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Perspective on the paper by Baverstock and Finlay (see page 774)
Modern medicine focuses largely on treatment and cure, but care of the dying and bereaved remains an important duty of a doctor. After the death of a child, healthcare professionals are required to help support bereaved families. However, medical staff may feel ill prepared to do so.
In this issue, Baverstock et al1 report some of the emotions experienced by paediatric specialist registrars dealing with the recent death of a patient and the coping mechanisms the registrars used. There is little previously published on the topic but the importance the survey respondents attached to this issue is reflected in the high response rate.
Registrars report various emotional reactions to the death of a child. A sudden death produces a feeling of shock. Registrars also report self doubt, which may be a reflection of inexperience. Skill and confidence in communication with a bereaved family can be taught and are enhanced with practice.
Doctors may struggle to support a family when they …