How to Support a Dying Child

How to Support a Dying Child

There’s nothing more difficult than the thought of losing a child. After all, we expect to lose our parents at some point in our lifetime, but never a child. If your child has a terminal illness, or you are close to or caring for a child at the end of life, the most important thing you can do is support them throughout their journey.

It may seem easy to become overwhelmed with the immense responsibility of caring for a dying child, but with the right support and some education from the experts, you can make an incredible difference in his or her life. Here are some steps to take during the final months of life as you cope with this tragic loss.

1. Openness

Children understand more than we know, and a child who has dealt with a terminal diagnosis likely has a better grasp of what’s going on than we might think. It may seem appropriate to sugarcoat the situation, but for the child, that can become confusing and may make the situation even more painful. It may be difficult, but talking about death in a broad sense may make the conversation a bit easier.

If your child has questions about death or loved ones who have passed, do your best to be honest. They likely have fears and general anxiety around the subject, just as we all do, and understanding what is in store for all of us can actually make a major difference in how they cope. Depending on how old the child is, you can gauge the appropriate responses. A toddler may be unable to understand the concept or even want to ask about it, but older children may have a foggier understanding from friends, community members, books, television, and more sources. However they come to you, be ready to support them with open and honest communication in a way that feels appropriate.

2. Reassurance

If and when your child shares fears around the subject of death, reassure them that life does not end when we are gone off this earth. We will always be remembered by our loved ones, and reminding your child that they will live in the hearts of everyone they’ve touched can be an extremely comforting thought.

There is no benefit in hiding your pain as you go through this difficult time, and it can be counterproductive to put up a tough front. This is obviously a hard place to be in for you and your family, but when talking with your child, try to alleviate the guilt that many children feel as they reach the end. Children often express a fear of leaving behind loved ones. It’s important to reassure them that, while you love them more than life itself, it’s that love that will help you continue on.

3. Care

Providing quality care to anyone at the end of life is vital. It can be a burden on families to go through this experience alone, and with bills, jobs, and other necessary duties to worry about, it may become completely overwhelming. But, the good thing is, you never have to do it alone.

Hospice care isn’t just an option for the elderly or older individuals dying of cancer or another terminal illness. Children’s hospice care is available and can make a huge difference in the lives of families who are supporting a terminally ill child. Hospice nurses can provide palliative care to improve quality of life during the end, and will not only life some of the burden off you and those around you, but can also lift some burden off the child, since they’ll know they have a qualified professional helping them every step of the way.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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