Child struggling

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I'm hoping for some support on how to manage and support my 11 year old the best.

I moved my terminally ill mum in with us on Christmas eve, we were told the news put of the blue the week before. We have been open and honest wirg out son since,, he is and has been every close to grandma and took it hard, but he's been brilliant, gives grandma the biggest hugs and he means the world to mum. 

Mum went into hosp last week, her health declining, and we now have her home, a care package and nurses visiting daily. My son got upset at bedtime and said he can't look grandma in the eye and doesn't want to talk to her as he doesn't know what to say and can't do it as he feels so upset. It breaks my heart, I know it would break mums too. I don't know what to do. 

I told him he was brave telling me and he's been so strong and supportive of grandma but I understand he's finding it difficult. I asked him if he wanted to keep seeing grandma and he did and wamt's her here, but he's struggling. I said we'd go in to say morning and night to grandma together bit it's so hard seeing him so upset. Is there any advice on supporting him, or what to do for the best? 

How very open, we are an open family, we both had a cry this evening, but seeing him so upset broke me. 

Thank you 

  • Hello Elfster and thank you for contacting the Macmillan Online Community.

     We don’t specialise in supporting children, but I would say it’s good that your son’s able to express to you how he’s feeling. I would encourage him to keep talking certainly. The following advice is taken from our publication Talking to children and teenagers when an adult has cancer.


    • Make sure your son keeps up with school, other activities, and friendships.


    • Let him know it is okay to enjoy himself.


    • Give him little things to do to help out.


    • Let his school know, (if they don’t already) so they can also offer support.


    The publication above also has a list of useful organisations in the back that might be able to support your son including Hope Support Services. They support 5 – 25-year-olds when a family member is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. You can visit their website or call them on 01989 566317 to find out more about what they do.

    Our publication Preparing a child for loss is produced with the childhood bereavement charity Winstons Wish. It aims to help prepare and talk to children whose parents, guardians or loved ones are near to the end of their life. It is a practical guide to help with difficult conversations about death and includes details of who can support children and families when preparing a child for loss.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mum and that your son’s struggling with the situation Elfster, I appreciate it can’t be easy just now. How are you? Do you have support around you, people you can speak to about how you’re managing?

    We’re here for your emotional support but we also have nurses and financial teams here as well. If there’s anything else we can help with please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

     Take care.

    Alex, Information and Support Adviser

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.