We review the literature on mourning in the family. The tasks and processes of mourning are described in terms of the family. Which features of the family determine the impact and meaning of a loss. The family lifecycle appears to be an illuminating framework in this. A host of phenomena have been said to be indicative of pathological mourning: the occurrence of patterns of destructive relationships after a loss, the issue of substitution, and undue emphasis on homeostasis in the family. This results in interferance with normal family development, the adoption and maintenance of disfunctional boundaries and a strong resistance to new relationships. Advantages and disadvantages of adopting a family approach when dealing with unresolved mourning are discussed. A family approach does not necessarily mean family therapy. We encourage taking on a family approach when dealing with unresolved mourning. The engagement of these families poses specific problems and may be crucial for any kind of treatment. A clinical vignette illustrates most issues.