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Communicating with children when a parent is dying 

Communicating with children when a parent is dying
Communicating with children when a parent is dying

Cynthia W. Moore

and Paula K. Rauch

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date: 11 December 2018

Concerns about dependent children are prominent, and distressing, for parents diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Helping parents feel prepared to talk with children about their illness and possible death, at any stage of illness, has the potential to alleviate distress in both parents and children. This chapter provides a summary of how children at different ages understand and respond to a death, and offers suggestions about how clinicians can support parents’ open communication with their children about illness and death, based on the child’s developmental stage, and phase of illness and treatment. Clinicians can start by making the effort to ask parents about their children, to learn a bit about child development, and to identify or create some resources for these families.

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