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Explaining death to your children

An incurable cancer diagnosis can mean facing the possibility that you or your partner may die from their cancer. Deciding if and how to share this news with your children can be overwhelming and difficult...

The decision to share the news of a terminal or incurable diagnosis with your children is entirely yours to make. Some parents are open about their cancer from the beginning, while others choose which parts to share, often reflecting their child(ren)'s age and understanding.

There are many ways to explain death, but ultimately you know what messages your children will relate to the best. Some will prefer the simple understanding that death/dying means an ending, others may prefer a faith-based context, or you can use metaphors such as 'going to the stars'. An example of this comes from our CEO and founder Pete in his blog 'Explaining why Mummy would become the brightest star in our sky'.

Mummy's Star are not bereavement experts, but thankfully there are more resources available now than ever before, to assist you with your children both pre-bereavement and following a loss. We also have a very useful Ask the Expert video entitled “Children and Talking Cancer” by the lovely Caroline Leek, founder and director of Fruitfly Collective.

Fruitfly Collective have also curated an incredible website called 'Parenting With Cancer' which is full of resources made in collaboration with Mummy's Star and many other excellent organisations. They specifically help parents with cancer communicate with and support their children. Click on the article titles below to find some particularly relevant articles:

You can also find specific support for grieving children at these organisations:

and support for yourself as carer of a grieving child(ren):

Don't hesitate to reach out to your Information and Support Worker or email for referral to Mummy's Star if we can help you through this difficult time.


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