Suffering, Loss and Grief in Palliative Care
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine / WA Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care
Background: The stress associated with advancing and incurable illness inevitably causes distress for patients, families and caregivers. A palliative approach to care aims to improve the quality of life for patients with a life limiting illness by reducing suffering through early identification, assessment and optimal management of pain, physical, cultural, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Objective: This article outlines some of the psychosocial issues in palliative care and offers communication strategies for general practitioners to use to elicit concerns. It also discusses anticipatory and complicated grief, and provides some useful resources. Discussion: There is much that can be done by GPs, in collaboration with other services, to alleviate distress and suffering in people with a life limiting illness. In order to provide support for dying patients and their families, GPs also need to care for themselves.