In summary

Module 2 summary

Supporting family members during times of acute distress, such as when a patient is dying or has died presents you with many challenges. Developing strategies to manage these situations is important not only in the moment but also in the future when, for example, families who are not realistic or prepared for death tend to have more difficulties coping in the future.

Some of the key topics discussed in this module included:

  • Navigating the moments of transition when life-saving interventions shift to end-of-life measures, which is likely to be one of your biggest challenges.
  • Finding ways to be as realistic as possible with families, who may be struggling to make sense of what is happening or accept that the patient’s death is inevitable.
  • Identifying ways to manage critical situations and constructively responding to exceptionally difficult situations (e.g., comforting a family member who was not present at the moment of death).
  • Employing frequent and transparent communication, which can help prepare families for what is coming.
  • Recognizing that returning to the ICU may be how some families cope with their grief and trauma, and making them feel welcome (e.g., if possible, make time to check in with them, see how they are doing, and answer any questions that they may have).