Telling people your loved one has died

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Most of your friends probably know that your parent or sibling has been having cancer treatment. But having to tell them that your loved one has died and face their questions about how you’re handling it is not easy.

It’s up to you to decide who to tell, and when you’re ready. You might be holding off telling some or all of your friends because you’re worried about how they will react or that you might get upset when you start talking about it. But telling your friend what’s happened and how you’re feeling about it can be a huge relief and give you a different perspective.

Even if you’re not ready to tell people, you may get hit with a question about how your parent or sibling is going and then have to tell them – so it’s a good idea to be prepared with some answers.

How to tell them

Most people aren’t too comfortable talking about death. Have a think about what you’re going to say before you talk to them. You can even practice by writing it down first. When you tell someone your parent or sibling has died they may be shocked and not know what to say or do. They might be worried about saying the wrong thing or upsetting you, so say nothing. They might say something dumb or ask you a question that upsets you. Keep in mind that they most likely don’t mean to upset or annoy you – they don’t understand what you’re going through and are probably just concerned and trying to be supportive.

Helpful tip: Talk to one of your closest friends and ask them to help you in telling others and to be the main contact with your peer group at work, school, sport or other social groups.


If it’s too hard to talk

Sometimes talking is too hard, but you still want your friends to know what’s happened and how you are feeling. You can try putting it in an email, start a blog or website or keep people posted via Facebook. Or tell them about this website where they can read about the kinds of things you’re going through and ways they can support you.

Want some ideas or advice?

Join Canteen’s Community to connect with other bereaved young people or talk to a counsellor.

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