“How do I explain cancer and death to my young daughters?” Show Notes

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Dear Dr. Bill,

My grandmother is in the final stages of cancer. She is wasting away and her physical changes have been dramatic.  In Grandma's moments of clarity, she has asked to see my daughters one last time. Everyone in the family thinks this is a good idea — except me.

My girls are 3 and 6 and I think they are too young to be exposed to this situation and will be frightened by Grandma's appearance. Also I don't know how to explain the concept of death to them without creating more fear.  What do you think?



Dear Megan,
I realize this is a very difficult decision for you. You want to protect your children from fear and pain, yet you want to honor your grandmother's wishes to see her great-grandchildren.

My own perspective is that death is a natural part of life, and with proper preparation, it would be good to allow your daughters to say "goodbye."

Be honest with your girls about your grandmother’s condition. Explain that she is very, very sick, and that sometimes people get so sick their bodies don't work right anymore. Let them know she may look very different than she used to.

If your grandmother is a Christian, you can share with your daughters that the bible teaches that God will give her a brand-new healthy body in Heaven, one that will never get sick or die.

Let me recommend an excellent children's book you can read to them in the future. It's entitled Someone I Love Died by Christine Harder Tangwald.

Thanks for writing Megan, and may the Lord guide you during this difficult time.

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