Bearing bad tidings death notification with competence and compassion
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Bearing Bad Tidings: Death Notification with Competence and Compassion - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Bearing Bad Tidings: Death Notification with Competence and Compassion. Why?. It’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing and it’s good for business. Litigation Ongoing coordination with the family Message sent to staff Reputational risk within the community and marketplace

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Presentation Transcript

Why? Compassion

  • It’s the right thing to do.

  • Do the right thing and it’s good for business.

    • Litigation

    • Ongoing coordination with the family

    • Message sent to staff

    • Reputational risk within the community and marketplace

    • Return to productivity

An unforgettable experience
An Unforgettable Experience Compassion

For You

For Them

Preparation emotionally
Preparation - Emotionally Compassion

  • Should you be the person to deliver the news?

  • Evaluate your vulnerabilities:

    • Recent losses

    • Similar events

    • Current emotional and health status

    • Kids?

    • Likelihood of ongoing contact

  • Evaluate the impact upon the family if you do/don’t do it.

  • Compassionate strength
    Compassionate Strength Compassion

    I care.

    I am strong enough to handle this/you.

    Strategic objectives
    Strategic Objectives Compassion







    Tactical preparation
    Tactical Preparation Compassion

    • Make absolutely sure you know the full identity of the victim and the family!

    • Know the nature, time, and place of the incident.

    • Notification should be in person rather than phone whenever possible.

    • Go as a team. Never make notification alone. Team should include company leadership, close colleague, clergy/mental health.

    • The team should discuss what is known about the family and be able to address logistical, cultural, spiritual, medical, and mental health issues.

    • If possible, determine if the survivor(s) have a medical condition. Be prepared to provide emergency care.

    • Bring your cell phone.

    Control the setting
    Control the Setting Compassion

    • If a close friend or family member already knows, include them.

    • Make certain the setting is confidential.

    • Have a team plan if children or neighbors are present. Do not inform children or neighbors before survivors. Remember that children will be watching and listening for their parent’s reactions.

    • Identify the next-of-kin/family spokesperson.

    • Arrange for safe travel for additional family members.

    • Sit down!

    Notification Compassion

    • Identify yourselves by name and the company you represent.

    • Seated close, establish eye contact, speak with a lower, warm voice.

    • Inform simply and directly.

      • General – “Your _____ has been involved in a serious accident.”

      • Details – “His car was struck by a large truck.”

      • Notify – “Richard died as a result of his injuries.”

  • Be aware of individual and cultural differences. Go with what is comfortable for them.

  • Don’t fill the air with words. Compassionate silence.

  • “I’m so sorry” means condolences, not self-blame.

  • When they know
    When They Know Compassion

    • Support adults as they inform children.

    • Be supportive but allow natural supports of family, friends, clergy, etc. to kick in.

    • Answer questions truthfully but sensitively. State only what you know for sure. Do not make promises that can/will not be kept.

    • Be practical! Childcare? Food? Tissues? Work? Monitor the phone and door. Offer to make calls to clergy/family/friends. Document these calls because they will forget.

    • Make certain natural/professional supports are in place before you leave.

    Worst case scenarios
    Worst-Case Scenarios Compassion

    • You lose it.

    • They lose it.

    • Medical crisis.

    • Anger at self, each other, the company,…you.

    • Risk of self-harm.

    • No support for a solitary survivor.

    • Extreme attachment/dependency on you.

    Co worker notification

    Draw circles of impact. Compassion

    Position leadership as competent and compassionate.

    Triage – expect resiliency but prepare for additional supports.


    Co-Worker Notification

    ACT Compassion


    Acknowledge what has happened

    Deliver information with sensitivity

    Acknowledge the event’s impact upon people

    Acknowledge the event’s impact upon you

    Grant permission for a wide range of reactions

    Serves to: Demonstrate leadership strength, align the leader with those led, establish a platform for cohesiveness

    ACT Compassion


    Communicate competence and compassion

    Visible leadership communicates care and concern for those involved

    Summarize what has happened. This is what we know at this time….

    Present objective and credible information. OK to read a script. Stick with it!

    Serves to: control rumors, reduce anxiety, and return a sense of control to impacted individuals

    ACT Compassion

    Transition and Refer

    ALWAYS triage to next steps and a future focus

    Give people permission to care for themselves. It’s not irreverent or dishonoring to the deceased.

    Provide information about Coping – Emphasize resiliency

    Focus first on Practical Assistance -- determine basic and practical needs

    As indicated, link with Collaborative Services - transition individuals to appropriate level of support and provide information. (EAP, counseling center, community resources, written communications and web resources, telephonic support via a 1-800 number, to continued personal assistance/ intervention)

    What about you
    What About You? Compassion

    There is no greater honor and no greater responsibility than to be there on the worst day of someone’s life. We must do it well.

    Additional resources
    Additional Resources than to be there on the worst day of someone’s life. We must do it well.

    Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress


      US Office of Personnel Management


      CCN PracticePoints Archives