If you are a teenager who has just found out that one of your parents has a terminal illness, you are probably going through so many emotions that you can’t distinguish them all. Trying to sort out and cope with those feelings will be difficult beyond anything else you have ever had to deal with. Sorting through those feelings is essential to being at peace when the terminal illness takes over.
How Teens can cope with Feelings About a Parents Terminal Illness:
Understand what will happen- Find out what the illness is all about. Get as much information as you can so you know what to expect as time passes on. This will help you to better be able to help your terminally ill parent. You will feel much better about yourself and the situation if you are able to do everything you can to make your parent’s remaining time as comfortable as possible. This will help you feel closer to the parent that is dying. Teens of parents with terminal illnesses have a lot to cope with. The more you know about the illness, the more equipped you will be to handle it.
Face it Head-On- Face the issue head-on. Don’t run away from it because it doesn’t work that way. You have to deal with your feelings about your terminally ill parent. Whatever feelings you have, you have to talk to someone about. Look at the issue at hand. Don’t look for ways to “numb” the feelings that you are having. Numbing the feelings means that eventually you will have to face it. You can’t stay numb forever. Face the problem now so you can spend this time with your dying parent. Make the most of the time you have left with him/her.
Anger- Anger is a part of the feelings that you will have to cope with as a teen with a parent who has a terminal illness. The anger is real and it is normal to feel that way. You can deal with that anger though. Don’t waste too much time being angry though. Get your frustrations out about the disease that is taking your parent away from you. If the anger is too deep to deal with on your own, seek counseling or talk to your terminally ill parent so he/she understands how you feel.
Sadness- When teens are dealing with the terminal illness of a parent, there will be a great deal of sadness. Don’t try to cover that up because you think you will make things easier for the parent who is dying. Your terminally ill parent would want to know that you are sad about what is happening. It is okay to cry and it is okay to talk about your memories. Your parents, both of them, can help you through this time if you let them. Never try to pretend as though nothing is happening. Be sad for as long as you need to be. Covering your feelings about the terminal illness will only lead you to do things to mask the feelings such as drugs and alcohol and that is the worst thing that you can do.
Prepare- Prepare yourself for what is going to happen. You can do this by following the guide above and by mentally accepting the fact that you are a teen whose parent is terminally ill. Hearing the words and accepting that your parent is going to die are two different things. In order to deal with your feelings about your parents illness, you have to accept that it is actually happening. If possible, go to your parent’s next doctor’s visit. This will help you face the situation a little easier. Prepare yourself for the inevitable no matter how difficult it is.
If you are a teen with a terminally ill parent, one of the best ways to cope is to know that you did everything in your power to help make your ill parent as comfortable as possible during the illness. There will be several stages that your parent will go through before the illness completes its cycle. Be there for your mother/father to give them what they need. Fluff his/her pillow, make his/her favorite meal and talk about the memories that you have with that parent. Above all else, understand that you have a special opportunity that not everyone gets. You have the chance to say goodbye in the right way. Don’t pass that opportunity up. Let your terminally ill parent know exactly how much your truly love him/her and will miss him/her. Life is sometimes much shorter than we expect it to be. Coping with the feeling of being a teen with a terminally ill parent is difficult but you can get through.