Sunday, March 28, 2010

When Children Die

[Author photo]
The news can evoke sudden tears or sudden silence:  when a child dies, the world turns upside down...because life is not supposed to end before it has really begun.

In a newsletter published by Hospice of Michigan, pediatric hospice programs were described. Some of the goals are:
  • creating memories through meaningful activities
  • encouraging goodbyes
  • assuring comfort and quality of life for the child, and
  • helping a grieving family find new meaning
Can your sympathy fit into this program? Absolutely; and the hospice model can offer us insights for crafting memorable condolence. 

For example: the spiritual and emotional components of hospice care guide expression during the journey to death, rather than dictate feelings or actions.

So, a good condolence acknowledges the pain and offers to listen. If the note says that you are praying for their comfort, do not tell the recipient to pray, as well. Express a sweet memory in your note, along with the hope to hear some of theirs. And if possible, you offer help with chores, errands, or bills.

Finally, I encourage you to grow in awareness of what it means to lose a child. Visit sites of organizations supporting parents who have faced a child's death: The Compassionate Friends and Parents of Murdered Children are two such groups. Both were invaluable during my book research.

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