When a child dies in a medical setting, families are confronted with unfathomable questions and decisions, and medical providers are often presented with a unique opportunity to help ease the pain and secondary victimization families experience.
Medical providers and the institutions they serve - from hospitals to hospice - have a unique opportunity to shepherd a family through the horrific experience of losing a child. While not every case lends itself to palliative care and advanced planning, there are many policies and practices institutions, and their providers, can enact to safeguard families from further pain and future heartache.
Families who lose a child may be forced to acknowledge that their child is dying and that they have no recourse - or be placed in a position of granting "permission" for their child to die. Mothers who experience a stillbirth may be assigned to areas of hospitals that include the cries of newborns. Parents who enter an emergency room due to an accident or other unanticipated event might be greeted by a chaplain rather than a doctor. There are many touch points where an unintended comment or interaction can become hallmark memory for a family.
The medical establishment and its representatives play a key role in supporting a family during a time of great stress and can play a critical role in reducing - if not eliminating - the secondary victimization families may experience. EVERMORE is working to gain a greater understanding of institutional practices, policies, and programs in hopes of developing supportive systems that address loss.