1. Heaman, Maureen

Article Content

Woodgate, R. L. (2006). Journal of Palliative Care, 22, 75-82.


Bereavement follow-up care for parents is an integral part of pediatric palliative care. This qualitative study was conducted to examine parents' lived experience of transitioning through the death of a child using phenomenology to describe the essence of the experience. The investigator interviewed 28 parents from18 families in a city in western Canada. The time since the child's death ranged from 7 months to 18 years. Interview sessions lasted from 90 minutes to 3 hours. The major finding that emerged from this study was that parents who had experienced the death of a child continued to live in a world without closure and did not want to experience closure in their transitioning. Certain conditions reflected in the four main themes affected how parents experienced living without closure. "Keeping the memories alive" was important in maintaining a connection to their child. Having a sense of "being a good parent" meant knowing that they had done everything possible to help their child live a happy life. Some parents felt resentful when caregiving activities took up much of their time with their child and noted that healthcare providers sometimes made them feel inadequate in their parenting role. Parents spoke of the importance of "being there at my child's death" and having the healthcare providers who were most involved in the child's care be present. Finally, parents stressed the importance of friends and family "being there for me after my child's death." Qualitative studies such as this one are essential in assisting nurses in understanding the meaning of the experience for parents and helping nurses provide more effective support to parents during and after the death of their child. In particular, these results suggested that it is not appropriate to expect parents to achieve closure after their child's death.

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Maureen Heaman