Death, Dying and Bereavement
Members of the primary healthcare team can have an important role in helping children and their families to come to terms with dying and bereavement. The way in which a child understands death depends very much on his age and developmental level. The development of this understanding has been studied in detail by child psychologist Richard Lansdown. Children vary tremendously in how they express grief, and they may not show the conventional stages. They are more resilient than adults in the face of bereavement, and in general they appear to be less affected in the long term by death than by parental separation. Primary care team members may be involved in supporting a terminally ill child and their family while the child dies at home. Depending on the locality, palliative care services, including perhaps a community paediatrician, social workers and a psychologist, may be available.