Before attempting answers, there are several excellent reasons to “question” my responses.
First, I don’t have children. I’ll never tell my own kid that I am dying.
Second, I’m not an expert. There are excellent books, from scholarly research on “children and dying” to kids’ books containing well-chosen words and lovely drawings to help youngsters (and parents) discuss death. In the grief groups I’ve lead, I often mention Patty Dann’s 2007 memoir “The Goldfish Went On Vacation” for insights on telling kids about a dying parent. Known for her best-selling novel “Mermaids,” Dann wrote about her husband’s brain cancer and how she dealt with their young son before and after the death. While I heartily recommend Dann’s book, I’m only aware of a spoonful of resources in the gallons of books, blogs and articles* that are available.
Now you know my advice-giver weaknesses! However, in the realm of conversations involving parents, kids and dying, being open about weaknesses (and strengths) is essential.
For my responses, I’m guided by a favorite quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: be sincere; be brief; and be seated. That was the 32nd President’s humorous views on public speaking. Read More →by