Chapter 1: An early and honest approach

Introduction

       

The greatest gift you can give your children is not protection from change, loss, pain or stress, but the confidence and tools to cope with all that life has to offer them.

- Dr. Wendy Harpham

Parents often try to protect their children from the pain of learning about a serious illness or death. They may withhold information or make the situation seem less serious. They may be so overwhelmed by their own grief, life-limiting illness or caregiving responsibilities that they feel unable to attend to anyone else. They might not even realize their child is grieving. Just getting through each day is all they can manage. 

Research and experience strongly suggest parents should talk with their children early on. The best way to protect grieving children is in fact to give them clear information and support that's right for their personality and maturity. Not doing so can make matters more difficult for them and have a long-term impact on their wellbeing.