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New resources on talking to children about illness and death during the COVID-19 pandemic

The news that children currently face may seem almost unspeakable. But, together, we must find words, and ways, to give voice to their experience and prevent millions of children struggling with their fears and uncertainty alone.

Research shows that sensitive and effective communication about life threatening illness has major benefits for children and their family’s long-term psychological wellbeing.

A new comment authored by experts at the University of Oxford is published today in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, highlighting the importance of communicating with children when a loved one had died from COVID-19.

  • Families are separated from sick relatives who are being treated in hospital. When the patient dies, children within the family are often invisible to hospital staff liaising with relatives
  • Parents want to protect their children from distress and may feel unsure about how and what to tell children about their relative’s death
  • Children are astute observers of their environment, and when communication is absent, they attempt to make sense of the situation on their own, with important long term consequences for their psychological wellbeing

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website