I gave this post a lot of thought – most probably because I was not faced with this challenge personally and could only imagine the dilemma those who need to explain the situation to children go through.
Children will ask questions and the answer on this topic are critical. The situation becomes increasingly difficult if person affected by cancer is someone close to them – someone they love.
Speaking to children openly and making sure they ask all questions that are on their minds will help. The most important thing is to handle their inquiries and their feelings with care.\You will need to recognize that every child will have a unique reaction. Some may be scared, others angry and most of them overwhelmed. You may even find that the child feels guilty or responsible.
It will be important to keep asking them questions – they may not know how to put their feeling into words. The more you talk and the more you allow them to talk, the better the communication will be. Recognize that children will need your help to describe what they are feeling.
To have the conversation, you will need to look for a special time, special quiet moment, like going for a walk, organizing a special picnic or basically finding a little uninterrupted time – it will go a long way.
I would say That the most important thing here is honesty. Children deserve to hear the truth and they can handle it. Talk king to them about illness or death is difficult, but not talking about it is a who;e lot worse.
You may also want to make sure that people your child is close to, like teachers, counsellors, frinds etc. are aware of the situation and provide support.
In summary – keeping the lines of communication comfortably open will go a long way and will definitely be very helpful in a difficult situation.