Five Things I learnt from having a parent with a terminal illness, by Heledd Francis.

By Heledd Francis whose father died in 2007 after living with lymphoma for 10 years

By Heledd Francis whose father died in 2007 after living with lymphoma for 10 years

1. Although it's sometimes good to be prepared for death, you don't have to act on that information. I never actually believed my dad was going to pass until the day before he died, when I realised he was deteriorating quickly. I think others had accepted before that but I don't think having a positive outlook and hope is a bad thing if it helps keep you going through the tough times.

2. You don't have to plan. We didn't discuss dad dying with him. So we didn't discuss funeral arrangements or anything. I read a poem at his funeral because we had a conversation months earlier about our favourite poems. I think it's a good time to make notes (mental or actual) about things you'd like to remember about them. Favourite songs, authors, foods, all sorts. It will help you to look back but it will be lovely to tell others too. Hospital time was a time when I talked a lot to dad about things we didn't normally discuss, such as poetry!

3. Take all the pictures and videos. Dad died almost 12 years ago now so I didn't really take pictures on my phone. I have plenty of my mam with my children, and with me and my brother, videos of her to show her voice, her actions, her laugh! They are a great comfort and I wish I had more of my dad.

4. Go to see them as often as you can, but try to carry on normally too. You'll probably want to be with your parent more and it will help you and them to do so. But it's also important to be away from it and have normality because that will keep you sane and give you the strength to support them. Don't underestimate the power of talking to others about what's going on. Especially people who don't know much about the situation - friends or even professionals.

5. Don't be afraid of making plans. Have things to look forward to, on your own, but also with your parents. If things change because of a hiccup or a change in health then deal with that at the time. #makingmemories is cheesy, but it does give you beautiful moments to look back, talk and smile about.

Heledd Francis

About Heledd Francis
Heledd's father Eifion died in 2007 after a decade long battle against lymphoma. He was 57. She was born on his birthday and inherited his love for rock music and gangster movies.
Heledd lives in Cardiff with her husband, two children and dog, none of whom met her father. She works as a teacher in a Welsh medium school. Both her children carry their grandfather's name in some form.