Bereavement Support Services
Special Considerations of Sudden
Unexpected Infant Deaths
The death of a child is considered the most stressful and enduring
loss for parents.
Research indicates that compared to the loss of a parent or
spouse the loss of child is more
intense. One reason is that for many individuals, the parent-child
bond is integral to the
Understanding the differences and similarities between losses
that are sudden and
unexpected such as SIDS and accidents and those losses that
are expected such as cancer
is critical to improving bereavement support to families.
all bereaved families need information, privacy, support and
involvement in decisionmaking,
there are some differences when the death is sudden and unexpected.
- Intense shock and distress for the family
that also may include fear and anxiety.
- A family member is usually
in a hospital setting and must quickly contact and
summon other family members and friends. Families may feel
and isolated. While most SIDS deaths take place in the home
or child care setting,
most will be transported to a hospital or health care setting.
members must make decisions quickly that require them to
framework from their child’s life to his or her death.
Decisions such as organ
donation and funeral arrangements will be discussed.
with many different types of personnel from transport to
room. Families are faced with interacting with numerous prehospital
law enforcement, emergency room staff and other families
and children in the
- Experiencing grief in a situation in which the
family does not have a relationship
with the health personnel or completely understand the medical
The child’s death from SIDS or unintentional accident
is sudden. The family had
no reason to expect that the child was ill or would die.
cause of the child’s death is unknown, which left
the family with more
questions than answers.
- The criminal justice system is often
involved and families face suspicion and
accusations of child abuse when the death is from SIDS or