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HDFS403 - Death, Dying, and Grief

Course Details

Course Code: HDFS403 Course ID: 4851 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This course introduces students to concepts surrounding the nature of suffering and issues of death and dying. Students examine concepts from a theoretical perspective with attention to ethical and moral issues from a cross-cultural diversity perspective and the impact of death, dying and bereavement on a family and community. Participants explore stages of grief and apply them to case studies or their own patient experiences and engage with tools such as legacy building and memento creation, identify and utilize resources that promote positive coping skills, strategies related to providing children bad news or notifying them on death or impending death. Interest in or pursuit of Child Life certification is not required. Note: This course focuses on death, dying and grief in pediatric care

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
04/27/20 - 10/02/20 10/05/20 - 11/29/20 Fall 2020 Session B 8 Week session
06/29/20 - 12/04/20 12/07/20 - 01/31/21 Fall 2020 Session D 8 Week session
07/27/20 - 01/01/21 01/04/21 - 02/28/21 Winter 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successful completion of HDFS403 students will be able to:

  1. Explain the stages of grief and types of losses individuals and their families may experience; (CLC1a; CLC1d; CLC1e; CLC3a)
  2. Describe ways that grief is manifested in persons; (CLC1a; CLC1b; CLC1d; CLC1e; CLC1f; CLC3a)
  3. Apply interventive approaches and strategies to assist persons who are ill or grieving, as well as their families; (CLC1a; CLC1d; CLC1e; CLC3a)
  4. Summarize national resources and initiatives for individuals and family members who are ill or grieving. (CLC1e; CLC2a; CLC2c; CLC3a; CLC4a)
  • Child Life Competencies

  • Care of Infants, Children, Youth and Families
    • Competency-The ability to assess the developmental and psychosocial needs of infants, children, youth and families.

  • Competency-The ability to initiate and maintain meaningful and therapeutic relationships with infants, children, youth and families.

  • Competency-The ability to provide opportunities for play for infants, children, youth and families.
  • Competency-The ability to provide a safe, therapeutic and healing environment for infants, children, youth and families.

  • Competency-The ability to support infants, children, youth, and families in coping with stressful events.

  • Competency-The ability to provide teaching, specific to the population served, including psychological preparation for potentially stressful experiences, with infants and children.

  • Professional Responsibility
    • Competency-The ability to practice within the scope of professional and personal knowledge and skill base.

  • Competency-The ability to continuously engage in self-reflective professional child life practice.

  • Competency-The ability to function as a member of the service team.

  • Education and Supervision
    • Competency-The ability to represent and communicate child life practice and psychosocial issues of infants, children, youth, and families to others.

  • Competency-The ability to supervise child life students and volunteers.

  • Research Fundamentals
    • Competency-The ability to integrate clinical evidence and fundamental child life knowledge into professional decision-making.

  • Administration
    • Competency-The ability to develop and evaluate child life services.
    • Competency-The ability to implement child life services within the structure and culture of the work environment.


Please join the forums each week. Students must post a reply to each weekly forum and reply to at least 2 other students for each Forum. Replies must be posted in the week due and replies after the end of the each week will not be graded. The Forums are for student interaction and input should be submitted before the week ends in order to fully participate in the discussions. Students should demonstrate their own knowledge in the forums and avoid copying and pasting from websites.


  • Post the initial response to each forum by 11:55pm, ET, Wednesday.
  • Initial responses should be no less than 400 words.
  • Initial responses are to be original in content and demonstrate a thorough analysis of the topic.
  • Reply to at least 2 of your classmates in each forum by 11:55pm, ET, Sunday.
  • Replies to classmates should be no less than 200 words.
  • Responses to classmates are significant to advance the forum.
  • All forums can be accessed in the Forums section of the course.
NameGrade %
Forums 30.00 %
Lesson 1 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 2 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 3 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 4 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 5 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 6 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 7 Forum 3.75 %
Lesson 8 Forum 3.75 %
Hannah's Gift 12.50 %
Hannahâ??s Gift Submission 12.50 %
Deathography 12.50 %
Deathography Submission 12.50 %
Support Group Reflection 12.50 %
Support Group Submission 12.50 %
Memory Box Tool Bag 12.50 %
Memory Box Submission 12.50 %
Final Research Paper 20.00 %
Final Paper Submission 20.00 %

There are three texts for this course. Information about accessing each of them is listed below:

Grief and Loss Theories & Skills for the Helping Professions, 2nd Edition by Katherine Walsh
The VitalSource e-book is provided via the APUS Bookstore. Please visit for more information

Children Mourning, Mourning Children, edited by Kenneth J Doka

Please visit and search by the course number (HDFS403) to access your required resources

Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived by Maria Housden

Please visit and search by the course number (HDFS403) to access your required resources

Book Title:Grief and Loss: Theories and Skills for the Helping Professions, 2nd ed. - the VitalSource e-book is provided inside the classroom
Publication Info:VS-Pearson
Author:Walsh, Katherine
Unit Cost:$70.10
Electronic ISBN:9781323606636
Electronic Unit Cost:$37.80
Book Title:Children Mourning, Mourning Children - e-book available in the APUS Online Library
Author:Doka, Kenneth
Unit Cost:$34.33
Book Title:Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived - e-book available in the APUS Online Library
Author:Housden, Maria
Unit Cost:$10.67
Book Title:To find the library e-book(s) req'd for your course, please visit to locate the eReserve by course #.
Author: No Author Specified

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.