End of life

How do I talk to children and young people?

It can be difficult to know how to talk about the end of life with children or grandchildren. Some people worry that they may frighten or upset them.

What can you do?

Young people and children may have questions about what is happening and want to express their thoughts and feelings. They may also have questions about the future. Who will look after them? What will happen at the funeral and can they be involved? Take time to reassure them and offer any emotional support they need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your doctor, nurse or social worker. There are a lots of books and resources for children experiencing loss before and after a loved one dies. You might also have access to local childhood bereavement services.

Marie Curie has suggestions for both children and teenagers of books that deal with death and grief

My daughter and her family visited us every Sunday. Maggie was 13 and Tom was 9 when granddad died. We had told them that granddad was very ill and that he might not be with us much longer.

They were involved in his care - Maggie was in charge of hugs for granddad and Tom turned the oxygen concentrator up and down as asked.  They both reminded him very loudly to take his pills at mealtimes.

They visited on the last morning of granddad’s life. They both coped well and came to the funeral. Tom did say a year later that he didn’t really believe granddad was dead until the funeral.  

Gill’s husband died a few years ago 

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Last medically reviewed: March 2018. Due for review: March 2021

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.