What words should I use?

If you need to prepare a child for the death of someone they care about, it can be confronting to find the right words to use. See also tips on answering specific questions.

Learn about the words you should use for:


Infants, toddlers and preschoolers

When advanced
cancer is diagnosed
“Some people with this sort of cancer get better, but some don’t. I am going to do everything
I can to get better.”
When end of life is near “Daddy is very sick now. The doctors say there isn’t any medicine that can make him better. We think that means he is going to die soon. We will try to spend some special quiet time together.”
To explain death “When Grandma died, her body stopped working – she can’t breathe or move or cuddle you anymore. A dead body can’t come back to life. We won’t be able to see Grandma again, but we will always know she loved us.”

Younger children

When advanced
cancer is diagnosed
“Some people with this sort of cancer get better, but some don’t. I’m trying to do everything I can to treat the cancer, and I will always let you know how I’m feeling.”
When end of life is near “The doctors say that the treatments have stopped working for Dad. There isn’t anything else they can do to treat the cancer. We think that means Dad will die soon. We want to make the most of the time he has left.”
To explain death “I have some very sad news to tell you. Grandma died last night. She can’t breathe or move anymore. Is there anything you’d like to know about how Grandma died?”

Older children

When advanced
cancer is diagnosed
“Some people with this sort of cancer recover, but some don’t. I’m planning to do everything I can to keep the cancer under control, and I will always let you know how the treatments are going.”
When end of life is near “The doctors say that the treatments haven’t worked for Dad. There isn’t anything else they can do to treat the cancer. We think that means Dad will die soon. We want to make the most of the time he has left.”
To explain death “I have some very sad news. Grandma died last night … Is there anything you’d like to know about how Grandma died?”

 

48 hours

We were sitting in my sister’s lounge room again when Mum told me Dad was dying. I was like, “Are you serious? This can’t be true.”

From when Dad was first diagnosed with lung cancer to when he died was only four months. It was just so quick. The prognosis kept getting worse – first they said it was 12–18 months, then 3–4 months, then 48 hours.

I wasn’t there when he died. I went to a netball dinner. I didn’t want to be around it – that’s not how I wanted to remember him, it’s not what he was like. Dad told me, “Do what makes you feel comfortable. Do the things you need to do to cope.”

 When your parent dies, it’s like a snow globe has fallen off a bench and cracked and snow is going everywhere. But the cracks get mended, maybe with sticky tape, and the snow slowly calms down.

Izzy, 15-year-old whose father had cancer


Listen to our podcasts on Explaining Cancer to Kids and Family Dynamics and Cancer


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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in December 2018
View who reviewed this content
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Caring for someone with cancer
Practical advice and support for carers

Cancer information

Advanced cancer
Information for different stages of advanced cancer

What is grief?
A natural response to loss can involve a range of feelings and experiences

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