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What should I tell 6yr old about Grandma with terminal cancer?

(6 Posts)
charlie9 Fri 05-Oct-12 22:38:32

My MIL has terminal cancer, she has been given 6 to 18 months with treatment. I don't know how much to tell ds. All the advice is that it is better to be honest, but I don't want him to be sad everytime we see her.

She lives a distance away, so we don't see her that regularly, although ds is close to her as she would come to stop for a week at a time. At the moment she wants to see ds, so we are travelling to see her, although he has picked up something is wrong.

VintageAxeWeldingPboredWarrior Sat 06-Oct-12 12:18:30

Could you and your mil help him to create a mil memory box?

You could say something along the lines of "grandma" the name he uses is poorly, the doctors are helping but it means she won't be around for long so we could build a box full of special things of hers you can keep to remember her by, iyswim.

It could be a place where he can write how he feels about it all too. I was 33 when my gran died of terminal cancer and I was scared and confused at times

Your mil could leave a letter for him too

VintageAxeWeldingPboredWarrior Sat 06-Oct-12 12:20:11

Or you could have a bad post it box for things he's worried about and wants to talk about and a special mil box to fill with good things?

onlyjoking9329 Sun 07-Oct-12 15:33:11

Sorry to hear that your MIL is terminal.
I agree with honesty and going at your child's pace.
It feels hard to get it right cos once you've told them something you can't unsay it.
There are some very good books on amazon, some with pictures and only a few words, I found that there were lots of books for after someone dies, but few in preparation.
Wins tons wish are good as are McMillian. There are often charity's for children, my three benefitted from this when their dad died.
Photos and videos are good to have and to prompt discussions.
It's hard to know when the right time to tell is. I started by saying their Dad had bad cells and the doctors were trying to help him, a few days later our DS asked what would happen if they couldn't make their Dad better? I was honest with them and said that he would die, now my three were much older but have ASD so things need explaining carefully and repeatedly. Use clear descriptions and best to avoid saying that MIL has gone to sleep, or that you've lost her. Younger children can be very literal and easily confused.
Take care.

charlie9 Thu 11-Oct-12 21:51:12

Thank you for your kind responses. I'll try the memory box and look for some books.

redwhiteandblueeyedsusan Fri 12-Oct-12 23:44:42

I am gradually introducing the idea to dd too. we have been to see mil in hospital. i have told her that grandma is poorly. I have yet to break it to herr that grandma is very poorly and will not get better. I have aleady had to do this once this year for my dad, her grandad, and break it to her that grandad had just died, but it is still difficult to tell her about grandma.

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