COVID-19: support for bereaved children is urgently needed

28th September 2020

The British Journal of Child Health has published a letter about the impact of COVID-19 on child bereavement urging all professionals and organisations providing care to dying patients to ensure that children’s rights are recognised and protected.

The death of a parent for children is a life-altering experience.   Although families may want to protect children by exclusion, not being involved in an age and developmentally appropriate way has been shown to have an adverse and long-lasting effect on children’s health and wellbeing.  

Restrictions on hospital visiting for the children of patients dying of COVID may also combine with depression, fear and anxiety cause by separation from peers and a loss of school support during the pandemic.   

The team call on the UK’s Minister for Bereavement, Nadine Dorries, to ensure that children’s voices are heard and that culturally competent, evidence-based services are urgently commissioned to meet the holistic needs of children when a parent is dying with COVID-19, to reduce the risks of long-term harm.

Dr Steve Marshall, Social worker at the Cicely Saunders Institute and co-author of the letter said:

‘It is important that children and young people do not become invisible during the COVID-19 pandemic and that we do not overlook their needs when a parent is dying’

British Journal of Child Health.  Steve Marshall, Andrew Rowland, Susan Higgins, Christina Woods, Lisa Jones, Sandeep Ranote, Iain Lawrie, Fiona Murphy

Letter Published Online:1 Sep 2020