Chapter 1: An early and honest approach

When children don't know

I've been there
Kelly explains the importance of truthful conversations.(3:22)Video transcript

Sometimes adults withhold important information. Even though this is done with the best intentions, this decision can create additional challenges for children as they grieve. 

Children sense when something stressful or difficult is happening in their life. When someone is seriously ill or dying, it’s best to tell them as soon as possible. When we try to shield children from the reality of illness, loss and death, they may:

  • Worry more.
  • Spend a significant amount of emotional energy trying to figure out what’s happening.
  • Fill in the missing pieces with their worst scenarios.
  • Lose trust in you.
  • Learn the news from somebody else.  

  • Be reluctant to ask questions and share concerns. Children may believe they won’t be told the truth or this is a topic they shouldn’t talk about.

Preparing and supporting your child 

  • Talk openly and honestly with them about what's happening.
  • Help them to understand and express their natural feelings of grief.