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Care of families during and after the death of a loved one
  1. Margaret Reith, Senior Social Worker
  1. Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, Surrey. Email: margaretreith{at}


Families of dying people feel cared for if their loved one receives quality care at the end of life. Many issues affect families during the protracted illness and death of a loved one. If they are to assist families with grief, nurses must appreciate the richness and structure of families and develop a broad understanding of the concept of the term ‘family’. Some deaths cannot be grieved openly, thus leading to hidden (or disenfranchised) grief. The extended family and its ‘hidden’ members need to be given consideration. Nurses must also assist adults to communicate with children who are experiencing grief. It is helpful if nurses are familiar with bereavement services as these can assist bereaved families before and after the death of a loved one. This article explores the above issues in order to assist with the management of the extreme emotions families can experience when dealing with grief. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Bereavement
  • End of life
  • Families
  • Nursing role

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