We hope you have found this pre-course material useful and insightful. More importantly, we hope you feel a little more confident and competent to respond to one of the most demanding situations – the death of a baby or child.

It is for you to reflect on what you have learned, and what you are going to do differently in future. Remember there is a bank of helpful information for you and for families on Child Bereavement UK’s website and you can always call our Helpline in confidence on 0800 02 888 40 – or refer families to the line for guidance and support.

Here is a summary of the most important feedback that parents have given Child Bereavement UK:


  • Let parents be with their child. Remember brothers and sisters
  • Treat parents equally, and involve them in important decisions
  • Recognise that men and women may often react differently
  • Refer to the child by name
  • Be factual
  • Tell the truth – and be honest about what you don’t know
  • Respect the fact that parents’ sense of duty to their child continues after death
  • Give parents permission to express their feelings
  • Allow time for parents to ask questions
  • Check that parents have understood what you have told them – clarify medical jargon
  • Enquire about the parents’ beliefs, what they need, what may be available
  • Reassure parents that their child’s body will be treated with respect and dignity during the post-mortem examination, and that nothing can be retained without their consent
  • Agree with parents when and where they will see you or a consultant again
  • Give parents your name and contact details in writing
  • Explain where support is available once back in the community and any available ongoing support from the hospital, local/national bereavement services/helplines and so on


  • Hurry parents
  • “Protect” them from what is happening
  • Hide your emotions from parents
  • Assume that parents will understand everything you say or do: you’ll sometimes have to repeat the same explanation several different times 
  • Assume that families know that everything possible has been done… if you don’t tell them
  • Use medical jargon
  • Rush away after giving bad news
  • Assume there is a right way to grieve