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End of Life Care is the care given during the last phase of life.

Common Definitions

  • Bereavement is the state of having suffered a loss such as a death. "Bereave" derives from the same root as the term "rob."
  • Grief is the process of experiencing the psychological, spiritual, behavioral, social and physical reactions to the perception of a loss. Grief is a part of mourning.
  • Mourning refers to the larger process of how one copes with a loss, is able to create a new life and a new identity, and then is able to reinvest in the world. The specific ways in which people mourn are influenced by the customs of their culture.

A Child's Understanding of Death

  • Under 3: Aware of parent's death but doesn't understand the meaning. Knows something is different.
  • 3 to 6 Years: Death is temporary and reversible. Takes explanations very literally. Has difficulty distinguishing  fantasy from reality.
  • 6-9 Years: Understands that death is irreversible and that it happens to all humans. May feel guilt over losing a parent and may have fear of death.
  • 9-12 Years: Begins to understand loss of life as adults do. Struggles with why it happens. Keeps death at a distance and does not think about their own mortality.

Thoughts to Keep In Mind

While our patients and their loved ones know that death is a possibility each person' experience of death is unique and cannot be fully anticipated.

When you are speaking to a patient or their loved ones, you should be sensitive to what you say and how you say it, but use words directly. People can sense if you are uncomfortable with their situation.

How Do You Help When Someone is Suffering a Loss?

Pyramid explaining how to help someone suffering a loss

SCCA Resources for Employees

  • Use the sanctuary for quiet reflection or prayer.
  • Chaplaincy and Social Work is for staff as well as patients and their families.
  • Utilize your organizations Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

*Special Acknowledgment to: Therese Rando, Ph.D., BCETS, BCBT and Institute for Study and Treatment of Loss

End of Life Care Quiz Question

 a. True
 b. False

Check Answer


Correct answer: a. True