Notes for Doctors/Nurses Making Telephone Calls to Bereaved Relatives

Before telephoning the relative, read these three lists in order.

HERE ARE SOME NORMAL GRIEF REACTIONS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF

  • Preoccupation with thoughts of the dead person leading to tearfulness and to insomnia.
  • Visual phenomena Illusions of seeing the dead person and pseudo hallucination visual, auditory and physical.
  • Yearning
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Poor concentration
  • Indecision and Restlessness.  There may be periods of being able to concentrate and perform quite well amongst periods of haziness and indecision.
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fatigue
  • Searching – knowing that the person is dead but going hopefully to places where the would have been.

THESE FACTORS INCREASE THE RISK OF A DIFFICULT GRIEF

  • A sudden or unexpected death
  • An painful/stormy/horrible death
  • Multiple losses
  • Over dependance on lost relative
  • Lack of support
  • Other life crises e.g. financial, job loss, house being taken over etc.
  • Existing mental illness, especially depression.
  • Carer not present at death

CHECK LIST WHEN TELEPHONING BEREAVED RELATIVES

I           Sleep

2          Appetite (+ or -)

3          General health

4          Going out

5          Keeping in touch with family and friends

6          Feelings of excessive anger or guilt – do they need to be explored?

Click here for the Bereavement Risk Assessment Tool

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