In summary

Module 3 summary

Children have important questions, worries, and needs for support when a family member is in the ICU. Parents and caregivers may be reluctant to bring children into the ICU, wishing to protect them from what they imagine would be “too scary”. Unfortunately, this leaves them alone with their fears and difficult feelings, compounding their grief experiences.

Some of children’s most common concerns include:

  • Worrying about whether the illness or injury is their fault.
  • Wondering if it is contagious or curable.
  • Fretting about how they can help the patient.
  • Worrying about who will look after them if or when the patient dies.
  • Wanting to visit the patient but feeling nervous that they might accidentally harm them.
  • Feeling unsure about how to interact or what to do in light of the patient’s abilities.

You are uniquely positioned to talk with parents about how to best prepare, support, and include their children, and can share specific strategies for doing this before and during a visit to the ICU. These interventions can be extremely helpful to children, as well as for the dying patient and family members, contributing to more positive experiences and grief-related outcomes.