Chapter 6: Supporting children in their grief

Supporting connections with the person who is ill

It’s hard to see my dad like this. We used to play baseball, and now we can barely do anything together. When I visit, we just sit there. But at the same time, when I’m not there, I miss him and I feel so guilty. I wish things were different.

I bring the kids to see their uncle every chance I get. He’s always been an important part of their lives, so it makes sense to continue this even though things are changing with his health. The kids seem to take this in stride and insist on bringing drawings and paintings for their uncle to decorate his room.

Just like adults, children of all ages struggle with spending time with, and being away from, the person who is sick. Going in with a plan and a handful of supplies can go a long way to help break the ice and find new ways of spending time together.

Try to think of a few things that the child could do with or for the person who is sick. You or the child may have your own ideas of things you could do, but if you’re having trouble, think about what the child and the person who is sick used to do together, and see if it can be adapted. If they are comfortable with it, children could share memories or stories about their day, or do homework or other independent activities, such as colouring or playing video games.

Click the arrows to see some activities that you could try or adapt if the person is able.

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to spend time or keep connected. Sometimes children may need a break from spending time with the person who is ill, and that is okay.

​​ Helpful resources