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Bereavement in families with relatives dying of cancer

Grassi, Luigi

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: April 2007 - Volume 1 - Issue 1 - p 43–49
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e32813a3276
Psychological and cognitive problems
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Purpose of review The aim of this review is to examine the new conceptualization on bereavement and, more specifically, on grief and bereavement in family members of patients who have died of cancer

Recent findings Current research findings in palliative care clearly suggest that grief and bereavement should be approached as a continuum, in order to provide optimal care for the family both before and after the death of their loved one. A growing body of evidence indicates the need for screening of dysfunctional patterns during anticipatory grief (preparatory grief) to prevent complications during bereavement and set up proper intervention. The concept of pathological grief and its risk factors has also been the subject of research. New phenomenological dimensions of pathological grief, such as complicated grief and traumatic grief, have been explored. Complicated grief has been proposed as a possible category in DSM-V.

Summary It is important to understand the suffering endured by family members of patients dying of cancer and the consequences of bereavement. A careful and systematic exploration of the risk factors for pathological bereavement is important for optimal psychosocial care of family members in palliative medicine programs and community medicine.

Section of Psychiatry, Department of Medical Sciences of Communication and Behavior, University of Ferrara, Italy

Correspondence to Luigi Grassi MD, Chair and Professor of Psychiatry, Section of Psychiatry, Department of Medical Sciences of Communication and Behavior, University of Ferrara, Corso Giovecca 203, 44100 Ferrara, Italy Tel: +39 0532 236409; fax: +39 0532 212240; e-mail: luigi.grassi@unife.it

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.