Breaking Bad News

  • Ask the family if there is anyone else they want to contact, or to be with them there now, and how your organisation might help.
  • The family should be left to deliver the message to other family members themselves, but your organisation may be able to help with transport.
  • Ask the family who they would like to nominate on their side as a point of contact. They should also be given a single contact person within your organisation who will keep them up to date and find answers to any questions they have. Agree what times that person can be contacted.
  • Find out what the family members need to do after you leave — collect children, talk with other family members, etc — and whether your organisation can help.
  • Ask if there is anything that they need you to do/want you to find out.
  • Tell them what you are going to do next.
  • Where there are questions about logistics, reassure the family that your organisation will deal with all the arrangements for bringing the body back to the UK or caring for the injured colleague, and that you will keep them informed. You may in due course need other information such as which funeral directors who will be bringing the body back.
  • To remind, under no circumstances should you let the bereaved drive themselves anywhere after receiving this communication.