How to talk to your young children
This topic is difficult. Of course, there is no one way to deal with how to tell children about a terminal diagnosis. For 14 months after my diagnosis, we elected not to tell our kids everything about my medical condition. Mark searched the internet for advice on the topic, but it’s very hard to gain knowledge from forums. The reality is that everyone’s family is different and everyone’s children react differently. We decided it didn’t feel right to tell them for that first year, but we both had a desire to do so the entire time. We just didn’t want them to have to shoulder the burden and absorb the stress.
My turn for the worse in May 2015 was what drove us to eventually tell the kids. We had them visit the hospital room one-at-a-time, and Mark and I told them in what we thought were age-appropriate ways. We were surprised by their resiliency! My 6-year-old daughter reacted by crying initially, but she soon stopped and within thirty minutes she was chasing her brother around the waiting room in a game of tag. It’s both a curse and a blessing that they are so young. Over the past 8 months since we told them, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to them more and to impress upon them our beliefs about death and what happens next. It’s a big relief for both Mark and me to be able to speak openly in front of them about my doctor’s appointments and the medicines I’m taking. It also helps that they understand why I sleep so much and why my back hurts (i.e. it’s not their fault!!). In hindsight, I wish we’d told the kids sooner. It’s nice to have the entire clan rally around and share in the fight; even when our warriors are so little.