Deaths among children are rare, but the effect on family members is profound. Compared with adult deaths, information about grief, recovery, and quality of care is sparse.
To describe aspects of bereavement for parents who had experienced the death of a child and to compare these aspects by parent sex, type of death, and overall experience.
In-person interviews with families, primarily parents, a mean of 21.8 months after the child's death.
Academic, tertiary care, faith-based children's hospital.
Fifty-nine child deaths and 79 parents or guardians.
Main Outcome Measures
In-person interviews, including standard instruments for bereavement and quality of care: the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief and the Comprehensive Assessment of Satisfaction With Care–Short Form.
Fathers and mothers had similar levels of grief. Mothers who experienced the sudden death of their child had somewhat more intense grief reactions than those whose child died of a chronic condition. Grief scores did not vary according to satisfaction with treatment. Comprehensive Assessment of Satisfaction With Care–Short Form scores were high for parents and similar between mothers and fathers and between sudden and unexpected deaths.
Although there were some differences in grief responses among parents, satisfaction-with-care scores were high. Further studies should examine the role of satisfaction with care in parental grief response and incorporate the reporting of experiences rather than simple ratings to measure satisfaction with care.