Chapter 4: Strategies for follow-up

Post-death family meetings


“It was very useful for us to go back and have a follow-up meeting, revisit my time in ICU, and retell the story with someone who was well informed about the case and answered my preoccupying questions”. - Family member


A positive and constructive family meeting before death can make an enormous difference for families at risk of or experiencing psychological trauma and can help them better cope with their bereavement. Families report great appreciation for the chance to ask questions of the team as they try to make sense of their experience and rebuild their lives. Unsurprisingly, many have expressed the wish for a similar meeting after death has occurred.

Purpose of a post-death family meeting

It’s important to determine why a family is seeking a meeting. It may be helpful to ask the family in advance of the meeting if they could indicate what they would want to talk about or send a list of specific questions (if applicable) to help staff prepare answers. The following are some typical reasons:





Planning and conducting a good family meeting



Responding to anger, criticism, or complaints

Occasionally, a family will be angry or question medical decisions. Whether or not you think there are any grounds for this, it’s important that you make a sincere effort to listen. Remember that they are vulnerable in their grief and are trying their best to make sense of their experience. Below are some additional tips to help you in these family meeting situations.


Click on the arrows to view.