Explaining to a 3.9 yo that his beloved Grandma is dying.

(6 Posts)
dunkedbiscuits Mon 24-Feb-14 05:22:04

How the hell am I meant to explain?

She's been fighting cancer for almost 3 years so he's always taken her changing appearance as normal.

Hoe do we prepare him for the inevitable? She's currently extremely ill and doesn't want him to see her like that but we were away when she went into hospital and I don't want her to just disappear.

When we were told that there was nothing else to be done a couple of weeks ago he saw me upset and I explained that she was ill and the doctor didn't have the medicine to make her better. He started having bad dreams and for a couple of days his behaviour was awful. But he saw that she didn't look any different so was reassured.

We live opposite my parents so he sees them a lot.

What is the best way of dealing with this? I am struggling with it and very emotional (also pregnant).

wordsmithsforever Mon 24-Feb-14 06:05:10

I'm so sorry you're going through this OP - it is so hard. We went through this when DD was 3 and her beloved Grandpa died and then again when she was 12 and DS was 9 when their equally loved Granny died (my parents lived with us so were very much part of their lives like yours).

I tried to be honest as much as possible - in the way you have which I think is totally appropriate (telling him that she is very ill). I remember after my dad died, DD asked if she could phone him in heaven and it was sad having to tell her she couldn't (if only)! DD was quite interested in the practical details when Grandpa died (like who would take Granny shopping) as this had been 'his job' - so we reassured her about this and other practical things.

I found the Cruse website very helpful - see www.cruse.org.uk/children - there is a lot of advice there for all the various stages of illness and bereavement.

After my parents had died I also found the picture book Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley very helpful but I think this is best for explaining death rather than while someone is battling illness.

When my mom died she didn't want the kids to see her at the very end in hospital looking so ill but she did talk to them on the phone. I also encouraged them to make her cards (obviously not with the emphasis on 'get well') telling her how much they loved her, drawing pictures and I told them how much she loved receiving them.

Also do remember to look after your physical health OP - lots of sleep (I know this isn't always easy at your stage) as well as eating well. Grieving is hard work and exhausting and of course you are grieving now even though your mum is still with you. thanks sad

wordsmithsforever Mon 24-Feb-14 06:19:44

OP this page was also very helpful - see www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Livingwithandaftercancer/Relationshipscommunication/Talkingtochildren/Ifyouarenotgoingtorecover.aspx

(It's written from the perspective of a very ill parent sad but is helpful for a beloved grandparent like your situation too.)

It's doubly hard coping with what you're going through when you're pregnant OP (I was pregnant when my sister died and it makes an already emotional time very difficult indeed - and of course all the magazines tell you you should be 'blooming' which doesn't help!)

Remember to cut yourself as much slack as you can. Don't expect anything from yourself. If you want to cry, cry. If you don't that's ok too. I know with your DS and your mum you will be trying to be strong for everyone but holding it all for everyone else is very tough. So sorry you are going through this now. thanks

Weegiemum Mon 24-Feb-14 06:24:04

We've used the resources at Winston's Wish when a child in my dd1's class died.

So sorry to hear about your mum x

dunkedbiscuits Tue 25-Feb-14 21:03:20

Mum's been moved to the hospice and we've been told she has a few weeks left.

wordsmithsforever Wed 26-Feb-14 07:42:47

I'm so sorry to hear this dunkedbiscuits. Wishing you strength. X

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