Palliative and Supportive Care

Original Articles

Bereaved parents' perspectives on their needs

Norma Mammone D'Agostinoa1, Deborah Berlin-Romalisa2, Vesna Jovcevskaa3 and Maru Barreraa4 c1

a1 Princess Margaret Hospital, Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

a2 The Hospital for Sick Children: Hematology/Oncology Program, Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Pediatric Brain Tumor Program; Social Work Department, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

a3 The Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Psychology, Toronto, Canada

a4 The Hospital for Sick Children: Department of Psychology, Hematology/Oncology Program, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, Research Institute; Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


Objective: The loss of a child can be traumatic for parents, given the profound bond established with the deceased child. Parental bereavement and the need for bereavement services are not well understood. This study examined parental perspectives regarding bereavement services from a pediatric oncology treating center.

Methods: A 2-h focus group of seven parents, audiotaped and transcribed verbatim, was conducted by two facilitators using open-ended questions to generate discussion regarding their views of what services were or would be helpful during early bereavement.

Results: Parents perceived flexible and continuous bereavement services from the treating hospital as a necessary transition to community services. Talking to other parents with similar experiences and maintaining contact with staff at the treating hospital were considered critical in their healing after the loss.

Significance of results: Transitional multimodality bereavement services offered by the treating hospital will improve the quality of life of bereaved families.

(Received February 12 2007)

(Accepted August 17 2007)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Maru Barerra, Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 1X8, Canada. E-mail: