Sudden traumatic death : Caring for the bereaved
Supporting relatives following sudden and traumatic death is one of the most daunting aspects of emergency care. Relatives are devastated by the suddenness of the event, a situation often compounded by the mutilation of the body of their loved one. Managing the practical aspects of death pronouncement, explaining the cause of death, performing last offices, and representing the body to relatives can be emotionally draining for even the most experienced emergency practitioner who is required to remain composed whilst supporting grieving relatives through their tragedy. This article considers how emergency personnel may effectively offer emotional presence and support at a time when the sheer magnitude of the event annihilates the possibility of any sense of order. The juxtaposition of communication with caring and the impact of caring on healing should not be underestimated. This concept will be discussed in relation to how relatives are cared for in the emergency department.