Helping children deal with a terminally ill family member

Amy Luster, MA, MFT Psychotherapist, shares advice on how to help support children who are dealing with a terminally ill family member
Advice For Helping Kids Deal With A Terminally Ill Family Member
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Helping children deal with a terminally ill family member

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Here are some suggestions for how you can support your child through the impending death of a loved one. Use clear, concrete language that your child can understand based on their developmental age. Avoid the use of euphemisms. Include them in what is happening and normalize the feelings they may be having, whether this is sadness, anger, confusion, fear. Frequently you may need to remind your child that it is not their fault that this is happening. This is especially important in the impending death of a sibling. Children may take it personally that they may have wished ill feelings onto a sibling as is completely normal and may now feel as if they are somehow responsible for the impending death of their brother or sister. As much as possible, involve your child in the preparation of what is to come. Encourage your child to find a way to remember or memorialize their loved one in the days and weeks to come. Reassure your child that they are safe and that you will continue to be a family even after the loss of this loved one. You will find a way to survive.

Amy Luster, MA, MFT Psychotherapist, shares advice on how to help support children who are dealing with a terminally ill family member

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Amy Luster, MA, MFT

Psychotherapist

Amy Luster, MA, is a psychotherapist and author. She holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and provides psychotherapy to individuals, couples, and families. She runs a group entitled, Parenting After a Loss which offers support, guidance, and education. Her emphasis is on assisting parents who have experienced a child-bearing loss whether from ongoing infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of a baby. Her goal is to help families function in a healthy, satisfying way despite their past loss. Amy, her husband and their four children live in Santa Monica, CA. 

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