Mothers' stories of loss: their need to be with their dying child and their child's body after death

J Child Health Care. 2005 Dec;9(4):288-300. doi: 10.1177/1367493505056482.


Children die every year in the UK from a range of life-limiting conditions. The majority will die in hospital as only a minority die at home or in children's hospices. There is a paucity of research exploring the experiences of mothers whose children die in these settings. Although the need for them to be in a caring and supportive environment seems self-evident, this qualitative study finds that not all provide this. Interviews with 10 mothers enabled comparisons to be made between care and support received in hospital, at home and in a children's hospice. Their stories identified their need for time, space and privacy with their dying child and their child's body after death. Also, that memories of these events continued to affect them, giving further support to new theoretical understandings of parental grief which suggest that parents maintain continuing bonds with their dead child by preserving memories and recollections of their life and death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Narration*
  • United Kingdom