Chapter 4: When death is sudden or unexpected



It was such a shock. We felt totally sideswiped.

Sudden or unexpected death can have many causes:

Sudden medical events – such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); heart attack; stroke; or sudden acute infections.

Accidents – such as car and boating accidents; drowning; choking; household, workplace or recreational accidents.

Suicide - you can learn more about a death from suicide in the next chapter.

Unintentional overdose of prescription or street drugs.


This chapter looks at the unique challenges children face when confronted with a sudden or unexpected death.

Children who haven’t been prepared for an expected death by illness often experience it as sudden or unexpected. If this is the case, much of the discussion in this chapter may apply equally to them.