Family Focused Grief Therapy: A Model of Family-Centered Care during Palliative Care and Bereavement

By David W. Kissane; Sidney Bloch | Go to book overview

7 The impact of specific
life events upon families

Challenges that occur during the conduct of FFGT are broadly related to the therapeutic process and concurrent life events. In Chapter 6, we considered the issues that arise from the therapeutic process, including the therapist's interventions. In this chapter, our focus is on a range of life events that may coincide with a family member dying and add to the strain of the situation. Any cumulative experience of loss or threat can overwhelm the usual coping capacity of both individuals and families. There are many examples of these, ranging from job loss to the unexpected accident, injury or marital breakdown. We take up particular examples below because of their noteworthiness to palliative care – the occurrence of more than one cancer in the family; other illnesses such as alcoholism, mental and physical disorders; adopted children; remarriage; families with younger children; and those influenced by migration.


'Double cancer' in a family

Periodically, oncology services meet families struck by the occurrence of a 'double cancer'. Sometimes both parents are simultaneously ill, leaving their children bewildered about their personal needs for consolation and support. In other instances, a parent and a child may be affected, with different rates of illness progression, again raising distressing questions about relative needs. Such difficult and stressful circumstances would exacerbate any family's distress and anxiety. Our family approach provides a forum in which to explore this dilemma.

Intense grief was found in a family in which mother and one daughter
both had cancer. These circumstances provided both opportunity and

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