Funeral attendance provides support to both the family and the professional, and is a professional activity rather than a personal one.
On the question of funeral attendance the report, Saying goodbye: An audit of bereavement services in the Women's and Children's Hospital Network, states1:
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.
- 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.
1 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.
"When we are moved to go outside the square, or to 'walk extra miles' for one patient, one family, we need first to ask ourselves the question 'could I do this for 100 patients, or 100 families?' If the answer is 'NO', it probably means that we shouldn't do it for one. It might be better to express our truth by saying 'I wish it was possible for me to...' or 'I wish I could do so much more to help'... or 'I wish I had a magic wand'."
~ Di McKissock 2013