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Should you ever keep a death from an old person?

(17 Posts)
Cooroo Tue 06-Jan-15 22:46:01

My mum is 96, very frail, sometimes lucid but often confused about time of day, who she is with etc. Deaf, blind and unable to walk. Now her brother, last sibling, has died. They loved each other dearly, he would be brought to visit once a year or so and they sometimes talked on the phone. Do we tell her? My gut feeling is she has the right to know, but I don't think she will live many more months - if she understands this surely it will cause her unbearable grief? She has lost 2 children and a husband. Her DB was the last person on earth who knew her as a young woman.

Anyone kept news like this from someone? Is it ever justified?

yetanotherchangename Tue 06-Jan-15 22:48:28

I think it is justified not to tell her.

Hassled Tue 06-Jan-15 22:49:46

Does she ask about him at all? I'd struggle with actively lying, but see no issue with just not mentioning it. It must be really hard for you - I'm sorry.

kerstina Tue 06-Jan-15 22:54:33

I agree it seems kinder not to tell her unless she asks after him . Thinking about it a different way when we die I know it can be a comfort to think we will be reunited with our passed loved ones so if you do tell her when her time comes she will know they will be waiting for her .

Pico2 Tue 06-Jan-15 23:01:06

Do you think that if you tell her, she will remember? Or will you end up telling her again and again, each time as if she hasn't heard before?

avocadotoast Tue 06-Jan-15 23:05:06

We didn't tell my grandma that her brother had died, but she had Alzheimer's and wouldn't have understood.

It is a very difficult decision to make.

Cooroo Tue 06-Jan-15 23:05:49

She did ask someone to phone him on his birthday - which sadly was the day he died. But when there was no reply she didn't follow it up. So I suppose she could be distracted from wanting to make contact.

I don't think she truly believed in an after life. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable making those assurances. That makes it all the bleaker of course.

I'm Glad no one is dismissing it out of hand!

Cooroo Tue 06-Jan-15 23:09:02

Funnily her confusion is quite different from Alzheimer's (which dad had). More like a mental shrinking, memories lost, but a fairly good grasp of what everyone in the family is doing right now. So I think she would understand and probably remember.

nooddsocksforme Tue 06-Jan-15 23:15:28

if she was 46 you wouldnt even consider not telling her. how would you feel if someone you loved died and no-one told you about it. It may well be painful for her but people in this age group do sometimes have a different view of death. I understand that you are trying to protect her but what if she asks to speak to him again-either you have to lie or tell her then-and she would feel very betrayed by that. Please treat her as you would any other adult

SconeRhymesWithGone Tue 06-Jan-15 23:18:49

This is a difficult one, OP. I have been thinking about this myself; I haven't had to face it yet, but my mother is 92 and frail and I do worry about how to handle news like this if and when it arises. My concern would be that she might hear about it from someone else later and that might make it harder. I'm not sure what I would do, but you have my sympathies.

Cooroo Tue 06-Jan-15 23:19:30

nooddsocks I agree with you too! That's why I'm asking. My sisters and I are trying to work out what's best. Initial gut reaction was 'don't tell her' but then I thought 'no she has the right to know'. Now DSs are thinking 'don't tell'!

PoppySausage Tue 06-Jan-15 23:24:54

We kept the death of my Grandad's uncle from him when he was in hospital with pneumonia. We knew it would have hindered his recovery. Then his brother died too. We told him 2 weeks later when he was lucid and on the up. He understood and thanked us

Bakeoffcakes Tue 06-Jan-15 23:33:24

From what you've said, I personally wouldn't tell her at the moment. What is the point in causing her heartache when you say she may not have long herself?

GallicShrug Tue 06-Jan-15 23:34:30

My parents were upset when their respective siblings died - it made them the last surviving members of their generation, which is very sad of course. BUT ... at 96 you are very, very familiar with death. Almost everyone has gone already, and you know your own is imminent. Since you say she's not suffering dementia and you believe she'll understand, I feel it's more respectful to break it to her. I am sure you'll do it considerately.

Thinking about how fucked off I'd be if I found out my family concealed a sibling death from me, it would double the upset! And I'm not quite 96 yet ...

lostinindia Tue 06-Jan-15 23:42:43

You should tell her. She should have the opportunity to pay her last respects.

CMOTDibbler Wed 07-Jan-15 15:25:11

I think I would tell her if she is able to hold onto the information. I wouldn't tell my mum (for instance) as she would remember that she was upset, but not what about

Cooroo Thu 08-Jan-15 06:49:26

Thanks everyone for your input. At present it looks as if she won't be told. I'm glad you didn't all dismiss it out of hand. I'm not entirely happy with it but will go with family majority opinion!

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