Grief Support – Information for Professionals
This information is to assist professionals caring for the child and their family, whether as part of a school community, health care facility or those who attend trauma cases.
Children are our future. The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" resonates in society, because many people interact with children and share a sense of care for them. Children grow and develop in their homes, schools, sporting clubs, churches and community. Serious illness and/or death of a child is confronting for professionals caring for the child and their families experiencing their death, both by the rarity of the event in society, and the suffering experienced by the child, parents and the child's extended community.
The following information is to assist professionals caring for the child and their family, whether as part of a school community, health care facility or those who attend trauma cases.
Quality of care is not limited to professional expertise but is greatly affected by what each care giver as individuals, and as members of a professional team, bring into the relationship with children, adolescents and parents. It is critical to understand how caregiver's values, attitudes, and beliefs affect those served, and also to understand that they themselves are also affected by the challenges, uncertainties, hopes, and losses they experience.1
Caring for children and their families in the context of health care is often discussed in terms of family centred care, but Liben and Papadatou suggest the relationship-centred approach offers the child and their family, and the professional serving them, 'the opportunity for increased self-awareness, new learning, positive changes and personal growth in the midst of uncertainty and hope'.2
The three important aspects the professional needs to care for the dying or deceased child and their family are:
- understanding grief
- professional boundaries
Understanding grief and bereavement – links
For health care professionals – click on the links below for practical information about bereavement care.
- 'Bereavement', Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne.
- What is grief?
- First 48 hours
- Grieving children
- Family and friends
- Grief resources
1 Liben, S & Papadatou, D. 2011, Self-Care: The foundation of care giving, in Textbook of Interdisciplinary Paediatric Palliative Care, p.170.
2 Liben, S & Papadatou, D. 2011, Self-Care: The foundation of care giving, in Textbook of Interdisciplinary Paediatric Palliative Care, p.170.
"To understand 'normal' grief we need to know the person who is grieving - all that they have been and experienced, all of their reactions to life events. We all grieve as we have lived."
~ Di McKissock 2013
"In order to work with a truly flexible and empathic approach one has to be able to tolerate a pervasive experience of discomfort and ambiguity."
~ Sara Fleming, Nurse Practitioner