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May 4, 1963

The Dying Patient's Grief

JAMA. 1963;184(5):329-331. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700180055007

Since the full significance of dying, for a patient, includes the anticipated loss of all of his human relationships, a significant element of his response to the awareness of impending death is a type of grief not too different from the anticipatory grief of his potential survivors. This concept of the emotional response to dying helps to clarify some of the individual differences among patients and some of the changes in a patient's reactions as the terminal course progresses. The concept also suggests to the physician that his communication with his dying patient should be couched in terms that will permit the patient either to deny or to accept death, as his current emotional needs require.