Preparing yourself

Before talking to your children, you may need some time to cope with your own feelings about being told you will not recover from cancer. It will be hard to talk to your children about what is happening when you are still trying to manage your own emotions.

If you are feeling unwell or low, you may not feel emotionally strong enough to begin any difficult conversations with your family and friends. Take your time and go at a pace that feels right. You may want to avoid any discussion about what is happening. Or, if you have a partner, you may find that they do not want to talk about it. This may be their way of coping with a difficult situation. But it can make it harder for you and your family to support and understand each other.

Try to talk to the different members of your healthcare team about what is likely to happen in the coming weeks or months. If you have a partner or close family or friends supporting you, try to talk to them about your feelings and concerns.

If you prefer to talk to someone outside your situation, you can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 or contact Winston’s Wish. You can speak about whatever is on your mind. Some people find online support a good source of help too.

Talking things through with someone can help you to make sense of the options you and your family have at this painful time. It can be a way of practising how you are going to tell your children about what is happening to you and them. You may find it useful to try out the words you plan to use with another adult. You could also think about the kind of questions your child may have and plan your answers.

The doctor told us it was terminal. As you can imagine, we were absolutely devastated. Our little boy Oscar was only two at the time.


Back to Relationships and advanced cancer

Preparing a child for loss

It can be very hard telling your children that you are not going to get better. Being honest with them can help them cope.

Making a memory box

Making a box filled with special things can help your children or other loved ones to remember times that you spent together.