When someone in the family is seriously ill, be it a mental or a physical illness, it throws the whole family off balance and the lives of the other children change drastically. I know that as I have been through it. We found it challenging to meet the needs of our ill son as well as make sure that his siblings’ lives remained as stable and regular as possible; there were indeed times when this became an impossible task.
The other children need reassurance that they are not to blame. They might feel unwanted and maybe even forgotten, so it’s important to do one’s best to make them feel special and to put aside time for them every day. If they are young, ask for their opinion, thus making them feel part of the family.
We found that providing our other children with as much factual information as possible, was the correct way to handle the situation but where mental illness is concerned, we did not always know what was happening ourselves, making it difficult to explain as well as we would have liked to do. If a relative is suffering from a terminal illness, it is a good idea to provide the children with as much factual information as they are capable of understanding. The child must be prepared in advance.