How to Discuss Terminal Illness with Children

Illness is a part of the human experience. But because of its sensitive nature, terminal illness can be an especially difficult subject to broach with young children. At Mountain View Funeral Home and Memorial Park , we have some tips to offer you that help you discuss terminal illness with your children.

How to Discuss Terminal Illness with Children - Mountain View Funeral Home

Recognize That Children Are Aware of Serious Illness

Many adults are hesitant to bright up the subject of terminal illness with their children, fearing that the conversation could frighten them. But many children, even those in elementary school, already know about death and serious illness. They know it from television shows, fairy tales, and even the classroom.

Discuss the Meaning of Terminal

With modern medical technology, “terminal” no longer means that death is imminent. In fact, many people diagnosed with a serious illness today may be able to live months or years longer than someone with the same disease decades ago. But with that comes a new type of grief, where the terminal patient and his or her family needs to live with the side effects of treatment, and the uncertainty about his or her long-term health. According to a number of interviews conducted by clinical psychologist Dr. Joe Nowinski, children who grow up with a parent with a terminal diagnosis admit years later that they could have handled more information than they were provided. Many of these adults said the lack of information they were given as a child actually created more anxiety for them.

Encourage Emotional Expression and Questions

No matter the age of your children, provide a space for them to express their feelings and ask questions. In your responses, it’s okay to respond with “I don’t know” if you truly do not know. Use simple language instead of complex medical terms to help your child understand.

If you are dealing with a terminal illness in your family, contact Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory. In addition to providing 24/7 online grief support services , we can help you with pre-arrangements in Tacoma. For more information, visit our website or call us at (253) 584-0252.

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