If you are facing a discussion with parents whose child has died, your humanity is as important as your clinical knowledge and skill. Nothing you can say will ever take away the emotional pain they are facing but your involvement on a very human level will make a difference. Listening builds a trusting relationship and is essential if families are to be responded to effectively. The key components needed for good support are honesty, information, choices and time. Parents need to be guided through what will happen next and to know who to turn to when they leave the hospital. They should be offered a follow-up appointment. Staff working with bereaved families need support for themselves.
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Contributors JS is a founder patron and trustee of Child Bereavement UK and a counsellor at St Marys, Paddington. TD is a bereaved Mum. They have both read the paper and made significant modifications.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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