A retrospective study in Vancouver was designed to evaluate parents' perceptions of support received after the death of a child up to 5 years old. The families were contacted with the help of health care professionals and the news media. A standardized questionnaire was used in a personal interview or occasionally by mail. The contact with health care professionals after the child's death was frequently considered by the 61 families not to have been helpful: 80% of the families judged the information or counselling they had received to be inadequate, and over 50% had received none; many listed comments and behaviour that they considered harmful. The families desired both full medical information and grief support; what forms such support could take are suggested.