Advice and support for parents of sick, dying and deceased children.

If its easier and helpful for you, we can have our conversation in english.


The critically ill child 

The sudden and inevitable injury or illness of a child poses particular challenges for most parents and the social environment of those affected. The admission of their child to an intensive care unit is a catastrophic event for parents. Feelings such as shock, fear, loneliness, powerlessness, helplessness, despair and even panic can push them to the limits of their resilience. Due to its unpredictable duration and the open outcome, this situation can inspire fear and be existentially threatening. This requires adaptive services from the parents and various forms of support from the accompanying persons. Psychological defense mechanisms such as avoidance, repression, denial and rationalization serve as self-protection in order to avoid and relieve an inundation with threatening feelings. Information can, if at all, only be received in a strongly distorted manner - irrational and sometimes bizarre reactions follow. Behaviors such as restlessness, overactivity or apathy are just as normal in this situation as physical reactions such as sweating, palpitations and difficulty breathing. Changes in the perception of time, a feeling of unreality, limited awareness and difficulties in rational thinking are also caused by stress reactions in the brain. After this initial shock phase, feelings such as deep sadness, speechlessness, fear of the future and the question of guilt often arise. Your own well-being is put on the back burner, which is additionally burdened by sleeping and eating disorders. The impact this stressful situation can have on the whole family continues to be underestimated. Such stress and strain reactions are normal for parents during and also after their child's intensive care stay to a certain extent and for a certain duration. But psychological stress often determines the life of relatives for a long time after the intensive stay. According to current studies, many relatives develop clinically relevant psychological symptoms and can thus develop an increased risk of mental disorders.

Death of a child 

While most of us will face grief at some point in our lives, the death of a child is one of the greatest losses a person can suffer. Our philosophy of life is being challenged as a child shouldn't die before their parents. Trying to understand what you are going through is an important first step in dealing with your child's death. In the first few days after your child dies, you may be overwhelmed by feelings of numbness, overburdening, and deep pain. There are many decisions to be made and you may have many family members and friends around you who will help you through the first difficult times. Typically, you will get a lot of calls and visits at first, but over time, your friends and family will get back to their daily routine. Usually this happens before you have found a "new" routine for yourself. Be careful and considerate of yourself. Allow your grief, talk about it, and get support and help with it. You yourself know best what is good for you and who can help you with it. 


Grief is work! You can feel exhausted and drained. Emotions such as sadness, anger, loneliness, fear and guilt come in waves and you may feel "crazy". This roller coaster of emotions is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and only means that you have been thrown off the track - it takes time to regain clarity and stability. Give yourself time. It's not about forgetting your child. It's about integrating the loss of your beloved child into your life and finding a new place for it.

Support & accompaniment 

In order not to experience a traumatic crisis due to such an exceptional situation, professional support and care may be required. The complexity of such a crisis situation also places great demands on the environment. The importance and benefits of early professional support are known, but not yet adequately implemented. The psychosocial accompaniment of those affected during or after a potentially traumatizing event has above all a protective and supportive character, the main aim of which is to reduce stress, to make the affected person capable of acting again and to activate their coping mechanisms. It sees itself as a support for the natural handling process.

Liability notice: Participation in the individual sessions is your own responsibility. It is not a substitute for medical, psychotherapeutic or psychological treatment. All information about yourself will of course be treated as strictly confidential.

© 2024 Carmen Eckerstorfer, Website by Carmen Eckerstorfer