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P-11 ‘Little Gem’ – a booklet to facilitate understanding, communication and support for families following bereavement
  1. Jules Kirk and
  2. Sarah Cundill
  1. Treetops Hospice, Risley, UK


Background Our extensive experience over numerous clinical assessments and repeated enquiries highlighted that family members have differing needs and grieve in varying ways following a bereavement. Research supported this, indicating a potential negative impact on communication and relationships within families (Worden. Children and grief: when a parent died. 1996; Walsh, McGoldrick. Living beyond loss: death in the family. 2004; Christ. Healing children’s grief: surviving a parent’s death from cancer. 2000). We sought funding from Children in Need to develop a booklet for families to gain helpful insight into the grieving process of a child and advice on how to begin conversations around death and dying.

Aims To write and produce a booklet to support parents/carers who have a child under 12 who has been recently bereaved; collecting and evaluating qualitative feedback from families and professionals on its use and effectiveness.

Methods Research of a number of existing publications found literature was either aimed at the adult or the child. We designed a double-fronted booklet to merge these needs allowing both adult and child to gain an understanding of crucial aspects around death and dying and make sense of their shared experience, introducing a character called ‘Little Gem’ as a guide for the child. Gathering feedback from professionals and families on the draft version, we incorporated this along with input from illustrators and graphic designers to produce both the character ‘Little Gem’ and the final booklet. Themes include: a child’s developmental understanding of death; their reactions to grief; knowledge around practicalities such as funerals; and broaching difficult subjects, for example the manner of death.

Outcomes An evidence based, collaboratively developed booklet is now utilised in response to enquiries from families and professionals or offered when deemed clinically appropriate during an assessment. Initial qualitative feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. A limited print run allows for amendments following further evaluation.

Conclusion Evaluation of efficacy will determine the organisation’s continued investment. Plans are in place to develop additional bereavement resources for teenagers.

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