Bereavement is defined as the objective situation one faces after having lost an important person via death.
It is conceptualized as the broadest of three terms (bereavement, mourning, grief) and a statement of the objective reality of a situation of loss via death.
Caring for families that are experiencing painful loss is a challenge because there is uncertainty about what is required and a risk of offering support which may be rejected.
Follow up of the family and carers 1-2 weeks after the funeral and at least one follow up 1-2 weeks later helps assess the coping responses of the bereaved and the need for support. Follow up can be done by the general practitioner, a bereavement counsellor, or a member of the palliative care team most closely connected with the family. Expressing condolence by telephone, letter or home visit with an indication of continued support if required enables the provider to say goodbye and concludes the total process of care.
groups are useful to provide support to specific groups such as children, adolescents and single parents.
is given to those in the high risk group.
The clinical decision on whether to provide pharmacologic treatment for depressive symptoms in the context of bereavement is controversial and not very extensively studied. Some health care professionals argue that distinguishing the sadness and distress of normal grief from the sadness and distress of depression is difficult, and pharmacologic treatment of a normal emotional process is not warranted.
Data from 4 studies suggest that antidepressants are well tolerated and improve symptoms of depression.
See reference for details.
National Cancer Institute. Bereavement, Mourning, and Grief (PDQ®). Internet. Accessed on November 1, 2009.