- Helping ChildrenWhen a Family Member Has Cancer:Dealing With a Parent’s Terminal Illness
- How do I know I’m dying?
- Why should I tell my children I’m dying?
- How do I talk to my children about dying?
- Will this experience affect my child’s happiness and ability to enjoy life in the future?
- What if I’m a single parent and have a terminal illness?
- How do children of different ages deal with illness and death ?
- Infants or very young children
- Children age 3 to 5
- Children age 6 to 8
- Children age 9 to 12
- When death is near, should children be there for the actual event?
- How can children be prepared for the memorial ritual or funeral?
- What other factors influence how a child understands a parent’s death?
- Spiritual and religious beliefs may help comfort children
- How are children affected by the surviving parent’s grief?
- How should your child’s school be included?
- To learn more
To learn more
More information from your American Cancer Society
We have some related information that may also be helpful to you. These materials may be read on our website or ordered from our toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345.
More on helping children with cancer in the family
Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: When a Child Has Lost a Parent
Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis (also in Spanish)
Helping Children When a Family Member Has Cancer: Dealing With Treatment (also in Spanish)
It Helps to Have Friends When Mom or Dad Has Cancer (booklet for elementary school children)
Managing advanced cancer
Advanced Cancer (also in Spanish)
Bone Metastasis (also in Spanish)
Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home (also in Spanish)
Guide to Controlling Cancer Pain (also in Spanish)
Advanced cancer and end of life
Nearing the End of Life (also in Spanish)
Coping With the Loss of a Loved One (also in Spanish)
Books from your American Cancer Society
The following books are available from the American Cancer Society. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit our bookstore online at www.cancer.org/bookstore to find out about costs or to place an order. The books for children are intended to be read to and discussed with the younger children in the age range.
Cancer in the Family: Helping Children Cope with a Parent’s Illness (for adults)
When the Focus Is on Care: Palliative Care and Cancer (for adults)
Because...Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids’ Activity Book. (best for children ages 5 to 10)
Our Mom Has Cancer (best for children ages 5 to 10)
Let My Colors Out (best for ages 4 to 8)
National organizations and websites*
Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information and support include:
Caregiver Action Network (CAN)
Information and support for family caregivers from peers and CAN volunteers
Toll-free number: 1-800-899-2866 (If you get voicemail, leave a message to get a call back)
A support network for children and teens who have a parent with cancer as well as for those who have lost a parent to cancer
Caring Connections – National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Toll-free number: 1-800-658-8898
In other languages: 1-877-658-8896
Information on making plans for end of life (advance directives), hospice care, and finding hospice care. Also has information on caring for a very ill loved one, managing pain, grieving, and more.
Hospice Foundation of America
Toll-free number: 1-800-854-3402
Has end-of-life resources and information for patients and families, a hospice locator service (at www.hospicedirectory.org), and bereavement support groups referrals are available in some areas
The Centering Corporation
Toll-free number: 1-866-218-0101
Information, books, and many other resources on bereavement and loss for children and adults; also has materials in Spanish
Information on grief and bereavement; online and email groups for adult grief support; separate online support groups for children under 12 and for teens (with consent from parent or guardian)
The Dougy Center
Toll-free number: 1-866-775-5683
Information, books, DVDs, and online activities for grieving children, teens, adults, and their families. They refer to programs across the country and around the world that serve to help children in grief. Some support groups offered, even for very young children.
Offers phone support to parents and guardians with questions or concerns about the needs of grieving children; also has “How to Help” booklets to help adults assist grieving children
National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)
Toll-free number: 1-800-228-6332
Offers information on grief and mourning, working with kids and teens, funeral planning, understanding cremation, “green” burials, and more
You may also want to contact your local hospice or hospital for bereavement support groups in your area.
*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.
No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
Last Medical Review: 01/14/2015
Last Revised: 03/20/2015