To ask you for your suggestions on how to help a woman who's husband has just had a shock terminal cancer diagnosis?

(20 Posts)

My older DD's father in law was rushed to hospital suddenly this week after becoming confused. He's been diagnosed with a massive inoperable brain tumour and will be sent home soon for his wife to care for him with the support of a Macmillan nurse. She doesn't work, so I don't think they will have any income. They are a pretty insular family so don't have friends or family other than my daughter and their two sons (who are 20 and 22 and quite young) for support. I don't know her particularly well as we've recently moved to the same town from a fair distance away so have only met a handful of times on special occaisions. They have lots of dogs, cats, and birds to care for. I would like to find ways to help. I don't have much spare cash as I'm a SAHM at the moment with a toddler, (husband works), and I have no transport so can't offer to drive anywhere. They live around 5 miles away. So far all I've come up with is: taking bags of shopping to my daughter to take to them and helping with her housework as she's been spending a lot of time with her MIL & FIL at hospital. Giving them as much cash as I could manage. Tomorrow I hope to take my grand daughters for the day and try to do more cleaning for DD and SIL. These things feel a bit pathetic in the face of such a horrible situation. Does anyone have any suggestions? Have you been in a similar situation and had or provided meaningful help? I'm particularly worried about my DD's MIL as she has no real support network and will be losing her long term partner and closest (only) friend. I'd be very grateful for any thoughts you might have, MN'ers.

toomuchtooold Fri 26-Jun-15 16:00:47

I'm trying to think back to when my dad died, what my mum could have done with. One thing I would mention to your DD to pass on is that Marie Curie will also assist in the care of someone with terminal cancer and unlike Macmillan they do night shifts, which was brilliant for my mum, who otherwise got very little sleep.

It can be difficult to give help to someone in that situation, specially if they are quite reserved usually - my mum is quite a reserved person and she found it a major stress to deal with all the strangers she suddenly found in her house, although the job of caring for my dad was too big for one person, so she had to (I live at the other end of the country, so couldn't do much except at weekends).
If it was my mum, I'd say, a wee card with a note saying "so sorry to hear the bad news, I wondered if I could do x/y/z for you" with specific ideas like the shopping and the cleaning. A lot of people said to us "anything we can do for you" but it's quite hard to ask for something based on that, you need to know what they are actually willing to do smile

I think it's really nice of you to want to do something with everything else you have on your plate, by the way. (I had my kids about a year after my dad died and while I'm sad that he never met them I'm kind of relieved that I didn't have to balance looking after toddlers with helping with his care.)

kinkyfuckery Fri 26-Jun-15 16:04:19

It's lovely of you to want to help.

How about shopping deliveries, ready meals and easy to prepare foods.
How about arranging for a dog walker and/or a local person to go in and feed and clean out the animals.
A cleaner

I'm sure just knowing you are there and thinking of them will help loads.

haveabreakhaveakitkat Fri 26-Jun-15 16:10:04

How awful. I think helping with your grandchildren would probably be the most helpful thing you can do your dd and her dh can support his parents as much as possible. Really sad. Shitty cancer sad

sadwidow28 Fri 26-Jun-15 16:12:20

When my DH was diagnosed terminal (only a few weeks to live) I nursed him at home with a male carer coming in twice a day to help with bed baths and a daily morning visit from the community nurse who was great at sorting out immediate prescriptions with the doctor and delivering later that day.

He had a good appetite so I was cooking breakfast, lunch and evening meal - then making a light supper. We often had friends travelling to make one last visit, so I was often cooking for extra people. But my day revolved around bathing, toileting, changing his bed, cooking, medications, taking him out for an hour or two in his wheelchair.

But the things I truly appreciated:

- ironing of pyjamas/bedding when the pile just kept growing
- my Mum visiting and doing a little bit of housework and cooking
- friends who would sit with DH for half an hour so I could soak -and cry quietly- in the bath
- friends who sent a pudding/sweet that I didn't have time to make
- a friend who asked daily if I needed shopping and would pick it up for me from the nearest town

You sound so kind. I know how devastated the family will be feeling at receiving such news. They won't have time to properly process it before the end comes. That is when support becomes really vital.

PHANTOMnamechanger Fri 26-Jun-15 16:18:01

when FIL was very ill with cancer, he appreciated being read to, we had a few of us who would go read to him just to give MIL a break. I think she found it therapeutic too reading aloud to him, better than sitting at his side with conversation difficult - it helped the time pass.

could you send a few meals for the freezer - portions of shepherds pie etc?

littlefrenchonion Fri 26-Jun-15 16:36:18

Maybe make up some freezer meals that they can defrost?

Rather than money, could you offer to pay for the weekly grocery shop and have it delivered? Or maybe for a cleaner to come in regularly?

There is a lovely little charity called The Cinnamon Trust who help out with pets when a family member becomes ill. Maybe get in touch and see if there are any foster carers in your area who could take at least some of them in for a little while, when the going gets tough.

What a sad, horrible situation. My heart goes out to you all x

derxa Fri 26-Jun-15 16:54:35

I don't have any other suggestions at the mo. but I just burst into tears thinking about how kind you are. I'm dealing with my terminally ill father at the minute and would love someone like you on my side. Emotional support and be there if you think she wants you there to give her a little break. What a horrible situation for all.
Dx

Ludoole Fri 26-Jun-15 18:26:55

Im in this situation with my dp at the moment sad
All i want is someone to talk to...
If they call macmillan, they will help with benefits and financial entitlements over the phone.

Fatmomma99 Fri 26-Jun-15 18:34:21

This is a very sad thing.

Personally, I wouldn't just do anything off your own back, because you don't know what's wanted.

I would write (pen and paper) to them, saying how sorry you are and offering to help in any way you can, suggest some of things here, and include your email and mobile.

Very sad.

Very lovely of you to offer help.

Your DD may need support too, because her DH and any DC will be affected - maybe there are ways you can support her so she can support them (chat to her about it, maybe).

Derxa, Ludoole, I'm so sorry to hear about your situations. Sorry to make you cry Derxa, you sound like you have quite enough to deal with already. If chatting using the mumsnet pm thingy would help you at all I'd be very happy to hear from you? Ludoole - thanks, I'll make sure my daughter and her mil know that macmillan can help with finances. Cinnamon trust sounds very useful too - thanks littlefrenchonion. To those suggesting cooking and getting groceries etc - thanks, good ideas. I can see the sense in offering specific things rather than general help, sounds like great advice too. Thanks everyone. So sorry for all the people in similar situations, I can't imagine how hard it must be.

Fatmomma99 - all good points, thank you. I am amazed at how well my dd is coping. She has been a real rock for her dh's family this week. I'm so proud of her! She's only 21, but she's totally the person you want by your side in a crisis, she's incredible. She puts me to shame!

Ludoole - sorry, I meant to add if you wanted to pm, and feel as though it would help to have an extra person to chat to, your messages would be very welcome. So sorry you're in such a hard situation too sad

Timetodrive Fri 26-Jun-15 21:37:16

When my friend went through it she had two strong memories, one was a brown envelope with money that had no name and today she does not know who sent it. The second was a chocolate cake off a friend which she iced with her phone number and the word anytime. It is hard to know what the person wants or needs. You must be DP proud of DD.

Timetodrive Fri 26-Jun-15 21:38:56

not sure where DP came from

Finola1step Fri 26-Jun-15 21:43:54

I think the main thing is to carry on what you are doing: Support your DD and Son in law so that they can in turn support his parents.

Manic3mum Fri 26-Jun-15 21:55:20

You are kind! Offer your support and be available when you can. You can never predict just how much help is needed or for how long - it would have been great if we had someone thoughtful like you around when our family was in the similar situation.

BikketBikketBikket Fri 26-Jun-15 22:39:54

OP your DD sounds a treasure - I'm sure that you're very proud of her. She and her DH have such a lot to take on (I was 30 when I was in her position, and it's very, very difficult).
I would agree with pp that writing to your DD's MIL is the way to go - a friendly word goes a long way.
You can probably help most at the moment by taking over some of your DD's childcare (and maybe some housework/ironing/cooking for her family) to free them up to support her PIL. Talk to your DD about this...
flowers to all on this thread who are in this situation

Sazzle41 Fri 26-Jun-15 23:30:42

Oh OP how sad. My Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour out of the blue at age 52. It was horrible as he was so clever, he went to Uni a year early etc and it destroyed his brain function - when he had always said to us the one thing i dont ever want if i get old is to end up like that.

Someone to talk to and/or cry to would have really helped, as at 19 i didnt feel i could burden friends with something so huge. I really needed a chat, a long cry and a cuddle and my DM was in bits so not able to be there for me. A letter would be a lovely idea too. I wrote one to my Auntie after my Uncle passed 2 months later and she said it meant the world to her and she kept it til she died. I so feel for you and your family OP & the other poster in similar situation. Thinking of them all.

sadwidow28 Sun 28-Jun-15 20:50:36

IBS I am just checking back in to see how you, DD and her FIL are doing.

You stretched out a hand for immediate ideas, but you will need to unburden over the coming weeks. Things that are appropriate and needed do change from week to week, and then day to day.

Are you okay?

Is your DD okay?

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