My husband is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. How can we help our children cope with his upcoming death?
Death is a concept that is often difficult for children to understand, particularly children under the age of 7. It is important to be honest with your children and use language appropriate to their ages. It will also be helpful if you share any spiritual or religious beliefs with them. Children need lots of reassurance that they will be loved and cared for by a consistent adult.
Children can have many fears relating to death, including fear that they or other loved ones might die, or that they are somehow responsible for the death. It helps to be aware of their fears and to address and calm them as best you can.
Children dealing with grief may express it through any of the following ways:
- Increased clinging.
- Lack of interest in school.
- Sleep difficulties.
- Decreased appetite.
- Temporary regression to more childish behavior.
- Physical complaints.
It is important to let your child grieve as they see fit and to remember to get extra help and support when you need it. Children who have lost a parent to cancer are still welcome to participate in the Kids Care activities at Cancer Services. Kids Care is a program for children who have a parent or guardian with cancer. Spending time with other grieving children could prove beneficial.
For additional help, the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center has services for children who have lost a loved one. Call (225) 924-1431 for more information about the group’s services.
Cancer Services also provides counseling through a partnership with Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge. Call Esther Sachse at (225) 927-2273 for more details.
ä ON THE INTERNET:
Discussing Death with Children — MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia:
Children and Grief — American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:
Helping Children who have lost a Loved One — CancerCare:
For more information, contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, at (225) 927-2273, email@example.com, or visit the Resource Center at 550 Lobdell Ave.
This column is presented as a service by Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge, a United Way affiliate.