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Self-Reflection on Comforting Aboriginal Who Has Witnessed the Death of His Loved One

I have learned that while dealing with the patients and their families in palliative care, it is important to know the religious beliefs and cultural attitudes of the patients and their families. There will be various beliefs towards death and dying, and being a professional nurse it is important to know the beliefs and practices to be able to successfully comfort the family at the occurrence of the death of a family member. The Aborigines believe in death and view this event as only a step towards a new life, and life after death is very much like that of the lives before death (Griffiths et al., 2019). The Aboriginals need to be near their loved ones when they know that their end is near, that is, the Aboriginals need to be with their family at the time of their death. Thus, as the death is near, I would call the next in kin to the patient to be near them.

As a nurse, if I would comfort the family of the deceased person, first by acknowledging their loss and stating how unimaginable pain the family would be feeling. Keeping in mind these few things would be beneficial because there is no way that a person can feel the pain the other person is feeling on the death of their loved one, even if we have experienced it ourself, moreover, everybody’s loss is different and acknowledging it would be respectful for the patients (Mast & Gillum, 2018). If, this has happened to one of my colleagues, I would ask them to tell me more about their loved one and try and build rapport with them. This would help me in building rapport with the family and share their grief.

I would also ask them if I can be of any help and act on the knowledge which was shared by the family member on the cultural protocols which were to be followed right after the death of the loved one. This would particularly help me ensure that all the cultural beliefs are fulfilled and the family does not regret not being able to do the last rites according to their beliefs and culture (Riphagen & Stolte, 2016). I have also, learned that it is really important for me to answer all the questions being asked by the family members of the deceased as a respect and condolences to their family. Because there might be times that the family members may not know how to proceed ahead with the funeral, thus, answering their questions would help them in arranging the final rituals.

Some things should not be said to the grieving family of a deceased person such as asking them how they are doing? Instead, we as nurses should comfort and acknowledge that what they are going through is difficult and they should be let to grieve completely and without being judged. We should never say that the deceased is in a better place in front of their family rather comfort them by saying “We are sorry for your loss”. Grieving is always painful and difficult, thus it should not be made more difficult by using wrong words (Worden, 2018). I have learned, it is not appropriate to say that it had to happen eventually, rather, it would help to acknowledge and reaffirm that they would miss their loved one who has passed away. It is important to have sympatathic and empathetic towards the grieving families but it is important to be careful while using words and actions for consoling the grieving families.


Griffiths, K., Coleman, C., Al-Yaman, F., Cunningham, J., Garvey, G., Whop, L., Pulver, L.G., Ring, I & Madden, R. (2019). The identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in official statistics and other data: Critical issues of international significance. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 35(1), 91-106.

Mast, M., & Gillum, D. (2018). Case Study of Nurses’ Experiences Related to the Deaths of Their Patients. The health care manager, 37(4), 325-332.

Riphagen, M., & Stolte, G. M. (2016). The Functioning of Indigenous Cultural Protocols in Australia’s Contemporary Art World. International Journal of Cultural Property, 23(3), 295-320.

Worden, J. W. (2018). Grief counseling and grief therapy: A handbook for the mental health practitioner. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

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