Maintenance of contact is important
One of the things I have learned is that when a family loses a child after their child has been chronically ill, or acutely ill, or sick for any period of time, the staff sometimes becomes like a family to the family. Families get to know them well, because you’re spending so much time together and you’re taking this journey with them. So when your child dies, you have the overwhelming and devastating loss of a child, but you also lose that contact with the medical team, and those providers that have provided you with emotional support, medical support, and spiritual support. And so that staying connected to the care providers is very important. I’ve realized that maintenance of contact can be very important, and of course it shifts over time, and there’s less contact over time, but we’ve shared an experience that’s so profound and so sacred that there’s a very deep bond and connection that we’ll always share. We experience their child’s illness, their life, and their death, so that’s joined you in a very deep way.
Laura Basili, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
I Leave It Up to the Family
There are two calls I initiate: One is when I find out when the child has passed away and I call the families to pay respect to them. I say “I’ll call you in six to eight weeks and see if you want to come back for a meeting, certainly call us sooner if you would like. You can also tell me now if you don’t want me to call.” Then I make the second call about 6 weeks later. More than that I try to respect their wishes, so I may say: “I’m going to leave it to you to connect with us if you ever want to.” With one mother, she did keep in touch. She emailed a couple of times and I emailed her back. She sent a few cards and she called a few times. The time got spread apart and I haven’t heard from her in over a year. I leave it up to the family.
Heather Bastardi, Nurse