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Issues with going to school

It can be very difficult to know whether to keep sending your children to school every day when someone in the family might die soon.

You will probably feel like keeping your child at home to be with their loved one as much as possible.

But keeping some routine in your child’s life can help them to feel more stable and safe. It might help them to go to school and see that normal life can continue, even though things are changing at home.

There may also be days when keeping them home just feels like the right thing to do.


Talk to your child’s teacher about what is going on at home.

You don’t have to tell them anything in detail if you don’t want to. But if they know generally what’s happening, teachers can:

  • understand why your child is behaving in a certain way
  • give the support your child needs
  • help to plan when to tell your child’s friends and classmates what they’re going through

Older children

Be sure to ask older children what they want you to do.

Teenage children might choose to tell their teachers themselves. Or they might not want their teachers to know at all. This could be because they don’t want the attention, or to be seen as different from the other children.

Reassure your teenager that their teacher can help and won’t tell anyone else without your child’s permission. 

Older children might feel more comfortable talking to a close friend or older relative, rather than their teachers. But if you can, do try to convince them that the school needs to know about any major changes in a pupil’s life.

Help and support for your children

Last reviewed: 
19 Feb 2019
  • Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer (CSG4)
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), March 2004

  • Adolescent grief: "It never really hit me...until it actually happened"
    GH.Christ (and others)
    Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002 Sep 11;288 (10):1269-78

  • Current approaches to helping children cope with a parent's terminal illness
    GH.Christ and AE. Christ 
    A Cancer Jounal for Clinicians. 2006 Jul-Aug;56 (4):197-212 

  • Outpatient management of Advanced Cancer - Symptom control, Support, and Hospice in the Home
    BJ. Andrew
    J.B Lippincott Company, 1985

Information and help

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