To mark this week’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, we are proud to announce that our Social Worker Lyndsey Stukalov-Stone is using her Hospice experience to release her debut book, Precious Time, to help children understand their feelings when a loved one is dying.

Lyndsey works at the Hospice supporting children, young people and families who are facing a terminal illness. She provides invaluable care from the point of diagnosis through to bereavement, and tailors her support to meet the individual needs of each family. When it comes to the conversation about telling a child someone close to them is going to die, a key question she faces from families is how to tell a child this news and support them though this conversation.

These are crucial moments that parents can manage with the right support and tools to guide them. Becoming frustrated at the lack of resources aimed at having this conversation and explaining death in a clear and supportive way, Lyndsey decided to use her own experience as a qualified Social Worker and Counsellor to help families facilitate these discussions.

Lyndsey explains: “Precious Time provides families with a sense of language and direction on what to say. Our instinct is to protect children and not upset them, but they want to know what is going on. It is less anxiety-provoking for a child to understand why people are upset rather than using their imagination.”

Dying Matters Awareness Week (10-16 May) aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. Discussions about a loved one dying can provoke a range of emotions and many find it hard to express how they are feeling. Lyndsey was conscious of the journey children go through during these challenging times and made sure the book accommodated when they need to take breaks or focus on an activity.

She says: “This gives the child permission to still have fun because they can experience a lot of guilt around this. Families can be quite confused that one minute their child is upset and the next minute they are playing and acting as if nothing is happening.

“Children will jump in and out of their experience, so this book is to educate the parent on that journey and to reassure them this is healthy and there is no right or wrong way to do this. It is as unique as the child and the family.”

Precious Time’s artwork has been lovingly created by local designer Vanessa Brown, who has a personal connection to the outstanding care that Heart of Kent Hospice provides to help people living with a terminal illness achieve the best quality of life. The book has been kindly printed by Scarbutts Printers in Aylesford, who are a long-term supporter of the Hospice.

Heart of Kent Hospice is jointly publishing Precious Time and copies of the book will be given to patients under our care. Local organisations who work with children facing family bereavement will be gifted a copy and the book will also be available to purchase here at the Hospice.

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