(c) If the patient does not want to talk, communicate nonverbally to
indicate a sense of caring and concern.
Keep the patient as comfortable as possible.
Maintain emotional support for the family.
Communicate to the patient that he will not be forgotten.
The medical specialist can be of great help during those final moments if
he can understand the family's conflicts at this time and help select the one
person who feels most comfortable staying with the patient. Those who feel
too uncomfortable can return home knowing the patient will not die alone, yet
not feeling guilty for having avoided the moment of death which, for many
people, is so difficult to face.
COPING WITH DEATH AND DYING IN A COMBAT ENVIRONMENT
Health care provided by the medical specialist includes the following.
a. Make the casualty as comfortable as possible.
b. If possible, find someone who can sit with the soldier (hopefully, a buddy from
c. Offer to take care of unfinished business or notify family, if possible.
The buddy of the deceased, or whomever is with the casualty at the time of his
death, can provide feedback to include when the soldier died and where the
d. Encourage the casualty to express feelings of grief.
e. If possible, make time for a brief service of some sort, however simple.
The expression of grief is important to prevent post-combat psychological
problems of those who saw their buddies killed in action. Many of the mental
health professionals now treating combat veterans with post-traumatic stress
disorders feel that too often the soldiers didn't allow themselves to grieve for
their buddies at the time (or soon after), and so are still haunted by them today.