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How well can infant and toddler siblings of a sick or dying child understand what is happening?

ANSWER

Each year of a child's life brings enhanced ability to understand the reality and permanence of death.

Infant and toddler siblings of a sick or dying child can feel loss through:

  • Absence of a parent or of a sibling due to the treatment or death of the sibling
  • Interruption to routine caused by the treatment or death of a sibling
  • Grief and stress of their parents or other family members

From: Talking to Children about Death WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Kreicbergs, U. , Sept. 16, 2004. New England Journal of Medicine

Helene Morgan, LCSW, Comfort and Palliative Care Team, Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Arden O'Donnell, LCSW, Pain and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston.

Megan McCabe, MD, Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship, Yale School of Medicine.

Andres Martin, MD, Director, Children's Psychiatric In-Patient Service, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Kendra Frederick, CCLS, Certified Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Oncology Unit, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on January 9, 2018

SOURCES:

Kreicbergs, U. , Sept. 16, 2004. New England Journal of Medicine

Helene Morgan, LCSW, Comfort and Palliative Care Team, Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Arden O'Donnell, LCSW, Pain and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston.

Megan McCabe, MD, Director, Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship, Yale School of Medicine.

Andres Martin, MD, Director, Children's Psychiatric In-Patient Service, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Kendra Frederick, CCLS, Certified Child Life Specialist, Pediatric Oncology Unit, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on January 9, 2018

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What are some tips to soothe and care for an infant or toddler if their sibling is sick or dying?

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