“Although we cannot lessen the loss of a loved one, we can provide family members with clear, concise, and accurate information about the death, and access to helpful resources …These actions facilitate the healing process for family members.”
There has been a spike in the rate of deaths across the world due to COVID-19. With social distancing protocols being followed, families have been distraught at not being able to be with their loved one in critical condition. Anxiety has plagued society as a whole. At a time like this, the article focuses on how family members should be notified in an empathetic and sensitive manner with precise information about the death of their loved one. Also, access should be provided to resources that could prove to be helpful to them. This initiates a process of healing for family members.
“The large number of critically ill patients, overwhelmed healthcare systems and separation of patients from their loved ones create unique challenges when informing family members when their loved one dies.”
The person who notifies the family should be someone from the healthcare industry and has prior experience with communicating difficult news. It should preferably be someone who has been involved with the patient’s care and can communicate it to them in a calm and composed manner. This is a highly stressful task that should be dealt with sensitively. It is important to be well versed with the personal details of the deceased patient before approaching the family members. This includes details about the patient’s residence, age, and profession. It would not look good to communicate with a family member without having sufficient knowledge about the patient.
The news should be delivered clearly and emphatically using simple terms. Terms such as departed or passed away should be avoided. While delivering the news, the person should not beat around the bush and come straight to the point. There is no easy way to inform someone that their loved one has died but the family would appreciate it if it were done sensitively and kindly.
The person who informs the family should be very careful when it comes to revealing the patient’s last moments. Details that could hurt them even further should be avoided. It would be wrong to share false information with them just to appease them. They should be honest while answering their queries and try their best to not overwhelm them even further.
The family members might find it hard to accept the news and they might lash out. It is important to understand that it comes from a place of grief and unbearable loss. The person conveying the news should be prepared for such a response and not lose their calm in the process. Instead, they should provide them with resources that could help them cope with their grief. The family undergoes a gamut of emotions and is in no condition to think straight. The person should act as their guide and inform them of the procedures and resources that are available at their disposal.
At times like these, small gestures make a lot of difference. A note expressing sorrow can go a long way in comforting the bereaved family.
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