Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum, Howard Giles and Amber Worthington
Chapter Nine: Family Communication as a Child Is Dying
Family Communication AS A Child Is Dying
KATHLEEN A. GALVIN
The death of a child is perceived as a death out of season, a monstrosity, an outrage against the natural order of things. (Viorst, 1986)
Parents never envision talking with their terminally ill children about death. Yet, when children battle a potentially fatal childhood illness, parents struggle to decide whether, when, and under what conditions they will begin an ongoing conversation about death with their 5- or 15-year-old. In addition, they confront related issues—whether, when, and how to engage their other children and extended family members in these conversations. Conversely, terminally ill children wonder whether, when, and how to share their questions and feelings with family members. If such conversations occur, no family member escapes unscathed from the pain of the heart-wrenching talks but few regret those conversations.
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