Despite improvements in the treatment of head and neck cancer, many patients still succumb to their disease. A litany of medical, psychosocial and ethical challenges arise in managing the end-of-life experiences within this patient population. In this article, we attempt to review existing data about the end-of-life experiences of this cohort, extrapolate relevant data from other cancer patients, and suggest the most promising avenues for additional research and practice improvement for terminal head and neck cancer patients. Clinical decision-making for patients dying of head and neck cancer requires proactive consideration of quality of life, functionality, symptom control and other patient-centered objectives, and frequently benefits from palliative care team involvement. Additional research aimed toward optimizing the end of life experience of head and neck cancer patients and their families is greatly needed.