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When a Child Loses a Parent to Cancer

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: As an adult mentor to a 14-year-old boy who lost his mother to cancer three years ago, I'm wondering if you can recommend any websites with articles, research, or a book or two that expands on this exact type of loss.

I have noticed that despite doing well in school and seeming to have things very together, this boy's emotions can sometimes be a bit trying. I think his father may be avoiding the essential nurturing that the boy needs, especially now that his mother is gone.

A: Kudos to you for your mentoring of this young man. Even though his mother's death was three years ago, I am wondering, like you, if he might not have grief issues. There are some excellent books for teens on grieving. Contact the local cancer treatment center, his school counselor, and the public library. These people will have excellent pamphlets and books on losing a parent to cancer. Of course, the Internet and the American Cancer Society are also good resources.

I especially recommend that this young man join a grieving support group. Schools, hospices, and funeral homes often offer them. It doesn't matter how long ago the death was. A grieving group is a safe place to explore all the many emotions and dreams that a person experiences after a loss and which surface all through our lives. Adolescents are especially at risk when they have experienced the loss of someone dear to them.

You can learn yourself much about the grieving process from reading and help him through many of the issues if there are no support groups in your area, or if he doesn't want to participate.

More on: Expert Advice

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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