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The Women's and Children's Hospital is located on the traditional lands for the Kaurna people, and we respect their spiritual relationship with their Country. We also acknowledge that the Kaurna people are the custodians of the Adelaide region, and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Grief Support Following the Death of a Child

The grief support section of this web site aims to assist people facing the death of a baby, young child, adolescent or young adult, and those supporting them.


Welcome to the grief support pages of the Women's and Children's Hospital website. These pages aim to assist people facing the death of a baby, young child, adolescent or young adult, and those supporting them.

In today's society, the death of a child is considered to go against the natural life cycle. Trauma and illness are the common causes of death in childhood1 and the grief experience is profound for the child's family, friends and community.

From the time a child is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness each family member experiences feelings of loss and grief – the child, parents, brothers or sisters, grandparents and extended family. In addition to struggling with the meaning of the diagnosis and the many changes this brings, families experience the loss of hopes and dreams for the future. This is often described as 'early grief', 'anticipatory grief' or 'pre-emptive grief'. It's important to understand that this is a normal part of living with a child with a life-limiting illness. Feelings of grief can surface at any time and it may be helpful to understand how different people express their feelings of loss.

When a child dies it is deeply distressing for parents and families. If they have died suddenly by accident, murder or suicide, the grief can be more difficult and complicated. The special circumstances associated with sudden death often include emergency services, the police, safety investigators, the health system, and the justice and court system.


The website was developed by the Paediatric Palliative Care Service of the Women's and Children's Hospital, South Australia.

We gratefully acknowledge the funding support provided by the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation.


If you have any queries or feedback about the content of the grief support web pages, please contact us via the following email address:

1ABS, 2006

"The reality is that we don't forget, move on, and have closure, but rather we honor, we remember, and incorporate our deceased children and siblings into our lives in a new way. In fact, keeping memories of your loved one alive in your mind and heart is an important part of your healing journey."

~ Harriet Schiff, author of The Bereaved Parent

Next: What is grief?