Background: The death of a family member in the intensive care unit (ICU) is often sudden and unexpected and may have a strong impact on family members. Objective: To describe the characteristics of bereavement, to find out if there is a need for follow-up bereavement service and to determine if the information and care in the ICU is sufficient for relatives of deceased ICU patients. Methods: An exploratory cross-sectional study using a structured telephone interview in 51 relatives, in a 10 bed adult mixed medical-surgical ICU. Respondents were selected according to three criteria; (1) their relative had died between June 2008 and June 2009 in the ICU, (2) they were involved during the ICU stay preceding death and (3) had sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language. Results: A majority (77%) was satisfied with the delivered ICU-care and the information provided. Most common complaints concerned communication and the information provided. Almost all the respondents (90%) understood the fatal sequence of events during the dying process. Subsequently, a substantial portion of the respondents (37%) complained about 'sleeping problems'. The need for a follow-up bereavement service was reported by 35% of the respondents. Conclusions: Despite a high level of satisfaction with the care provided in the ICU many respondents considered a follow-up bereavement service potentially useful to deal with the death of the family member and to get remaining questions answered. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.