Parent's Lived Experience of Memory Making With Their Child at or Near End of Life

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2022 Jul;39(7):798-805. doi: 10.1177/10499091211047838. Epub 2021 Sep 16.


Background: Memory making is the process of creating mementos of a child with a life limiting condition, who may be at or near end of life, providing a tangible and visual connection to the child who has died.

Aim: This study explored the lived experience a memory making process had on parents of children who were at or near end-of-life.

Design: A qualitative approach was used. Hermeneutic phenomenology methods provided guidance to the data collection, with a more limited interpretative phenomenological analysis conducted.

Setting: A purposive selected sample of 6 parents whose child had died and who had engaged in memory making participate. The sample was drawn from parents whose child had received care from a children's hospice.

Results: Individual interviews were conducted with 6 parents, all mothers. Three main themes emerged: Making the memories; the impact of memory making; and the end-of-life care journey. Parents experienced an overwhelmingly positive impact from memory making, as well as tangible and precious mementos that were created. The positive impact the process had on coping with grief and loss was also demonstrated, as well as the effect of helping to keep the deceased child's memory alive and include them in conversation.

Conclusions: The importance of skilled and sensitive staff with the ability to introduce the concept of memory making, and choice at end of life were highlighted by the parents who took part. Clinicians may benefit from understanding how memory making can positively impact the bereavement experience of parents whose child has died.

Keywords: end of life; lived experience; memory making.

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement*
  • Child
  • Death
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Mothers
  • Parents