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Hospital memorial service bereavement support
  1. Andrew Harper1 and
  2. Karen Willis2
  1. 1 Pastoral Care, Allied Health, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Karen Willis, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; K.Willis{at}


Background Pastoral care in an acute hospital setting necessarily includes some bereavement support for families of patients who die. Termed universal bereavement support, an important component of such support is provision of educational information to assist bereaved people struggling with grief. This project aimed to understand, from the perspective of those attending, the value of providing a memorial service for remembering a loved one and whether the education provided at the service successfully met the requirement of a universal bereavement support strategy.

Methods A qualitative study, comprising a semistructured telephone interview with memorial service attendees was undertaken. Data were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results Twenty-nine attendees participated. Three themes provided insights into attendees’ perceptions. The first theme encapsulated the value of remembering and celebrating the life of the deceased; the second theme focused on ‘finding our way through the grief process’ including the value of the educational materials ; and the third theme identified appreciation for the hospital in providing care to those bereaved.

Conclusion The memorial service provides a valued universal bereavement support strategy and such support strategies are an important part in the process of grieving for many attendees.

  • bereavement
  • hospital care

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  • Contributors Both AH and KW planned and wrote the study protocol; KW trained interviewers, who were then supervised by AH. AH undertook initial coding and KW coded and analysed the data. AH and KW both drafted the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.