- 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
Bylund-Grenklo T, Kreicbergs U, Uggla C, et al. Teenagers want to be told when a parent’s death is near: A nationwide study of cancer-bereaved youths’ opinions and experiences. Acta Oncol. 2014;3:1-7.
Christ GH, Christ AE. Current approaches to helping children cope with a parent’s terminal illness. CA Cancer J Clin. 2006;56(4):197-212.
Dehlin L, Reg LM. Adolescents’ experiences of a parent’s serious illness and death. Palliat Support Care. 2009;7:13-25.
Harpham WS. When a Parent Has Cancer: A guide to caring for your children. New York: HarperCollins 2004.
National Cancer Institute: When Someone You Love Has Advanced Cancer: Support for Caregivers. Talking with Family and Friends. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/when-someone-you-love-has-advanced-cancer/page7#f3 on January 5, 2015.
Seccareccia D, Warnick A. When a parent is dying: helping parents explain death to their children. Can Fam Physician. 2008;54(12):1693-1694.
Welch AS, Wadsworth ME, Compas BE. Adjustment of children and adolescents to parental cancer. Parents’ and children’s perspectives. Cancer. 1996;77:1409-1418.
Last Medical Review: 01/14/2015
Last Revised: 03/20/2015