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6 Things You Should Avoid Saying to a Parent with a Terminal Illness


“I am terminally ill.”
This is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking and utterly horrifying news you will ever hear from your parent. The person you once knew as strong and invincible is now slowly breaking apart. The hardest part is witnessing their condition and not being able to help. You are probably thinking about offering them kind words to make them feel better. However, you should be careful about what you say to them.

247 Care Plus, a Private Home Care in Upland, California, creates a list of what you should not say to a loved one who has a terminal illness. Read on to find out.

  1. “I am really sorry.”
    The person you are talking to is the same person who raised you up. Growing up, you look up to them as your knight and inspiration. Do not replace your look of admiration with a look of pity. Your parent would not want to look at you pitying them.
  2. “A strong person like you can definitely win this!”
    We understand that you mean well. But avoid making your parent feel as if their illness is a battle to be won. This will just put a lot of pressure on them.
  3. “Everything is going to be okay.”
    Sure, things will probably be okay. But right now, it is not. Telling your parent that everything will be fine may seem like you are cutting them off on what they want to say. It may appear to them that they should keep what they feel to themselves. Instead of saying that, you can tell them that “it is not okay, but I am here for you.”
  4. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
    We understand that this is painful for you. No one wants to lose someone they love so much. However, avoid making it about you. Saying these words to your parent will just tear them apart, especially when there is nothing they can do to better their condition.
  5. “If you could have just listened to me.”
    Sometimes, we say things out of frustration, like blaming the person for their illness. Lines such as, “How many times have I told you to stop smoking” or “If you could have just followed the doctor’s instructions” Stop! There is no reason to point fingers now. Do not make your parent feel as if they deserve their situation.
  6. “Just forget what the doctor said. My friend knows someone who sells magic drugs.”
    This is one of the most common things a child says to their parent who has been diagnosed with cancer. Remember that your parent is not an experiment. Do not force your decisions on them.

247 Care Plus provides Hospice Care in California. Our goal is to keep your loved one comfortable despite their terminal illness. For inquiries, feel free to talk to one of our incredible staff. You can get in touch with us by phone at 714-794-2023 or through email at

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