children and thinking about dying

hi everyone,
thought I’d ask you for your advice. My 5 year old told me yesterday that he is worried about me and my husband dying,and is thinking about it quite a lot. We had a chat about the fact that most chidren’s don’t die until they the children are grown up, but that nobody can predict what will happen. He doesn’t seem particularly worried about me, but is being very affectionate at the moment- I am in the middle of more chemo at the moment. Are his worries a normal part of being 5 and beginning to understand mortality, or does he at some level know I am unlikely to be with him until he grows up?
best wishes, nicky

Hi India

You might be interested in one of our publilcations which discusses the subject of talking to children.

I have given the link here to the booklet which can be either downloaded or ordered through the site.

I do hope you find this useful.

Kind regards.


Hi Nicky

My son is now 10 but when he was 5 or 6 (long before I was DX)he had a very strong and at the time slightly upsetting obsession with death - his own and mine and his dad’s. I do think that it is probably a phase that they go through, mortality is probably not a concept they think of till then, I am sure others will have experiences too and hope that they can reassure you.

best wishes


Hi india1, i to have a 5 yr old son and he took me by suprize at christmas when he asked me if i would still be here. It’s very hard to hear this and at times i’ve been shocked.I’ve also noticed he talks a lot about going on holidays etc and i can see him watching me to gadge my reaction.I think this is a natural reaction and it just shows how this disease effects all the family. I to stuggle with not knowing how much info to give a 5yr old. Lesleyx

Hi All,
I think it is an age thing to some extent - five is about the age they start to think in concepts and are able to think about possibilities, the future, life and death, in a way they haven’t before, when life has always been about more immediate things.
My youngest was 8 when i was diagnosed with primary and liver secondaries at the same time (nearly 3 years ago). We were very honest with the children, as much as we felt they could handle at their ages, and as much as we knew ourselves. One day on the walk to school (after a couple of days of being unusually quiet) she asked me what would happen to her if i died. I was able to describe how she would feel very sad at first, and she and Daddy and her siblings would feel like crying a lot of the time, but that gradually they would be able to go back to school and go out and see friends, and feel happy again. It was when I described how she would still live in our house with the rest of the family that she visibly relaxed. It was as though she had had no mental picture of what it would be like up until that point. All she needed was to know the facts, and she was reassured. When I talked about going on holidays with Daddy and her siblings and doing things without me, it gave her something to relate to. I was so glad she had felt able to ask. It was a very special moment and a real turning point for her.
Hope this helps
Jacquie x

I was dx three years ago with secondaries straight off and my youngest daughter was 7 at the time we explained basically what was wrong with me just enough so that she could understand.

REcently she has taken a backward step and refusing to go to sleep at night unless she has someone with her, She has even taken to sleeping on the floor of her brothers bedroom.

The problems seem to have arisen fron my dad having a stroke and we took her to hospital to see him and one of my best friends dying of cancer whilst i was at the bedside.

Last night i laid on the bed with her for ages trying to get her to tell me whats wrong and eventually she said that she didn’t want to grow up because everything changes and I wouldn’t be there because I have got cancer.

It broke my heart to here her saying these things and its so hard to know how to deal with it.

I think like Jacksy said you have to be honest with them but its so so hard


thank you for sharing your experiences-knowing you’re not the only one with worries helpsx

Hi caroline,

Thinking about you. That must have been very tough. Are you chatting tonight??

Julie xxx

hello julie
yes i will be on tonight