What helped me after my father’s terminal diagnosis.

By Josephine Rose, aged 15

I was 12 when my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer; he was only expected to live for six months. He found out his cancer was terminal in the summer, and I think I found out at the end of the year. You couldn’t tell, I had no clue; it was a shock for me as it had probably been going on for a long while, but I hadn’t noticed any signs or symptoms.

I didn’t look at him any differently in terms of who he was, he was still my Dad. Even though I was going to hospital appointments, taking time off school, and taking care of him, to me that didn’t matter. I just needed to be there for him; I wouldn’t have that future, so I had to make the most of what I had. 

As I knew he was going to die, I had time to address any issues or worries I had. Child Bereavement UK helped me to know what to say. You never know if you are going to get to say goodbye to the person you love and for me it was all about ‘Well, how do I let him know, how do I show it?’. It was about making sure that he knew everything he needed to know, and thinking through the whole situation and what I wanted out of it.

As long as the person knows you love them, that’s the most important thing. Child Bereavement UK helped me word it and how I would say it.

Talking about it with someone was so helpful, it helped my relationship with my Dad because I was able to talk to him about things that he wasn’t even comfortable with – but it made it easier for us to deal with the whole thing.

We made memories, shared experiences, but that 'goodbye moment' never happened as I wasn’t there when he died. But I felt that I didn’t need it because I’d had all that time with him to say everything that I needed to say. Even without the support from Child Bereavement UK, I think I would have known to say ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m going to miss you’. 

If someone is expected to die, say what you want when you need to say it. Don’t think ‘I’ll tell him later’, say it now because you might not have later. It’s all about making sure they know everything that you need them to know.

Josephine with mum, Kathryn