Options for support
Children's Mercy offers several patient and family services such as a hospital-wide memorial service annually for all families who have had a child die that was cared for by Children's Mercy, memory items, a grief resource brochure, quarterly support groups, aftercare bereavement follow-up from Children's Mercy staff periodically in the first year after death of the child, and hospital mailings on Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the winter holidays.
Child life bereavement support
Child Life Specialists provide bereavement support by collaborating with the patient, family and medical team to gather and share information pertinent to the patient and family's specific needs and wishes regarding the death of a family member. The Child Life Department also provides Sibling Grief Bags for siblings of a patient that has died at Children's Mercy. These bags provide comfort items and resources that will enable the sibling to begin to cope with the death of their brother/sister. Materials are based on the sibling's developmental stage and cognitive understanding of death and dying. Resources are also provided for the parents and/or caregivers of the siblings on how to speak with children about death and dying, children's understanding of death, and how to involve children with funeral or memorial planning.
How to help a grieving child:
These lessons have been adapted from the book 35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child.
1. Answer the questions they ask. Even the hard ones.
2. Give the child choices whenever possible.
3. Talk about and remember the person who died.
4. Respect differences in grieving styles.
5. Listen without judgment.
6. Hold a memorial service and allow for saying goodbye.
7. Take a break.