Whether your child is dying at home or in the hospital, if there are siblings they should be included in the family response. Being part of things, having jobs to do, helps brothers and sisters remain involved, contributing members of the family. Young children can answer the doorbell, go on errands, or make tapes to play for the sibling. Older children can help with meals, stay with the ill child to give parents a break, answer the phones, or help make funeral arrangements. These jobs should not be "make-work"—children should truly be helping. This allows them not only to clarify their role in the family, but also helps them prepare for the death as well as have an opportunity to say goodbye. These jobs help siblings feel that they are a useful part of the family rather than a forgotten and perhaps less loved brother or sister.
We had given our children free rein to pick out the clothes that Jesse would be buried in. They made very thoughtful choices: her favorite, very comfortable pajamas with little tea cups on them, and her teddy bear The service was very special: a celebration, a testament to her faith and ours.
The Compassionate Friends (see Appendix C, Resource Organizations), has dozens of resources to help all members of the family.
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