When a parent has terminal cancer

The example below works for when a child who is affected by parental cancer is present.

“Most people who think about cancer also think about death. Often people ask whether a person with cancer will die. We are very lucky in our country that we have access to lots of different types of treatment for cancer. We are also very lucky that all around the world there are hundreds and hundreds of scientists and doctors who are working out how to treat more and more people with cancer”


If a parent’s cancer is terminal there is still a need to learn about, and talk about, cancer with the class. People often feel more uncomfortable speaking about cancer knowing the outcome is not positive.

Additional specific bereavement support will be needed towards the end of the parent’s life, and after the parent has died. Your school will have in place policies on bereavement. It is a good idea to have the school properly trained to identify a child who is experiencing ‘normal’ grief, and a child who requires specialist support.

Charities such as Winston’s Wish offer excellent advice and resources.

We cannot stop children feeling sad, but by sharing our feelings and giving them information, we can support them in their sadness.