Table 1

Goals for the encounter with families of dying patients

Goals during the encounterUseful statements
Goal 1: prepare the family for the upcoming events‘We are doing our best to resuscitate your relative and his condition is severe’
‘Now I will return to be part of the treating team but I will continue to update you in 10–20 min’
Goal 2: convey to the family that their relative received the needed therapy‘Your relative received the best possible therapy and I believe that even in the leading hospitals in the world the same therapies would be used’
Goal 3: help the family reach acceptance and leave the hospital accepting the death of their relative‘It is the end’, ‘we stopped are efforts as biology forced us to realise it is the end’, ‘we are sorry but we lost the battle’
Goal 4: reduce or alleviate guilt feeling‘We had done everything to prevent pain’ or ‘your relative was fortunate with such a devoted family’
Goal 5: help the family as a single entity and maintain their unity‘This kind of situation can break or unite families and I am sure that your relative’s wish was that you will unite’