How do children cope with a terminally ill parent?

I am constantly amazed at the capacity for resilience we have as human beings. And in particular, two human beings. These being my children.

I have already said how my wife received her diagnosis over 6 years ago, and has had numerous bouts of treatment and surgery. She has been utterly brilliant in coping with that, and pushing herself back to strength and health. I have tried to support her the best I can during that time, feeling impotent at the practical help I can give, but hopefully helping her by doing the things she doesnt need to do so she can concentrate on getting back. But I can feel my levels of strength and resilience failing.

I struggle to get back up again after a blow to our lives. I have written elsewhere how my mental health has suffered terribly, and in this regard my concentration and motivation are shot, especially from a work perspective. I lack the ability to properly prioritise, and this gets me frustrated.

However, through all this horrible process, my children have shown amazing grit and determination.

My daughter is now 17, and has spent her whole life at secondary school with a sick mother. This is a key time in a young girls life, where friendships are made, and the future is starting to be mapped out. A distraction like a sick parent could easily knock this, and set up problems for the future. Yet she has thrived. She has made friends. She has played netball for the school (and for a club outside school). She has achieved ridiculously good grades at GCSE, and won awards for academia in the school. She has started 4 A levels, and so far has very good expected grades. She has performed in numerous school plays, sings in the choir, and has received the DofE silver award.

She has overcome both having a terminally ill parent, and lived through the Covid pandemic, and is still thriving. Her ability to focus and resilience comes from her mother, the determination that she has shown throughout reflecting that of my wife. I dont know how they do it.

My son meanwhile is 11. Being less emotionally mature, he has found it hard. We have had many tears and upset from him, as he tries to comprehend what is going on. I dont know to help him cope with the potential and ultimately reality of losing his mother at such a young age. Yet through this, he has achieved at school. He has been accepted into a very good local school, has acheived great grades at his SATs, and is now getting really good expected grades. He has played hockey for the school, plays football for a local side, and has a wide group of friends. Again, I dont know how he finds the resilience to do this.

Children have an amazing ability to recover. I dont know if this is their immaturity. Maybe they dont fully appreciate the magnitude of our situation, which is very dire, or dont have the ability to appreciate it. Maybe they can compartmentalise things much better than adults. Whatever, it is awe inspiring.

If I need to increase my motivation and strength, I just have to look at what they have achieved during these last 6 years. They are my inspiration, my heroes, and ultimately the reason I keep going.

Doing some research, I have found the following link on developing mental resilience. This is aimed at children, but the suggested methods on building your strength are excellent resources for all ages.,to%20get%20through%20tough%20times.