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Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life: CODA
December 4, 2002

Adolescent Grief"It Never Really Hit Me . . . Until It Actually Happened"

JAMA. 2002;288(21):2741. doi:10.1001/jama.288.21.2741

In September 2002, Grace H. Christ, DSW, Karolynn Siegel, PhD, and Adolph E. Christ, MD, DMSc,1 introduced Robert, a bereaved 14-year-old who had been interviewed 1 year after the death of his mother. The authors advocated that even if physicians do not have direct contact with the children of a dying patient, awareness of, and integration of, the family's needs are hallmarks of competent end-of-life care. Developmental factors shape an adolescent's reactions to a parent's death, whether it is sudden or, as in Robert's case, long expected. Through information and discussion, physicians can help support the adolescent in coping, and the family in preparing for the terminal phase of illness and the death and its aftermath. The authors stressed the importance of acknowledging the intensity of adolescent grief, and of observing the crucial differences between adolescent and adult grief, both in its expression and duration.

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