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  • Writer's pictureThought Matters

Breaking grave news to kids and family- Quoted in MidDay

Quoted in Mid- Day on 1st April, 2024

How to break grave news about health and misfortune to kids and family members.

What are some things that should be borne in mind while doing so.

Mindfully breaking it down for family members to cope better.

“The stress that accompanies such an announcement increases exponentially if the announcement is sudden, if there is uncertainty or ambiguity involved, and if those receiving the news experience a sense of helplessness,” says Dr Nahid Dave, a psychiatrist at Thought Matters

Elaborating further, she explains that recipients of the news will be better equipped to cope with the repercussions if they are given time to process it, and if they do not feel like mere spectators but can be involved in the process. And so, it’s important to share the diagnosis as soon as you are certain of it, she emphasises. “Many caregivers suffer guilt and self-blame, especially if the illness is terminal. Giving them more time to come to terms with the illness also facilitates closure,” she adds.

. “It’s important to be truthful so that the child trusts the information they are receiving, but you can also use metaphors to simplify processes,” she adds.

Many patients try to cushion the blow by resorting to half-truths or unrealistic projections to make their family members feel better. Or, they could withhold information in a bid to protect their loved ones. This, says Dr Dave, can cause ambiguity, and the family members could lose trust in the information they are receiving, making it tougher for them to come to terms with the illness. She also suggests walking the family through the diagnosis and treatment processes, including every step involved, instead of abruptly informing them about the illness. “At the same time, avoid creating an atmosphere of toxic positivity, where you urge your family to ‘be strong’ and ‘not cry’. Everyone has different ways of dealing with stress. It is okay for them to cry, or want to be by themselves for a while. Allow family members to cope with the news in the way that’s most comfortable for them,” Dr Dave advises.

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