Chapter 3: Involving and supporting children

Introduction

Parents have a strong and understandable desire to protect children from difficult situations, including death. This comes from a good place; however, research and experience indicate that children benefit from early, open and honest conversations about serious illness, dying and death. However, be aware that cultural and religious values may influence the involvement of children at the end of life.

Children who are well supported often benefit from the opportunity to spend time with the dying family member and to say goodbye. Facing tough times as a family helps them feel secure and nurtures a trusting relationship with parents and other adults. If it’s a parent who is dying, children need to know they’ll be cared for and by whom.

While ultimately the degree of children’s involvement is up to the parents or guardians, many welcome the guidance of health care providers.

See also:"How children grieve" in Module 1 of KidsGrief.ca