Chapter 1: Strategies for intervening in anticipatory grief and trauma
Promoting family self-care
“I would occasionally leave the room for a brief walk or to get coffee. Texting friends helped give me a sense of normalcy and support.” – Family Member
Families may need gentle prompting from you to take a break. Many people have a very hard time giving themselves permission to go home to get some sleep or to eat a good meal. You can reassure the family that:
- The patient will be well looked after.
- You will contact them if there are changes to the patient’s condition.
- Everyone needs some time to recover their energy to continue supporting the patient.
- Even a small break from the ICU can help give a new perspective.
See Chapter 2, the Moment of Death, in this Module for more information on how to support a family member who is not present when the patient dies.
“I know it’s hard to step away but it’s important that you take a break once in a while. You need to keep up your strength, and I’m sure [patient] wouldn’t want you to wear yourself out. We’ll take good care of [patient] while you’re gone”.
“There’s always a possibility that you might not be here at the moment of death. This could happen whether you go home to rest or if you stepped out for only a few minutes. What would it mean to you if this happened”?
“Is there someone else you’d like to have present or nearby? Can I call anyone on your behalf”?