When Clients Die

When working with vulnerable populations, one of the unfortunate realities is that some clients will die. Death is part of life. Even when exercising professional boundaries, there is a bond formed with clients. With death, we need closure – even when a client is palliative and our work with clients was catered to the best possible end of life support. There are also pragmatic steps that must be considered in the event of a death that are best thought about and explained prior to a case manager or other staff member dealing with a client’s death.

Not all deaths have the same response from workers and organizations and we need to acknowledge that. The violent death of a middle age client may stir up different emotions than an older client that has been receiving care for several chronic illnesses. A sudden death through something like a heart attack may have a different reaction than a drug overdose. The death of a child in a family that a case manager is working with may cause different feelings than a suicide. And so on. I am not suggesting that any particular cause of death is better or worse than another