Ethical issues in grief may emerge from three sources. First are general issues for counselors. Grieving persons can be highly vulnerable. Counselors have to have personal integrity and follow the ethical standards of their profession, including maintaining confidentiality, preventing harm to the client or others, assuring competence, and upholding standards of professional behavior. Counselors should familiarize themselves with their respective codes of ethics. They may wish to review as well the Code of Ethics of the Association for Death Education and Counseling.
In addition to the normal standards of professional conduct, counselors should be aware of two other ethic-related issues that might arise in grief counseling. Ethical issues within the course of the medical treatment of the deceased person may affect responses to grief. For example, a person who decided to terminate treatment may struggle with that issue within the grief process. In similar ways, ethical decisions made after the death—such as the disposition of the remains or inheritance—may also be reviewed in the grieving process. For example, the deceased may make requests regarding the disposition of remains or property that families may be reluctant to follow. Such situations can exacerbate grief—intensifying guilt or anger and causing conflicts that lessen mutual support and add concurrent stresses.
Was this article helpful?