goodbye and manage the end-of-life process on their terms provides a sense of closure and peace that is often missing in more aggressive diseases.

The Role of Hospice Care

hospice care
Credit: Pixabay

Hospice care plays a crucial role in managing the symptoms and providing comfort to those nearing the end of their lives. McFadden’s work emphasizes the importance of compassionate care and the need for tailored approaches to different diseases. Understanding the nature of each illness helps hospice nurses offer better support to both patients and their families.


End of Life
Credit: Getty

Julie McFadden’s insights into the best and worst diseases to die from offer valuable perspectives on the varying experiences of terminal illnesses. While diseases like ALS and glioblastoma present some of the most challenging and painful deaths, end-stage kidney disease allows for a more peaceful and dignified passing. These reflections underscore the importance of hospice nurse care and the need for ongoing support for patients and their families during such critical times.

Read More: 7 Signs That Death May Be Near in Someone With Dementia


  1. End of life nurse reveals the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ diseases to die from.” Daily Mail. Joshu Health. June 13, 2024.
  2. End of life nurse reveals the ‘worst’ (and ‘best’) diseases to die from.” Metro UK.
    Alice Giddings. June 14, 2024.