A Child's Concept of Death For infants and toddlers, death has very little meaning. School-aged children begin to understand death as permanent, universal, and inevitable. A predominant theme in adolescence is a feeling of immortality or being exempt from death. Discussing Death with Children The ultimate goal in discussing death with a dying child is to optimize his or her comfort and alleviate any fears. If the child is not ready to discuss death, the most helpful step parents can take is to wait until he or she is ready. Anticipatory Grief Anticipatory grief is similar to the normal process of mourning, but it occurs before the actual death. The Dying Process Understanding the physical and mental changes the body goes through as death occurs, may help alleviate some fears and misconceptions about death. Grief and Bereavement The process of grieving is often long and painful for parents, siblings, relatives, friends, peers, teachers, neighbors, and anyone that understands the loss of a child. Physical Needs of the Dying Child A terminally ill child has many of the same needs as any seriously ill child, including a routine for sleep and rest, and for pain management. Psychosocial Needs of the Dying Child The child with a terminal illness has the same need for love, emotional support, and normal activities as any person facing death. For Parents: Important Decisions to Be Made in the Dying Process Detailed information on important decisions to be made when a child is dying, including the right to refuse treatment, to die at home versus the hospital, advanced directives, do not resuscitate, autopsy, organ donation, palliative hospice care, and funeral arrangements. Supportive/Palliative Care Supportive, or palliative, care is care aimed at comfort of the child versus cure and treatment. Hospice The goal of hospice care is to provide the terminally ill child peace, comfort, and dignity.