Information for professionals – funeral attendance

On the question of funeral attendance the report, Saying goodbye: An audit of bereavement services in the Women's and Children's Hospital Network, states18;

The [parent] survey data showed that, for those who mentioned staff attendance at their child’s funeral, it was very much appreciated. However, as the literature reported, discrepancies in staff attendance can be a source of distress for some parents.

The [staff] focus groups revealed, [ ] there are a number of different practices across different wards in relation to whether staff are encouraged to attend funerals or not, and to what extent they see it as a professional activity.

The report recommends the organisation recognises the need for clinical representation, while ensuring consistency in attendance across family/client groups.

Recommendations

Funeral attendance:

  • provides support to both the family and the professional
  • is a professional activity rather than a personal one
  • requires consistent and equitable behaviour on the part of the professional
  • declare funeral attendance to colleagues
  • seek support and schedule self-care after the funeral.

Points to consider for an organisation:

  • have an organisation based policy re attendance
  • employer support to attend in work time
  • attend as professional with uniform/badge on display
  • inform work about attendance even out of work hours
  • provide support for attendees – consider type and timing of follow-up after attending
  • limit numbers of attendees and ensure equity to all families.

 

19 Kotey, J. Duffield, J & Fleming, S. 2012, Saying goodbye: An audit of
     bereavement services in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Network
, pp. 37-39.

Next: Cultural considerations