Talking Grief, Death and Dying

By: Samantha Rennie – Community Education Manager, Tobin Brothers Funerals
Friday, January 17, 2014

Death, dying and grief are issues that constantly confront health care professionals and yet many of these dedicated people barely recognise the experience of grief or are familiar with the varied spiritual and emotional responses required to support patients through dying, death and funerals in our multicultural and multifaith society.

As community Educator for Tobin Brothers Funerals and as a nurse educator I love to open people eyes to the broader experience of grief and to help them understand that it is not just something that occurs when someone we love dies but is caused when anything that has had significant meaning to us is lost.  This may be a loss of health, independence, control, respect and dignity, or any one of a number of other issues.  Response by health care professionals to such losses may be seen as difficult behaviour and ignored. If the Health Care professional is to provide for the holistic care of people, he or she needs to understand what a patient, particularly one confronted by terminal illness, is experiencing.

When a patient is dying we can no longer ignore the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of our patients. This becomes a complex issue as we care for individuals, who come from different families, cultures and religions. All of that influences each patients needs at the time of dying and death. Knowledge of these needs helps carers provide better care.

I read in the age 9th of December, 2013 about a Jewish Doctor who was working with an indigenous patient who had been in hospital for a long time and was not getting better. He took her outside to the land she knew and let her discuss in her own way, her needs. As a result, she was soon on the road to recovery.  This is a powerful illustration of how understanding a patient’s grief, culture, religion and individual needs, can be of untold benefit.

There are more health care professionals caring for people who die outside of palliative care than within palliative care and yet the training of these aspects is not always addressed.

With this in mind Tobin Brothers Funerals is providing talks, at no charge,  to health care professionals that introduce these vital topics and give healthcare professionals a chance to see grief death and dying from their patient’s perspective.


Topics include: 'Caring for grieving patients in a multicultural and religious society' and 'Your patient has died. What happens next?'

To find out more about where and when go to and click on the events page.

Below is a video snapshot of an education talk given to Health Care Professionals last year at the Tobin Brothers Funerals Chapel in Doncaster:





“Hi Samantha, I have just attended the talk at Tobin Brothers, I didn’t have chance to complete a feedback form as I had to continue to work for night duty. I just wanted to thank you for an excellent evening, it was thought provoking and insightful, I have just ordered “Healing without Freud etc”, and plan to visit the Hindu temple asap. Please pass on my appreciation to your colleagues.”

Helen Griffiths


“Dear Sam, thank you for a very interesting lecture at (Tobin Brothers Funerals) Echuca  branch last week. I was very surprised by the quality and context of the education and its relevance to my role as a registered nurse. All of the team that attended from Murrayvale Aged care all thought likewise. Your lecture has provoked some interesting and normally difficult discussions  in our tea room  this week and has led to a lot of reflective care discussions that I feel will be a positive for our clients…..if not indeed our own  practices and beliefs. Please could you add my name for the next lecture on Monday the 5th of July. We are looking forward to the next session ……Thank you once again.”

Jill Storer RN div 1
Murrayvale aged care


Written by Samantha Rennie – Community Education Manager, Tobin Brothers Funerals


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