Chapter 15: Whose Suffering Is It? An Ethical Reflection on the Decline and Death of a Child

Timothy R. Arsenault Arsenault’s chapter addresses similar issues. Arsenault poses a challenging case example of a mother bereaved by the prior suicide of her husband who now wants to hang onto her son, her sole remaining family member, at all costs, along with a boy who is willing to accede to his mother’s wishes no matter what. The moral distress of the staff caring for this boy is evident and understandable, reaching its height in the well-meaning but misguided intervention of a palliative care social worker who attempts to bypass the mother’s instructions and is disciplined for that behavior. Arsenault nicely notes the constructive efforts of a hospice volunteer after the boy’s death when both mother and volunteer share stories of their children’s deaths.

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