Bereavement with Su Laurent and Tracy Dowling

Tracy talked about the process of preparing for death, the questions (what will he look like? Will he need an ambulance?) that she asked, and the planning and listening from the team. Vital meeting in her kitchen.
Trivial things matter in this situation. Planning for details of different contingencies, including an ambulance directive for which hospital he was to be taken to. Importance of ongoing relationships and things being done by familiar people.
Impact, both positive and negative, on younger brother. Planning and discussion with siblings.
Importance of fitting language to the audience. A lot of people prefer direct language e.g. dead rather than lost or in heaven.
Advanced care planning is key, and is not death planning.
Death takes its time, often far longer than any of us expect. Weekends are especially tough during these last days. Doing things for ‘piece of mind’-we need to ask whose piece of mind?
Importance of medicine leaving the room, dropping off the trappings of medical care.
After death.
Bereavement hurts, physically and the exhaustion is worse than the exhaustion of over work experienced during dying. Often the complete withdrawal of care is devastating.
Numbers and anniversaries are important and become a way of counting and marking bereavement.
People say things to add positivity. E.g. back to work, have another baby, it’s a blessing. Language of moving on can be unhelpful. People also avoid the bereaved. Talking about the child as a person is valuable.
Bereavement team’s role: mainly to get parents together. Hearing the stories of others can give you examples of what not to do, as well as what to do.
Differences in how people are treated depending on how child died. Unexpected death in some ways better, but often complex feelings of guilt. Every bereavement is different and heading each other’s stories is valuable.

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