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Preparing children for impending bereavement

(12 Posts)
NotFromConcentrate Mon 10-Oct-11 16:21:26

Hi there,

Firstly, I hope I'm posting this in the appropriate place.

My FIL is coming to the end of a long illness, and we've been told it's likely he won't live more than a few more weeks.

We have 2 children - aged 8 and 4 - and feel like we ought to prepare them, and give them a chance to see their grandfather. Not only do we feel it's only right to start to prepare them, but we'd also like to give them the opportunity to visit and it would be quite apparent to them that he is very sick.

Does anyone have experience of this or advice that they'd be willing to share? We haven't experienced any bereavement since having the children and have no idea how to handle it.

Thank you,

NFC

honeylamb Mon 10-Oct-11 18:06:17

Sorry no experience, but didn't want to leave your post unanswered. Have you tried asking your local library, they often have or can order in fabulous books for children that help them prepare for and deal with bereavement.

Sorry you are going through this, life is very unpleasant at times.

Notsurehow Sat 15-Oct-11 02:57:41

I am no expert BUT....My own personal experience/view/tactic has always been to be very honest with my DD who is only now 6yrs old but has experienced the loss of her favourite Auntie.Sadly,due to it being suicide,whe didn't have the chance to "say goodbye" but she did get the chance to decorate the front end of her favourite Auntie's coffin with all sorts of things that a then 4yr old thought appropriate.
I think it really depends on both the child,their sensitivities/capacity to process the information but most of all,your instinct as a parent.
I have always been (almost) completely honest with DD about anything she asks....except admitting her Auntie chose to kill herself.
Personally,I would tell them how sick he is and it's "because he is old,or his body has worn out" or ...whatever you deem reasonable.
He and they (and again,this is only MY personal opinion) think they deserve the chance to see him even just one more time.If he looks terrible then it can be explained in terms of the illness,if he looks "OK" then you hav eprovided him with something special and your children with a very precious memory to either retain and cherish or retain and act on in their own way,God forbid they are faced with the same situation.
Apologies for the ramble and I would like to repeat again that this is only MY personal view which may not be appropriate for you and your children.
Either way,I wish you all the very best at this terrible time.

Thzumbazombiewitch Sat 15-Oct-11 04:54:25

Try www.winstonswish.org.uk/ - they are a leading charity in childhood bereavement and will probably have some good stuff that will help your DDs to understand/cope with the loss of their grandfather.

Sorry you're all having to go through this. It's very hard. sad

KristinaM Sat 15-Oct-11 05:34:12

You can say that he is very ill . The doctors have tried really hard to make him better but they cant and he is going to die.when that happenshis frindes and family will be very sad and they will probably cry. Especially MIL and daddy. And thats ok

You will need to explain death very simply. They will probably ask a lot about the practicaliies, what happens to the body etc.you will also need to explain your own views /beliefs /customs about this and about the funeral and any other rituals etc in your culture

They wil probably be very curious and pratical and much less " upset " than you imagine.its not they dont care, kids just how children deal with grief and loss. They might cry for 2mins then go off and play. Then later ask a question tnat you find realy upsettimg eg will the worms eat his body?

You need to be prepared to say the same things over and over again, as they wont get it for a while. Eg that once he is dead they wont see him again

IMO you are doimg the right thimg to prepare them and also let thme visit.

Growlithe Sat 15-Oct-11 05:54:13

I made a big mistake with my DD when my MIL was dying. She was 5 at the time, but quite mature and I felt I was preparing her honestly. But what I said was 'Nan isn't going to get better'. We visited all the time as MIL was at home, but when we were told by the nurses that her passing was imminent, I say to DD 'Nan will die soon'. She went hysterical and said 'I didn't know she was going to die, you never told me'. She had taken she isn't going to get better to mean she was going to stay as she was. I used a phrase that grown ups would understand, not realising a child would not understand what it implied. My point is you need to use simple language to spell out what is going to happen, even though you do not want to hear these words yourself.
If you believe in heaven, there is a good story called 'Waterbugs and Dragonflies' which would help. The Cancerbackup website also gives some good advice on talking to children about bereavement, abd preempts some common questions that they may ask, particularly about their own mortality. HTH

GRW Sat 15-Oct-11 19:23:05

I would recommend a book called "A Frst Look at Death" by Pat Thomas. It explains in simple terms how the body stops working when death occurs. Sorry I haven't worked out how to post links, but you can get it on amazon. I hope your DD is ok now Growlithe.

Growlithe Sat 15-Oct-11 19:53:39

Thanks GRW she is fine now. The thing is, children are very resilient, and she has adapted to a new life of seeing Grandad alone when he comes for tea. Its two years on now. A lovely thing her teacher did at the time when she was upset in school was to help her make a picture frame to put nan's photo on display in her room. A simple, brilliant idea! DD2 was a baby at the time but is now 3. Whenever we get helium balloons in restaurants they both happily release them outside to go to Nan.

LordLofty Sun 16-Oct-11 23:35:36

My husband died yesterday. We have 3 children and were honest with them throughout. They are coping very well and I think this it is because they were fully in the picture so there were no surprises.

KristinaM Sun 16-Oct-11 23:45:26

Im sorry for your loss lordlofty sad

Thzumbazombiewitch Mon 17-Oct-11 03:39:36

Oh Lordlofty, so sad to hear about your husband. It sounds like it was a while coming but that still doesn't really diminish the shock of the actual loss. Hope you have people around you to help out and look after you all. x

Growlithe Mon 17-Oct-11 06:03:03

So sorry Lordlofty x

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