futureapppsy2

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I just received news that my client died. This is the first time I have had this happen and I'm still in shock. For those who have had clients die, how have you dealt with it?

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By what (general) means?

Talk to your supervisor, definitely.
 
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Justanothergrad

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You feel sad, and comfort yourself knowing you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.
This.

It's not your job to keep them from this. That would be unfair to us as providers. It is your job to do your best to provide resources and support for them to make decisions that you hope are healthy.
 

LadyHalcyon

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Thanks for the responses. I definitely will process this with my supervisor Monday. I have always suspected this would happen, especially given the population I work with, but it still feels so strange to me.

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ellenew

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Been there. I work in pediatric palliative care frequently. First, discuss with your supervisor. Second, self care.
 
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EmotRegulation

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If the client died by suicide, there are a number of resources for therapist loss survivors (e.g. therapists who have lost a client to suicide) on the website for the American Association of Suicidology (Clinician Survivors).
Many of those resources are helpful even if the client did not die by suicide. There is VERY little published on therapists responding to clients who died by any method other than suicide. Which I know because I experienced the death of a client in grad school, and it was definitely not a clear suicide but also not either natural or a freak accident, and I felt in no-mans land. But the clinician survivor resources were definitely helpful even if they didn't speak to my exact experience.
 

jdawg2017

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Tagging this thread as someone training in geropsychology and clinical neuropsych with an emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases.

Even if this was a suicide and not death due to another cause, I agree with others that the survivor complex extends across the why/how a client died.

Really sorry to hear this, OP. I've been lucky yet where patients I have seen have not yet died (to my knowledge), but many of them will probably die in the next 5-10 years.
 
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I am so sorry to hear this. I haven’t had a client die but I have had several patients with terminal illness die as I was working in a research setting in a hospital. It is hard. The first experience was the worst because it’s so shocking, even when you know someone is sick and has limited time, it’s still shocking. It’s still hard after the first time but I think bc the first time is so shocking its extra hard. Definitely self-care and confide in fellow counselors if you feel comfortable doing so. It’s okay to cry about it. If this were a long term client you had exceptionally strong rapport with I would imagine it would be even harder. Thinking of you!
 
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NeuroLady

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Part of one rotation on internship is hospice/palliative care. Many of my clients have died (both unexpectedly and as expected) and it never gets easier (or has yet to). There are some things that I've found helpful: Discussing the taboo topic of death with supervisors and colleagues, weekly team meetings where discussions of particularly difficult cases are encouraged, and attending hospital memorial services (I didn't attend these at first but making the time for it has been a nice way to see the families and honor our clients). I hope you find, or have found, a source of support.
 
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I've gone through client loss several times, by suicide, unintentional overdose, and natural means. I truly, deeply empathize with your shock and grief.

I didn't have a very supportive supervisor the first time, the client was a minor, and the circumstances were awful. Thankfully I was a part of an interdisciplinary team, and there were numerous other professionals involved the client's care and I was able to be a part of a process group related to the loss. Additionally, the family requested that all who were comfortable attend the funeral, and I chose to do that as well. In other losses, I have chosen other ways to honor and remember, such as AFSP walks, donations to organizations that represent the individual, or simple personal memorials in nature (planting a tree, hiking to a special place, playing a song or reading a particular poem someplace that feels reverent).