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Caring for the Terminally Ill Child

Anticipatory Grief
Anticipatory Grief What is anticipatory grief? Anticipatory grief is similar to the normal process of mourning, but it occurs before the actual death (in anticipation of the death). While mourning is usually discussed in context of the family and loved ones of a dying person, anticipatory grief can be experienced by the family, loved ones, and the child dying. Anticipatory grief occurs before death, often as a result of a terminal diagnosis or a life-threatening illness, when death is a possibility. Thi...
For Parents: Important Decisions to Be Made in the Dying Process
For Parents: Important Decisions to Be Made in the Dying Process There are many important decisions to be made when a child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, including the following: Right to refuse treatment. The child and family have the right to refuse treatment. Often, options for treatment are offered that may extend the child's life, but not provide a cure. The quality of life should be considered as well as the possibility of extending it. Decision to die in the home versus hospital setting. ...
Psychosocial Needs of the Dying Child
Psychosocial Needs of the Dying Child The child with a terminal illness has the same need for love, emotional support, and normal activities as any person facing death. Love, respect, and dignity are all important factors in caring for a dying child. The following psychosocial needs of the dying child should be considered: Time to be a child. Engage in age-appropriate activities for children, such as age-appropriate play. Communication/listening/expression of fears or anger. The child should have someon...
Supportive/Palliative Care
Supportive/Palliative Care What is supportive (palliative) care? Supportive, or palliative, care is care aimed at comfort versus cure and treatment. The decision to accept palliative care versus aggressive treatment is often a decision parents struggle with. It is an acceptance of a poor prognosis and an opportunity to provide a very special kind of care to a loved one. The dying process requires as much care and respect as the other stages in life. It is only through this care and respect that parents ...
The Dying Process
The Dying Process The body goes through many changes in the dying process. Knowing the common symptoms of impending death may help families and children be prepared for them when they occur. In some cases, the dying process can be very long. Understanding the physical and mental changes the body goes through as death occurs, may help alleviate some fears and misconceptions about death. Always discuss any concerns or questions with your child's doctor. The following is a list of common symptoms that deat...
Hospice
Hospice What is hospice care? Hospice is a type of palliative care that provides services to improve the quality of life for the family and child. The word "hospice" literally means "a place of shelter." Hospice settings and home-hospice care provide extensive services to terminally ill children. Care usually involves relieving symptoms and providing psychological and social support for the patient and family. To qualify for hospice care, a patient usually has a life expectancy of less than six months. ...
Physical Needs of the Dying Child
Physical Needs of the Dying Child Meeting the physical needs of the dying child are aimed at providing as much comfort as possible. The change from curing to caring means providing comfort to the child with the least invasive procedures, while maintaining his or her privacy and dignity. A terminally ill child has many of the same needs as any seriously ill child, including: A routine for sleep and rest. Lack of sleep may be caused by the number of visitors, discomfort, fear of not waking up, restlessnes...
Grief and Bereavement
Grief and Bereavement Everyone grieves in his or her own unique way. The process of grieving is often long and painful for all who knew the child. This can include parents, siblings, relatives, friends, peers, teachers, nurses, neighbors, and anyone who understands the loss of a child. What are the physical and emotional signs and symptoms of grief? The emotional and physical expressions of grief are often the most obvious part of mourning. Everyone expresses sadness and loss in different ways. There ar...
A Child's Concept of Death
A Child's Concept of Death Every child, at any age, has his or her own unique concept of death. Past experiences with death for the terminally ill child, as well as, his or her age, emotional development, and surroundings are what most influence a child's own concept of death. Cartoons, movies, television, video games, and even books are filled with images of death. The child with a terminal condition has, most likely, previously experienced death by loss of a family member, friend, or pet. An adult's m...
Discussing Death with Children
Discussing Death with Children Most children of all ages need honest and accurate information regarding their illness, treatment plan, treatment options, and prognosis. Children communicate their fears and concerns in many ways: crying, acting out, through playing and drawing, asking repeated simple questions, ignoring others, seeking information from others, and writing letters. Let your child or teen know that these feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, and fear are all acceptable. It is important to...