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Grief and Bereavement in Perinatal and Pediatric Palliative Care 

Grief and Bereavement in Perinatal and Pediatric Palliative Care
Grief and Bereavement in Perinatal and Pediatric Palliative Care

Rana Limbo

, Kathie Kobler

, and Betty Davies

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date: 07 July 2020

The diagnosis of a life-threatening condition in a young child (including the unborn) brings staggering grief when the prognosis predicts the likelihood of an early death. The diagnoses range from genetic or chromosomal disorders that will cause death either during pregnancy or shortly after birth to malignancy, severe prematurity, and trauma, among others. Perinatal and pediatric palliative care are discussed from the standpoint of relationship, highlighting nursing care that focuses on a theory of teaching and learning—guided participation. As family members learn to deal with their own and their child’s suffering and physical condition, the nurse joins with them in identifying how relational, task-related, and emotional competencies can be attained and maintained by establishing new goals (regoaling) and hopes. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss grief as a life-long, relational process. The trajectory of grief reflects how survivors of loving relationships maintain closeness and connection, cherishing dear ones who are no longer physically present. The authors highlight grief theory and provide examples of clinical application. Chapter content also includes practical strategies for grief assessment and supporting bereaved parents and children. Finally, the authors focus on how healthcare providers are affected by the intensity of bearing witness to the child’s, family’s, and other team members’ suffering.

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