Talking about dying and death
Chapter 1: An early and honest approach
Benefits of early conversations
When children know that someone in their life is dying, it creates an environment of trust. Knowing about the illness early helps the child, their parents and the person who is dying.
For the child
- Helps them to make sense of the physical changes they may be seeing in the person. Gives them time to process their thoughts and feelings and to ask questions.
- Allows them to think about how involved they want to be with the person who is dying.
- Allows them to spend time with the person.
- Gives children the chance to say goodbye in a way that feels right for them.
For the parents
- Gives parents and other caregivers the opportunity to talk with their children about how involved they want to be when death is near.
- Would they like to be at the bedside when the person dies (if the family is open to this)?
- If the death happens while they are away (at school or camp, for example), do they want to be told as soon as it happens, or once they get home?
- Allows time to put supports in place such as school counsellors and grief programs.
For the person who is ill
- Allows the person who is ill to help support and prepare children for the possibility of their death.
- Gives the dying person time to share (if they’re willing and able): Memories of times they’ve spent together and/or some of their life story
- Ways to deal with life’s toughest times.
- Their wishes for the child or youth’s future and happiness.
Click on each item on the left for more detail