You might be concerned about visiting a hospice with your children. However, hospices are places where people go to be made comfortable when there is no hope of recovery before they die. This means that they are often nicer than hospitals and are made to be as positive as they can be. Perhaps you are still deciding whether to move your loved one into a hospice, here you can read about hospice vs nursing home.
You might be tempted to keep your child away from their loved ones during their final days. However, you might be denying your child a wonderful last memory or from being able to say goodbye. Plus, your loved one will likely be uplifted by the presence of your child. If you do decide then to visit a hospice with your child there are certain things you can do to make it a little easier.
Prepare your child
Firstly, you should have an open conversation with your child. If you are unsure whether or not to bring your child, then you may want to ask them if they want to visit. Be open with them and talk to them about what to expect. You may have to describe what smell to expect or medical machines, reassure them that everything is in place to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible.
You may also need to warn them about the condition of your loved one. If they are confused or delusional, or unable to speak. The best thing you can do is tell your child what to expect.
Children will have a lot of questions. They don’t need to know every detail but try and be honest when answering their questions and tell them if you do not know an answer.
Depending on your child’s age they might have questions about death. Try and embrace this and the unknowns surrounding it. If you have a faith then this might help you to explain it, but if not, that is also ok. Acknowledge that it is sad that you won’t get to see your loved one anymore, but that they will be at peace.
Your child may like to draw a picture or write a poem for your loved one. You could also bring flowers or photos.
If your child is very young you may want to bring toys for them to play with. This is ok, hospices are not all doom and gloom. Staff will try and make it as cheerful as possible. While it probably isn’t a good idea for your child to be running around, having something for them to play with is a good idea.
Enjoy your visit
Losing a loved one is a difficult time for everyone. However, try and make bringing your child into the hospice a joyous occasion.
Never force your child to go to a hospice. Be open and honest with them and make the decision together. Everyone’s situation is different and there is no right or wrong answer. If you do decide to visit, then make it as positive as possible and be prepared to answer difficult questions.