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Helping a Child Cope with a Loved One’s Terminal Illness

young kid sitting in a field looking somber

This Blog Was Wrote As A Guest Blog By: Laura Pearson

When a loved one becomes ill, many people are affected. Family members may be unsure of how best to help, while children might not understand exactly what’s happening. For those who are coping with a loved one’s terminal illness, it can be extremely difficult to figure out how to start a conversation about what to expect or how to deal with all the feelings that come with it. No one wants their child to be in emotional pain, but it’s important to keep a regular dialogue open about the illness and allow your child to be involved in your loved one’s life.

There are several things you can do to help your child cope during such a difficult time. From letting them visit and even care for your loved one to looking for a support group to help them sort out and possibly share their feelings, there are many ways you can help your child get through the illness of someone they love. Keep reading for tips on how to get started.

Know What to Expect

It’s important to know what to expect, both from your loved one’s illness and from your child. Do some research on the illness to learn how it can affect someone, and understand that an individual who knows their diagnosis is terminal may begin to withdraw from friends and family. While this is normal, it can affect your family and leave your child with many questions. It can also help to understand how to talk to your loved one about their illness and how they’re feeling.

Facing the terminal illness of a loved one can be confusing for young children. They may exhibit many different emotions, from fear to anger to sadness. Understanding the complicated nature of these feelings can allow you to help your child through this difficult time.

Allow Your Child to Be Involved

It can be very helpful for your child to be involved in your loved one’s life and care. Even if it’s only in a limited way, assisting may help your little one feel useful and can give them an outlet for coping with the situation. You might ask your child to help you prepare a meal to take to your loved one or to make a visit and help clean their home. Think of the best ways you and your child can help your loved one during this time.

Focus on the Good Times

It can be very helpful to focus on good memories, so get out some photos of your loved one, watch old home videos, and talk about fun times with your child. Allow them to sort out their feelings by talking them out, and let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling. Sometimes nostalgia can bring about a little sadness, and that’s okay; however, focusing on the good times will help your child see that your loved one has had a good life.

Look for Some Help

Your child may benefit from having a professional to talk to, especially if their grief or sadness begins to affect them at school or keeps them from getting good sleep. Look for a therapist, counselor, or support group that can help, and attend with your child to help them get through this difficult time with support.

Helping your child cope with such a difficult life experience can be hard on you, too, so it’s important to take care of your mental health during this time. You may be experiencing grief as well, which can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. Talk to a professional if you feel you need help getting through it.

Image via Pixabay by Langll


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