Provide bereavement counselling for the patient before death (as described earlier) and for the family after death of their beloved. They may also feel denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, anger, humiliation, despair and guilt about the dead person and the care they received before death. Help the family accept the death of the loved one. Share the sorrow — encourage them to talk and share their good memories. Do not offer false comfort — offer simple expressions and take time to listen.

Remember to offer practical help. For example, try to see if friends or neighbours can help with cooking, cleaning, running errands, child care, etc. for a few days after the death. This can help in the midst of grieving. Ask the family if they can afford the funeral costs and future school fees, and help in finding a solution if possible.

Encourage patience — it can take a long time to recover from a major loss. Say that they will never stop missing their loved one, but the pain will ease and allow them to go on with life.

Last modified: Saturday, 24 May 2014, 3:55 PM