Care of the Terminally Ill Child

Anticipatory grief is similar to the normal process of mourning, but it happens before the actual death.

For infants and toddlers, death has very little meaning. School-aged children begin to understand death as permanent, universal, and inevitable. A predominant theme in adolescence is a feeling of immortality or being exempt from death.

Detailed information on important decisions to be made when a child is dying, including the right to refuse treatment, to die at home versus the hospital, advanced directives, do not resuscitate, autopsy, organ donation, palliative hospice care, and funeral arrangements.

The ultimate goal in discussing death with a dying child is to optimize his or her comfort and alleviate any fears. If the child is not ready to discuss death, the most helpful step parents can take is to wait until he or she is ready.

The process of grieving is often long and painful for parents, siblings, relatives, friends, peers, teachers, neighbors, and anyone that understands the loss of a child.

The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill child peace, comfort, and dignity.

Detailed information on care of the terminally ill child

A terminally ill child has many of the same needs as any seriously ill child, including a routine for sleep and rest, and for pain management.

Supportive, or palliative, care is care aimed at comfort of the child versus cure and treatment.

Understanding the physical and mental changes the body goes through as death happens, may help ease some fears and misconceptions about death.

The child with a terminal illness has the same need for love, emotional support, and normal activities as any person facing death.

Detailed information on care of the terminally ill child

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