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What Children Wished They Had/Had Not Done and Their Coping in the First 13 Months after Their Sibling's Neonatal/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Emergency Department Death

Journal title
Journal of palliative medicine
Publication year
Youngblut, J. M.; Brooten, D.

Background: Research on what children wished they had done differently after their sibling's death has not been reported. Objective: Examine what children wished they had/had not done, and their coping after a sibling's neonatal/pediatric intensive care unit/emergency department (NICU/PICU/ED) death. Design: Qualitative data are part of a longitudinal mixed methods study of 6- to 18-year-olds interviewed at 2, 4, 6, and 13 months after a sibling's death. Setting/Subjects: Ninety-five school-aged children and 37 adolescents (58% female; 30% Hispanic, 50% black, 20% white). Measurements: Children responded to three open-ended questions: Thinking about your sibling's death, are there things you wish you (1) had done? (2) had not done? (3) What do you do to deal with your sibling's death? Conventional content analysis procedures were used. Results: Children wished they had spent more time, talked and played more with their sibling, saved their sibling, taken care of their sibling more, and been able to see their sibling grow up. They wished they had not been mean/yelled at their sibling, complained/argued with mother about their sibling, and kept their feelings inside. Children coped by talking with family, friends, and the deceased; playing, reading, watching TV; avoiding thoughts about and remembering their sibling; crying, keeping calm, praying; living for their sibling. Resuming their usual activities, trying to be happy, and laughing also helped children cope. Conclusions: Children commented more about what they wish they had done (n?=?317) and less about what they wish they had not done (n?=?107). Children talked to others and tried resuming usual activities to cope.

Research abstracts