Chapter 4: Explaining dying and death

Explaining dying

I've been there
Kelly describes honest conversations with their young son about his father's illness, dying and death.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Jean and Omo remember their son's fear of separation after his friend died.(3:22)Video transcript
I've been there
Neenu explains involving professionals to talk with her sons about their father's illness.(3:22)Video transcript

Telling Emma that I'm dying was so hard, but it was important to me that she was prepared for the changes she's going to see in me as I get closer to  death. 

When the body dies, it never works again  

Your aunt has a lot of cancer in her body, which is causing her body to not work properly. The cancer is stronger than all of the medicines that can be used to try to get rid of cancer. Eventually your aunt’s body will stop working, and her body will die. When the body dies, it never works again.  

Address common misunderstandings

  • Sometimes children worry that talking about dying makes it more likely that the person will die. Reassure them that this isn’t so.

  • Let them know that the person who is ill isn’t dying because they didn’t “fight hard enough” or “try hard enough” to stay alive.

  • If it’s true, explain that they very much want to stay alive, but unfortunately the illness is too strong.

  • If the illness is one that not everybody dies from, explain this to your child. For example, Grandma may be dying from cancer but Aunt Shahina also has cancer but is not dying from it.