Bereavement care reimagined

Julian Abel*, Allan Kellehear, Samar M. Aoun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bereavement, a specific kind of grief in response to a death, has been embedded in human history, in cultural patterns, with ritual, ceremony, and community kindness being the mainstay of grief support. The advent of professionalised grief counselling has seen the increasing domination of professional support as the best way to support someone bereaved, with a consequent loss of the varied forms of community support. The availability of professional grief counselling is limited, with only a small percentage of bereaved people accessing it or needing to access it. In this article, we argue for a realignment of professional grief services, strengthening community actions, and reorientation of health care in keeping with the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. Community sources of grief support are being reinvented in multiple ways. Professional services can develop links and relationships with these communities of support. A population-based public health approach to bereavement care is needed. This can only be achieved through communities and professionals working together. This partnership working underlines three implications for practice. These are (I) love and friendship must be the bedrock of support for grief and loss and the strengthening of these supports should be the priority for all therapeutic and social actions, (II) the multiple and varied community and civic sector sources of grief support should be the mainstay of the bereaved, and (III) bereavement professionals should work in the context of community, linking their clients with sustainable community supports.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-825
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of palliative medicine
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

Cite this