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Kids and grief: tips for health care providers

Andrea Warnick (RN, MA, Educational consultant and Grief Counsellor), offers tips for health care professionals on how to guide families with kids in discussing grief and illness. Transcripts parts were taken by interview provided to the Canadian Virtual Hospice, and was released by Creative Commons license.

I think it should actually be a standard of practice for health care providers who are working with a family, in which somebody has a terminal illness, or somebody’s dying… to ask them, “What are you saying to your kids?”, “Do you need guidance on how to support your kids about this?”.

There’s research actually showing that families want guidance from their health care professionals, but they often just don’t get it. I think often what’s holding healthcare professionals back is they’re worried that they don’t have the right information. Or, they’re worried that they’ll tell the families the wrong information.

That’s why I think it’s really important just to ask the families if they need guidance in this area. If nothing else (if you are a carer), know your resources, have a couple good books on hand, know local resources that you can call and get some guidance on, or at least point families in the right direction.

Any family member who has young children, or children of any age, if they get a terminal diagnosis, automatically they’re going to be thinking about “How do I talk to my kids?”, “How am I going to support my kids?”.

Thus, it’s really important for all healthcare professionals to just make it a standard of practice to ask if the families need guidance in supporting their kids.

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