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Talking with families and children about the death of a parent 

Talking with families and children about the death of a parent
Talking with families and children about the death of a parent

Anna C. Muriel

and Paula K. Rauch

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date: 16 May 2022

The untimely death of a parent is one of the most challenging events for families and the clinicians who care for them. This chapter discusses how a basic knowledge of child development and the ways that children understand illness and death can provide a template from which to engage families about how to help their children during this time and into bereavement. It addresses such topics as how children understand death at different ages, timing of discussions with children, decisions about the setting for end-of-life care in a family context, visits between ill parents and children, legacy leaving, and children’s participation in funerals and memorial services. When clinicians support honest, child-centred communication, and help families anticipate common situations and questions, surviving adults are able to use their own best resources to provide thoughtful care for the children.

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