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Bereavement in adult life

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 22 August 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:538

GPs should be accessible, not intrusive

  1. David Mazza, General practitioner
  1. Howden Health Centre, Livingston EH54 6TP
  2. Sobell House, Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LJ
  3. St Christopher's Hospice, London SE26 6DZ

    EDITOR—Parkes summarises issues associated with bereavement in adulthood but risks medicalising a fundamental life experience.1 The concept that grief is a process with discrete phases which must be passed through before final adjustment to the loss can take place has been challenged.2 A more sociological model would suggest that rather than working their way through a range of emotions, bereaved people attempt to construct an accurate story about the life of the deceased which allows their memory of the dead to become part of their lives. This biography is created by people who knew the individual, not by detached professionals.

    Many general practitioners try to visit families at home shortly after a death has occurred; this may be, at least partially, related to the general practitioner's own needs since there is no compelling evidence that it is beneficial to the family. Indeed, it may be that a general practitioner's desire to do something to ease the pain of bereavement leads to more prescribing …

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