Joan - Child Life with a family-centered approach to the field
    Family Bereavement over the death of a child.
 
Starting with "Talking about death with children who have severe malignant disease." from the New England Journal of Medicine (2004;351:1,175–1,186).
I've  arrived at two areas of interest:
    1) What factors determine whether parents decide to talk about death with their terminally ill child? (cancer)
    2) How do factors surrounding the death of a child (due to cancer) relate to the bereaved parents' subsequent coping ability?
    (One study: Journal of Pediatric Psychology 6(3) pp. 251-263, 1981 Effective Parental Coping Following the Death of a Child from Cancer John J. Spinetta2, Joyce A. Swarner and John P. Sheposh)

Methodologically, I could choose one of three possible ways forward:
    1- a secondary analysis of factors (such as child's age, family's religiousness, parents' age, presence of a social worker/child life specialist/pediatric psychologist...) that influence whether parents talk to a child about his/her impending death (from cancer)

    2- a secondary analysis of how factors surrounding a child's (cancer) death (ex. - where it occurs, whether they spoke with the child about death, whether they felt the child knew he was dying, who was present, whether parents were able to hold the child, whether they were given time alone with the child before or after the death, whether they were permitted to assist in caring for the child's body...) correlate with parents' subsequent coping ability (as measured by rates of depression, suicide, divorce, heart attack, stroke, death...over the next 2 years, for example.) The intervening aspect of this is of course how parents feel about the events that surrounded their child's death (at peace with it or feeling shame, remorse, or regret over any aspect of it).

    3- I've also contemplated the idea of posting a message to an online support group for bereaved parents to ask if they would complete a survey with the knowledge that it would be posted on the U of Akron webpage. I know it's a delicate area, but from my limited experience of having a few friends who have lost children to cancer, I think that perhaps parents may want to share their experiences in order to help others... The survey could pertain to either of the above topics.

Interest is in the third topic.
There seems to be more information out there about how or why to tell children they are dying, and somewhat less about how aspects of the situation surrounding the child's death  correspond to the parents' abilities to continue on with their lives in a psychologically healthy and productive manner...  What I've read thus far has primarily been focused on helping the child, with peripheral attention to the parents, but I have found some studies that focus on the parents (for example that lower rates of parental depression correlate with their child having died at home, as opposed to in the hospital)

So: In very broad, nonscientific terms, what can child life specialists and others do in the period surrounding the death of a child that could help the child's parents live the rest of their lives as optimally as possible?