NEED HELP STAT!! How to tell a 10 year old his parent will die? He is on his way!

  1. 0
    I'm in ICU and we have a woman in her 30s who has a 10 year old son, her only child. His grandparents are dead and his father is in jail. If she goes, he will stay with the father's mother. The mom might not make it within a week or so. The patient's sibling has no idea how to break the news and wants me to do it.... OMG!!!!! He is on his way within an hour, what do I do?????? How do I say it in a compassionate way??? I think I'm soooo going to bawl my eyes out! Anybody with any experience in how to break the news to a child?

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  2. 38 Comments...

  3. 19
    I'm sorry, but this just isn't your responsibility and I wouldn't accept that responsibility. How is this poor kid supposed to deal with something like that, from a stranger no less? Sheesh, the people around this kid are really going to have to grow up, and fast. Don't let them corner you into doing this. It really is something that should come from a trusted family member in a supportive environment, not on an ICU floor. I'm not saying you can't be there and be supportive, but you shouldn't be the lead on this.
    tokmom, poppycat, RunnerRN2b2014, and 16 others like this.
  4. 17
    Get help. Does your hospital have a Chaplain, Social Worker, etc. who can help you? If not, then ask for help from a more experienced nurse or physician.

    But if you are not prepared to do this duty ... then you should not be doing it without help.
  5. 5
    Does your hospital have a child life specialist? This is really beyond what you should be expected to do. Even someone from psych services if a chaplain or social worker isn't available would be able to assist.
    joanna73, Not_A_Hat_Person, JZ_RN, and 2 others like this.
  6. 3
    Thanks so far for the suggestions! I called the Social Worker for ICU (she has some pediatric experience as well) and she is going to see what she can do for me. How awesome of her. I have NO strength to have been able to do it (and I'm glad you guys mention that it's truly not my responsibility)
    joanna73, Not_A_Hat_Person, and JZ_RN like this.
  7. 2
    You need to page your resources. now.
    psu_213 and JZ_RN like this.
  8. 3
    Quote from netglow
    You need to page your resources. now.
    update: I called the Social Worker and she talked to the family about the best way to talk to the child. The son decided to come in the room and see his comatose mother (i guess the family broke it too him)....he was shaking so bad and didn't want to touch anything. He started bawling.... and I beat him to the punch because I broke down just looking at him so scared. I am kind of mad at myself for not being able to compose myself better... UGH! Thanks everyone.
    Kandy83, JZ_RN, and loriangel14 like this.
  9. 4
    Crying just means that you are human. Seeing a young child like that, so emotional and viewing his comatose mother is heartbreaking. That is why you needed to call in reinforcements, its wonderful the social worker was there and also had pediatric experience.
  10. 0
    I don't have any words of wisdom , I am only writing to say that this kind of situations break my heart especially when kids are involved and will be left behind with no parents! ((((((
  11. 0
    We always had on call chaplains for such situations. I hope the social worker came through for you. How heart wrenching!

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