Chapter 5: After the death

Being with the family

The paramedic says
Don discusses ways to support grieving families. (3:22)

You may offer to stay for a little while, if you’re able. Sitting, listening, and talking with family members can be a great comfort to them. It’s important that you follow the family’s lead and sit quietly, talk, or help with tasks according to their preference. Rushing too quickly to offer tissues may give the impression that it’s not okay to feel sad and to cry. After some moments have passed, you might offer to get some water or make tea. 

Conversation Prompts

If it seems appropriate, you might ask: 

Would you like to tell me about (insert the name of the patient)?

Would you like to share a bit about how you’re feeling?

Remember not to rush to fill a silent moment. Families will need more time to process your questions or what they’re feeling and thinking. Your calm and reassuring presence can be of great benefit. 
Sitting quietly with someone and offering to hold their hand in condolence can be reassuring; but keep in mind the variable meanings of touch.
For additional information, see Module 3, Explaining clinical information and what to expect - Chapter 1, Communication essentials - Compassionate communication - Touch.