Background Precious Time (for school age children, 5–11 years) is a beautifully written, illustrated and published children’s book which focuses on supporting families facing anticipatory grief. The author, a palliative care social worker and counsellor identified the need to develop a therapeutic tool that supports both the child and family. ‘Precious time’ encourages the involvement of children in end-of-life discussions throughout the interactive book and helps families and professionals find the right words to ensure the child understands their loved one is going to die, what this means and how the family can support each other during this difficult time.
Aim The resource aims to ensure families have these discussions early, to feel confident and prepared. The author has observed that this will help children’s formation of memories and encourage communication between family members – which will result in an improved end-of-life experience for the child, patient, and their family, and ensure the child’s mental health, resilience and wellbeing is best supported.
Method This resource was developed through conversations with children who have experienced anticipatory grief. Frequently children told the author that they found out their loved one is dying by accident and without the significant adult’s awareness or support. Children experienced anger, mistrust, frustration and anxiety. Young people said that this became embedded in their memory as a distressing significant moment. The author wrote the book with this need in mind, to promote and support clear and honest communication about death and end-of-life discussions with children.
Conclusion Families have reached out on social media platforms thanking the author for bringing this important subject to light. Every child deserves to feel informed, involved and supported when their loved one is facing the end of their life. ‘Precious Time’ leads the way in creating this clear approach to help support short and long-term positive outcomes for bereaved children. It is a book written and inspired directly by working with children and families, giving a unique insight into what children want to know when a loved one is dying.
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