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DD doesn't want to know when my MIL dies, am I nuts not telling her immediately ?

(21 Posts)
chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 13:42:23

Things are a bit of a mess here. DD is 8 and starting a new school on Monday. My Mum & I are taking her & DS (younger) up to the new house at the weekend and DH is remaining here as he's working, we're going so she has a week at her new school before the holidays, then will be back for the rest of the summer holidays, we'll move up properly the end of August.

MIL is at the end of a very long fight against cancer, the decision has been made this morning to take away all fluids, medication etc as she has had a huge stroke and has basically gone already. She is in Spain and DD has only seen her a few times in her life, DS hasn't got a clue who she is.

DD knows that she is very ill but has specifically asked not to know when she dies. In normal circumstances I wouldn't entertain this, but she's very sensitive and has a huge amount on her plate with starting a new school.
DH will probably fly out for the funeral next week whilst we are away, so DD will be unaware that he has gone over. There will be a scattering of ashes over here but not for a bit, I'll be going to that but not to the funeral in Spain.

Do I listen to DD's request not to be told and let her know not immediately when it happens but at a time when she is more settled and I feel she is ready to know ? Or have I utterly and completely lost the plot over this, I feel I probably have, my Mum thinks we shouldn't tell her for a bit.

NAB3 Tue 10-Jul-07 13:46:41

Oh, I really feel for you. This must be an awful time for you all. I think in this case you should do what is best for your child as you know her best and not worry about doing the right thing or what anyone else thinks. I only told my 6 year old that my Nan died 2weeks ago as he only met her once at 20months and he wasn't ever really aware of her. It was 2 years ago that she actually died and I only told him because he asked.

bundle Tue 10-Jul-07 13:48:01

I would tell her. the other children at dd1's school were very supportive including saying prayers for my dad.

geekgirl Tue 10-Jul-07 13:57:26

oh what a difficult decision, ct I think you need to go with your gut feeling on this, like NAB3 said - I think she is old enough for you to respect her wishes.

Do you really think you'd be able to keep it from her though?

chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 14:03:46

Do you think so Bundle ? It will be next week bang in the middle of her first week we think, I just don't want her to have to deal with that as well as starting school and I feel it's quite a lot to put on her new school. She has dyspraxia and struggles a bit socially anyway and is already very anxious. I am so sorry for your loss.

If I mention Nanny to her to immediately looks anxious and reminds me I promised not to tell her. I know she needs to know and we will tell her, but I can't help feeling that I need to pick my time.

Nab3, thank you. DS will completely not get it at all as he just doesn't know her and he hasn't had any experience of death. Sorry about your Nan.

Blimey, I think I need alcohol and I don't drink anymore, this is all getting a bit surreal. I hope my sodding furniture has arrived where it should.

chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 14:07:22

Sorry Geekgirl, I didn't see your post. I think both DH and I feel she went on Friday when she had the stroke. I probably can hold it together and DH will be here, so she'll only speak to him on the phone. I reckon she will get a slight inkling but won't admit it to herself.

Poor DH, I want to be here when he hears but I don't think I can. And to top it all, my friend's DH is waiting to hear whether he can have the tumour on his kidney removed, if not he's got a year. They should know by now and I'm dreading going up to school later, she is understandably in bits and hasn't many friends here. She was here sobbing on the sofa when I took the call from my PIL about MIL's stroke.

What a shit week.

WendyWeber Tue 10-Jul-07 14:21:01

for you too, chocolateteapot. So sorry about your friend's DH too. It is a lot of crap happening at once.

I think with all the extra complications in your DD's life, I would go along with her wishes - at least let her get through this week (if you can manage it, though that might be hard), and next week in the new school, and maybe tell her after that when you have a small breathing space before your house move?

lljkk Tue 10-Jul-07 14:26:49

I would listen to her wishes and not tell her until she seems ready. She sounds like a mature child -- of whom you can be proud -- who knows how much she can and can't deal with.

Wisteria Tue 10-Jul-07 14:31:04

Have you asked her why she doesn't want to know? It just seems a strange request from a child unless she has experienced death already.

I hope your house move goes ok and your dd settles in quickly - it's a good idea for her to have a week by the way, my parents did that for us when we moved up from Cornwall and we settled in really quickly (I was also 8).

chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 14:31:49

Right, just spoken to DH again and we've decided that we are not going to tell her until the summer holidays . Thank you all, that has been hugely helpful and I do feel comfortable with not telling her just now.

I am practising being very very calm. No doubt there will be more panicked threads from me soon and I apologise in advance !

chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 14:34:54

She was completely devestated when her cat got run over after she had had him for a year and she's had to live through the death of one of her school friend's mothers. She said she will be just too upset to hear about MIL dying at the moment.

I am glad to hear you settled in quickly Wisteria. It seems much easier at the moment to say that we'll just start her in September but I do think the week and a bit will make a difference.

Wisteria Tue 10-Jul-07 14:37:39

Ah that makes more sense CT - my daughter struggles with death and it was because she'd seen so much devastation caused by it; she's petrified of people dying now, so go with your gut feeling - you're the only one who knows your dd well enough to make the decision. Don't listen to anyone else.

edam Tue 10-Jul-07 14:39:30

Agree you should respect her wishes. Seems very important to her and there's a lot of disruption and heartache in her life anyway, poor sausage, not worth adding any extra distress if it's at all avoidable.

chocolateteapot Tue 10-Jul-07 17:44:25

Coming back to this thread much calmer than I was earlier. Thank you very much for posting on what I know is not a pleasant topic. It has been a big help.

We are definitely not telling DD, she has wet herself again at school today several times, so am taking her to the doctors to check it's not an UTI. I guess there's a good chance that it is anxiety and I definitely don't want to add to it. On the face of things she is pretty chirpy and is very excited about doing sports day tomorrow.

The doctors have withdrawn everything apart from painkillers just over an hour ago, so we know that it will be by the end of the week at the latest. DH is packing whilst the children have tea and I've been checking out flights, we are going down the route of telling them he's gone to Ireland for a work meeting as he did this the other week. I am now going for an Oscar winning peformance of maintaining the appearance of a normal life !

NAB3 Tue 10-Jul-07 17:48:46

Hugs for you all.

bundle Wed 11-Jul-07 09:52:38

I'm really sorry chocolateteapot, it must be hard to cope with.

But yes, I still would tell her. In my experience the things my children imagine fill them with much more anxiety than when people talk to them honestly and they can be "openly" sad. I do realise you know your child best so obviously you need to decide what's best for all of you. She will however pick up on your grief and anxiety whether you tell her or not and for me, knowing what it is that's upsets you, would be a good approach.

Wishing you strength, xxx

snowleopard Wed 11-Jul-07 09:59:06

Reading the start of the thread I was going to ask if she's been through a hard time over other deaths and it turns out she has, so I think you're right to respect her wishes - as she knows what she's talking about IYSWIM. Also, I don't at all mean this to sound callous but in the circumstances, the actual date of MIL's passing will perhaps not be so significant as it might sometimes be - for example if it happened suddenly and she was physically nearby, when your DD would be bound to see its effects much more. I think if you look ahead to a good, calm time when you can tell her gently that MIL has died and you are going to scatter the ashes and would she like to help, and you are there to comfort her and talk to her anytime she wants, etc. that would be a really good way to help her deal with it. I think you're doing the right thing.

Sorry for your loss.

LilyRedWG Wed 11-Jul-07 10:04:28

Please listen to your DD - she knows what she can cope with by the sound of things.

I knew what I wanted at the age of eight, when my much loved Granny died. Unfortunately, no-one listened and I am still sad that I didn't get to see her in hospital before she died or go to her funeral. I begged for both of these things but was told that adults knew best - I still believe they didn't.

You may find she'll pick up on it anyway even though DH isn't there. It is an awful time for you and you have my sympathy.

pirategirl Wed 11-Jul-07 10:05:04

I think she wouldnt be able to cope with it tbh, she needs to be settled.

It seems she is well aware that her grandmother is very ill. I think she will ask you in her own time, if her grandmother has indeed passed away.

its very sad, and difficult for you all.

DumbledoresGirl Wed 11-Jul-07 10:05:23

I don't have experience of telling my children of a death of a near relative, but I do have experience of moving children from one school to another and I would back your decision not to tell dd about her grandmother until the holidays begin. It is stressful enough to be in a school with unfamiliar faces, especially as you said that she is a bit nervous about this. If she was at school with old friends it would be different as she might get comfort from them, but strangers, however nice they might be, won't be the same for her.

Also, when she hears the news, she may well want to be with her dad for a bit as it is his mother who will have died.

It is such a sad way to start the holidays, but I am sure she will cope better with the news when she is with all her family and in familiar surroundings than if you told her in the new home. It is not as if she will be missing out on the funeral is it as presumably she would not be going to Spain for that anyway.

Best of luck. And my sympathy to you and your dh at this time of loss.

chocolateteapot Wed 11-Jul-07 12:24:50

You lot are lovely, thank you so much

Having slept on it, I'm sticking by not telling her and it's lovely that most of you think I haven't completely lost the plot doing this !. Took her to the doctors and he's sending her sample off to check but from using dip sticks it doesn't look like a UTI. So my guess this is anxiety about the new school & MIL showing through. She then got nervous about doing sports day, so I have decided that she's having the whole day off (I have never ever done this before but feel these are exceptional circumstances) and she is having a lovely time with her little brother.

It's all much calmer here today now that the decision was made and we are just waiting. We both feel that really she passed away last Friday when she had the stroke so that helps a bit. I feel much more in control of everything, though very worried about my friend who is still waiting for news on her DH. But I'm standing back from that as much as I can as there's a limit to how much I can deal with and remain sane I think !

Thank you all again, it's been a huge help being able to talk this through.

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