The following case studies have been composed for the practicing caregiver to read through and to use
as a stimulant for thinking through and creating productive support and treatment plans in various grief and loss situations.
These case studies are strictly fictional scenarios. If they bear any resemblance to any known or actual cases, it is merely
CASE # 1
Michael and Ruth’s infant son named Derrick died at age three after falling from an exercise gym at the school playground.
Derrick lived or three days after the fall. At the funeral, both parents stood together at the pulpit in their church and
offered thanks to God for sparing their little boy from a “life of uncertainty in this sinful world”.
a). What can you discern from their statement as to how they are handling their grief
b). What might you want to say to them if they talk with you about Derrick’s
life later on?
CASE # 2 Darlene has been the single parent of her only son Timothy since he was 18 months
old. Timothy died at age nine from a complex series of diseases. At the end of the graveside service Darlene stretched her
arms across the top of the small casket and laid her head on the top of it sobbing uncontrollably for several minutes.
a). What is your diagnosis of this situation?
b). How long should she be allowed to continue this expression of grief?
CASE # 3 Steve’s wife and high school sweetheart Judy died at age 39, after a brief battle
with pancreatic cancer. While Steve appeared to do well during the first few days after the funeral, several weeks later Steve
had to leave a favorite restaurant suddenly because he found himself very emotionally distraught while eating supper with
another couple he and Judy used to eat with regularly. He tried to talk it out their only daughter Amy, who was attending
college in a nearby city, but she was very uncomfortable talking about it with her father.
a). If given the opportunity, how would you direct a conversation with Steve’s
b). What counsel would you give to Steve’s friends who were with him at the
restaurant that night?
CASE # 4
Rita’s twenty six year old son Jimmy lived with her all of his life. Jimmy has never able to hang onto a job for a long
time. He was killed one night in an automobile accident. Rita has been a widow for twelve years prior to Jimmy’s death.
She refuses to allow Jimmy’s only sister Susan, a CPA and her family come with her to make the funeral arrangements.
Jimmy is cremated without any funeral or memorial services.
a). Define what the possible relationship is between Rita and Susan is?
b). How would you be able to help Susan?
CASE # 5
Retired Army Captain Donald’s youngest son Nate, age thirty six, is found dead in his girlfriend’s car from an
apparent drug overdose. Because Nate had served two years in the Navy before receiving a medical discharge, Captain Donald
and his wife were in charge of the arrangements and focused Nate’s entire funeral around military rites and honors and
buried him at a National Cemetery.
a). What is your analysis of their relationship with Nate?
b). As a friend and caregiver, how would you start a conversation with them about
Nate in the future?
CASE# 6 Arnold has lived alone
most of his adult life. He has never married or been very socially active. He has always kept a couple of hunting dogs around
the house throughout his adult life. At age 65 after the last dog died, he chooses not to replace it with a new dog like he
has previously when one of the dogs would die. Instead he seems to be more quiet and withdrawn. He doesn’t go hunting
anymore and attends events like the county fair and his church less often.
a). If you could sit down with Arnold,
what are some things you would ask him?
b). How would you encourage him to think about the dogs?
CASE # 7
Seventy one year old Dan accidently found a suicide note while cleaning out his daughter Kim’s car a month after her
funeral. It took him two days to be able to read it completely. He refused to show the note to his ex wife, Kim’s mother,
Sandy, even though they were both aware that Kim had committed suicide. Six months later Dan confides in you about the note.
a). What advice would you give him regarding the note?
b). What would you say to Sandy
if she learned of the note and that you knew about it?
CASE # 8 Eddie and Hannah are both eighteen year old high school graduates. Hannah ends up
pregnant and miscarries at the end of her first trimester. Eddie appears to be relieved, but Hannah is overcome with grief
for the loss of her baby. Her expressions of grief are the total opposite of Eddie’s absence of grief.
a). How would you express compassion and support to Hannah?
b). How would you talk to Eddie if he asked you to help Hannah “get over it”?
CASE # 9 Sam and Jenny’s
daughter Dianne recently died from a severe form of cancer at age sixteen. Because of the symptoms of the disease, she was
badly disfigured on one side of her face. Both of Sam’s parents are very insistent that either the casket be closed
or that they have her cremated and have a memorial service at a later date. Both Sam and Jenny find their suggestions to be
against their own desires. Dianne’s younger brother agrees strongly with Sam’s parents (his grandparents).
a). Identify the major relational problem in this situation.
b). What should Sam and Jenny do to help the family grieve together in a unified
CASE # 10 Patty’s mother died last month. Reluctantly, her son Jason, attended his grandmother’s
funeral. Jason has refused to talk about his grandmother or share any feelings about himself or the funeral. Patty’s
husband Wayne sees no need to force Jason to talk about it. One day Patty noticed that a picture of her mother was missing
from the living room. Later on that week she discovered it laying on the bed side stand in Jason’s room.
a). If you could give some advice to Wayne
what would you say?
b). If Patty sat down
and talked with you about her son and husband what would you be listening for?