DD, Aged 17

    When people would talk they didn't know what to say which was understandable.  more...


    Mimi - 15 years old

    I lost myself doing stupid things, angry and sad and depressed at everything. I ended up failing my classes, not caring about school, and getting into fights.  more...


    Chelsea - 14 years old

    I stuck my head round the door in the room mum was in, and she looked really ill. I couldn't understand what was happening - one minute my mum was fine and the next she was ill.  more...


    Clair - aged 14

    Something I wish is I could just have one more day with my dad! - to tell him how much I love him and how sorry I am for all the bad things I have said and done to him!  more...


    Nicole - 17 years old

    This time the doctors are unable to operate. He has already had 6 sessions of chemo and is having another 6 sessions. I cannot help feeling I may lose him.  more...


    Rirrif - 15 years old

    I have been staying with my dad because my mom doesn't want me around when she is sick, which is all the time. My dad works at night so I spend a lot of time alone since I'm not with my mom. I'm afraid she is going to die and I'll blame myself for not being there more. more...


    HT - 13 years old

    She has been so strong about this and is keen to put it all behind her.  more...

If your parent is dying

Sadly for some, there may come a time when you realise that your parent is not going to get better. The cancer can no longer be controlled with more treatment and current treatment of the cancer may stop.

During this time you and your family will not be alone as there are many specialist medical and nursing staff that will look after you all. Medications for pain relief and other symptoms (i.e. to stop nausea etc) are given so that your parent is made as comfortable as possible. This is often called ‘palliative care’ or ‘palliative treatment’. Specialist nurses, home care assistants, social workers, physiotherapists and volunteers will also be available to help the family with practical things, the financial situation or dealing with the emotions and reactions you are all going through. Caring for someone at the end of their life can be done at home, in a hospice, or in hospital. It depends on what feels right for your parent and for the whole family. It can also depend on what kind of problems your parent has and where they can best be treated.

Stays in hospitals or hospices can be for a short period until the patient is well enough to return home, although occasionally the stays are sometimes longer lasting and the patient may never return home. Some hospices have day centres where people go for a day or two per week. Others have both day centres and in-patient beds where patients go for short stays to help get the right treatment for pain control and symptom relief. These short term stays are also known as respite care and they give family members a break from caring as well as helping the patient feel better.

Coping with emotions

It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel or react when you know that you are about to lose someone you love. Wherever your parent chooses to be at the end of life, there are services available to help with all the issues that you are going through as a family. These can include medical help, practical help and emotional and spiritual support.

It is usual that you, your parent and other family members will experience a lot of disruption and change during this time. Changes in routines and carers may occur and if your parent is cared for at home, it is very likely that your home will feel different as you may have lots of health professionals coming in and out at all times of the day and maybe night. You may also find that your friends, relatives, teachers and neighbours treat you differently as they may be unsure about what to say or do.

It is likely that you and your parent will feel a range of emotions like sadness, disbelief, anger, relief and guilt. These feelings will come and go with different intensity as time goes on and your parent may be getting weaker. Questions such as why my parent, why now, are common as is bargaining for more time (if he/she can only live until my birthday etc). If you find yourself bargaining, take note as sometimes this can help you work out what you want to achieve in the remaining time left. Talk over your hopes and fears with your parent or someone else who you trust. This can help relieve anxiety about leaving things unsaid or undone.

Sometimes during this period people feel lost for words. This is ok. It is natural to cry and you do not have to pretend to be brave when you do not feel it. You may find that you begin to relive at lot of memories and feel the need to 'put right' anything that is worrying you. Your parent will probably be going through a similar process. Like you, they will be feeling sad, lonely and isolated. They will also be grieving over losing you and other family members. Some parents help themselves prepare for death by writing letters to those who are close to them, or making a scrap book or a videotape so that family members have something to remember them by. Although these can be very sad things to do, they can help and be satisfying as they can help people reflect on things – thinking about things very carefully. This can help making thoughts and feelings more manageable. You too may want to make something for you or your parent that will help you during this time. Make sure though that you only do what feels comfortable and right. It is important that you stop and think if there is anything particular you want to say to or do for your parent. This can make you feel better so that you don’t blame yourself later on for not having said and done things you wanted to. Do not push yourself if you don't feel it's right for you. Try to take one day at a time and make the most of it.

The doctor may have given you a rough idea of how long your parent has left to live. If this is the case, it is important to know that such an estimate will not be exactly accurate, as it is almost impossible to know the precise answer to this question. We often see that people can live much longer than the doctors thought. Because the doctors do not want to give false hope or cause false fear, they are often very reluctant to say anything about how long someone has left to live.