Primary Care - Bereavement


Bereavement refers to the grief and sense of loss felt with the death of someone close. The duration and expression of ‘normal bereavement’ can vary considerably, most people have the personal and social resources enabling them to cope. While bereavement is a natural response, for some people, it can be significant and prolonged.

Primary care providers are well placed to recognise and support those who are struggling with bereavement and abnormal or prolonged grief. It is important to assess and manage bereavement risk in those who are close to the patient by having a conversation with them about how they are coping.

Bereavement - ELDAC Care Model

Prolonged Grief Disorder is intense and persistent symptoms of distress following the death of a family member or friend. Significant mental and physical health problems may be present, for example, insomnia, depression, cardiac problems, substance misuse, cancer, suicide, depressed immune function and work and social impairment. Also known as complicated grief (PCA, 2018).

Abnormal grief
A webpage providing information and resources on abnormal grief processes, including ‘prolonged grief disorder’ and ‘complicated grief’ (PCA, 2018).

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) 2018, The National Palliative Care Standards (the Standards): 5th Edition – 2018, Palliative Care Australia, Sydney.

Clinical practice guidelines for the psychosocial and bereavement of family caregivers of palliative care patients (630kb pdf)

Centre for Palliative Care

These guidelines were developed for multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and clinical services commonly involved in caring for adult patients receiving palliative care in a variety of care sites throughout Australia. Information includes setting up support for family caregivers, assessing need and establishing a plan of care, preparing for death, and bereavement support.

Understanding grief
Palliative Care Australia

Everyone experiences grief in their own way. This resource provides information on the grieving process, how should you feel and for how long?

A practical guide to coping with bereavement (150kb pdf)
NSW Health South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
A fact sheet for family and friends providing information on coping with bereavement after the death of someone in hospital.
Bereavement support
Grief Australia
A website providing information and educational resources for the wider community to improve grief and bereavement knowledge. Education and training programs are offered as seminars, workshops, courses, conferences, webinars and customised training that meet the specific needs of organisations and agencies.
Grief before death — understanding anticipatory grief
A web page providing information for family and carers about anticipatory grief, or grief occurring before the death of a person being cared for.
Podcast Episode 2: Cultural humility
Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP)
This episode features interviews with Dr Andrew Watkins and Dr Peter Saul discussing the importance of family and culture in palliative care.

Page updated 11 December 2023