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Supporting extended family members

Extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, are often looked upon to provide practical and emotional support when a child is chronically unwell. The needs of extended family members are important in the care provided to families because of this reason. Extended family will be coping with their own reactions of distress or grief, whilst also wanting to support the nuclear family of the unwell child. Grandparents, in particular, will be managing the double impact of their own grief as a grandparent, but also the distress of seeing their own child suffering. Where possible, it is important for extended family members to be linked in with both formal and informal supports to sustain them as they provide this care and emotional support.

Open communication in the extended family can positively influence and assist in the emotional support and care received.Grandparents, aunts and uncles can all play a significantly important role in a child's understanding of death.  Extended family members can be actively encouraged to participate in decision making.