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Social Work


Parents who experience the sudden death of a child will interact with many professionals in the period immediately following the death notification through to the funeral. The way these professionals respond to the parents during this critical period may be perceived as helpful, and thus support them in beginning the process of managing the trauma and starting a healthy grieving process. It may also be perceived as unhelpful, though, and contribute to more prolonged and complicated grieving. This article identifies the interventions that a sample of 20 parents who had experienced the sudden death of a child found helpful with different aspects of grieving. Specific advice is given to police, nurses, doctors, coroners, social workers, crisis counselors, funeral directors, and chaplains or clergy.


This article was originally published in Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 48(2): 149-164. (c) 2004 Baywood Publishing Company, Inc. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.