Background: Infection control measures during infectious disease outbreaks can have significant impacts on seriously ill and dying patients, their family, the patient-family connection, coping, grief and bereavement. Aim: To explore how family members of patients who are seriously ill or who die during infectious disease outbreaks are supported and cared for during serious illness, before and after patient death and the factors that influence family presence around the time of death. Design: Systematic review and narrative synthesis. Data sources: CINAHL, Medline, APA PsycInfo and Embase were searched from inception to June 2020. Forward and backward searching of included papers were also undertaken. Records were independently assessed against inclusion criteria. Included papers were assessed for quality, but none were excluded. Findings: Key findings from 14 papers include the importance of communication and information sharing, as well as new ways of using virtual communication. Restrictive visiting practices were understood, but the impact of these restrictions on family experience cannot be underestimated, causing distress and suffering. Consistent advice and information were critical, such as explaining personal protective equipment, which family found constraining and staff experienced as affecting interpersonal communication. Cultural expectations of family caregiving were challenged during infectious disease outbreaks. Conclusion: Learning from previous infectious disease outbreaks about how family are supported can be translated to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future infectious disease outbreaks. Consistent, culturally sensitive and tailored plans should be clearly communicated to family members, including when any restrictions may be amended or additional supports provided when someone is dying.