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Talking about cancer with the Grandparents

Grandparents can play an important part in helping you care for your child. At a time of increased stress, you may need more help from your family and friends and sometimes your parents will be the major source of support. At times, what is meant as support can feel like interference. It is important to let your parents know what is helpful and to keep them informed of important information so that they can understand and support your decisions.

Grandparents are concerned about their grandchild and also concerned for their own son/daughter and for their other grandchildren. Sometimes this ‘double hurt’ is not fully appreciated by other people.

Sometimes, the thoughts and feelings you and they are experiencing, as well as your existing relationship, can make communication difficult. If this is the situation, please talk with your child’s social worker, doctor or nurse coordinator.

Grandparents’ roles in the family may change and this can be a joy and a challenge. They might be more involved in their adult child’s life than they have been for years. They might want to be more helpful but not know how to help their child, their grandchild and the family. Grandparents can give practical support – taking their child and grandchild to and from hospital, looking after other children.

Their emotional support is also important – sitting with their child or grandchild in hospital, listening to them, and sharing their emotions about what is happening, giving time to brothers and sisters who may be feeling left out. Grandparents may need to consider looking after themselves. Informal support from friends and family and formal support services may help them manage the shock of a diagnosis of cancer and the implications of treatment for their grandchild and family.

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