Five Things I’ve learned from having a dead dad, by Sophie Ratcliffe.

By Sophie Ratcliffe   whose father died of cancer when she was 13

By Sophie Ratcliffe
whose father died of cancer when she was 13

1. Even very small children can tell that something is wrong. If you don’t tell them some of the truth, they’ll invent something of their own.

2. For much of the time, bereaved/soon-to-be bereaved teenagers won’t be thinking about a parent’s terminal illness. They will be worrying about their love lives, or about stuff at school, or about how many friends they have. This is normal. And they will feel guilty that they aren’t sad enough.

3. Some bereaved teenagers can be driven towards high risk behaviour involving alcohol, drugs, sex - or a mixture of all three. They’ll probably hide it from the surviving parent as much as possible, to avoid causing more concern.

4. Families in grief may struggle to support each other. Each family member is mourning a different lost relationship. 

5. Being bereaved as a child is world-shatteringly terrible, but there are gains as well as losses. Somewhere along the way, you might end up with buckets of ambition, a sense of what matters in life, and a desire to do things now. 

Sophie Ratcliffe

About Sophie Ratcliffe
Sophie Ratcliffe is the author of
The Lost Properties of Love. Her father died of cancer when she was thirteen. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.