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Psychological medicine

Helping parents cope with the loss of a child

Jenny Hynson

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Abstract

Much can be done to support bereaved parents. Grief is a normal response to loss, not an illness. Each person grieves in their own way and in their own time as the loss is integrated into the ongoing fabric of their lives, and the relationship with the child is renegotiated.

Article Extract

The death of a child is a devastating loss, particularly in a developed country where most childhood illness can be prevented or cured. As a community we rarely experience the death of a child, which makes it all the more difficult when we do. The grief experienced by bereaved parents is more likely to be severe, prolonged and complicated than the grief experienced by any other group. Parents talk of losing the future when their child dies.

It can be hard to know how to support a person faced with such loss, yet there is much that GPs can do.

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