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Is ignorance bliss?

(10 Posts)
mummydoit Wed 15-Aug-07 19:36:09

If someone close to you had a serious illness and the probability was that their life expectancy was less than five years, possibly less, would you want to know? I was in this situation with my Dad five years ago. He was given six months to live and my Mum hid the fact from us. As it turned out, he is still with us (and I hope will be for a lot longer) but I would rather my Mum had been honest from the start. I'd Googled his illness anyway and knew that life expectancy was not good. I'm now in the situation from the other side as my MIL does not realise how serious my DH's illness is. She is convinced he is going to recover fully. I really don't want to tell her the truth - she's an old lady with health problems of her own - but then remember how angry I was with my mum for hiding the facts from me. What would you do?

sleepfinder Wed 15-Aug-07 19:57:05

To be honest, it does sound under the circumstances like you need to protect your MIL. Losing a parent is sadly part of the natural order of things, losing a child is not.
I hope your DH is coping well and that he does make a recovery, all good wishes to you.

Nat1H Wed 15-Aug-07 21:27:33

Are there things she would like to do with him before he passes away. (sounds very morbid I know). Will he die suddenly or slowly? I only ask, because my DH brother was killed in an accident. It was very sudden and my FIL and MIL have NEVER come to terms with it. I'm not saying that you can ever come to terms with losing a child, but the suddenness of it did not help. You don't say what is wrong with DH, so my advice is probably crap! I think I would want to know - then I could make the most of the time I had left with him.
Hope this helps.

LilyLoo Wed 15-Aug-07 21:30:13

i guess it depends on his illness and how long his life expectancy. If she is ill herelf it may be better to keep it from her.

mummydoit Thu 16-Aug-07 07:47:46

He has cancer. Grade 4 tumour in the stomach/oesophagus plus secondary on the liver. Not operable, unfortunately. His oncologist talked about chemo and radiotherapy improving his quality of life and extending it but didn't give us any timescale. However, I know from when Dad was diagnosed (same cancer, ironically) that five years is pretty much the maximum for this type of cancer and many patients don't survive beyond the first year. I don't want to upset her unnecessarily if he does well and has years ahead of him but then we don't see her often (because of distance) and I'm sure she'd make more effort to see him more if she knew the possibilities. I really am in two minds about this.

RubyRioja Thu 16-Aug-07 08:00:40

Hi Mummy do it.

My experience is not competley similar, but my Mum had the same type of cancer as your DH. I attended all her medical appointments with her and nursed her at home. I visited her in ICU for 7 weeks, cared for her at home, I was told when her treatment changed from treating to managing and I went with her to the hospice and I was still shocked when she died.

I think what I mean is that even though I knew, I did not really 'know'. I think for me it was easier to carry on caring (I was pregnant at the time) just to live in the day, rather than thinking too far ahead. Maybe your MIL knows, but does not externalise her understanding? I think we can also remain ruthlessly upbeat for our loved ones.

I know that becuase my Mum and I had a good relationship, there was no 'unfinished business' as it were - no revelations or apologies that needed to be made. I could accept her loss when it happened rather than beat myself up over things I should have done or said.

ONe thing I do notice is that I focussed on looking after others in the family as I was scared that if I stopped and looked at myself I might go to pieces. Are you getting help and support? Needed more than is available I know. We did find the chemo (esp tablet form at home), made symptoms much more manageable.
Best wishes

FoghornLeghorn Thu 16-Aug-07 08:04:24

No advice but so sorry to hear about your DH

honeybunny Thu 16-Aug-07 08:06:56

If I was his mum, I think I'd want to know, but how old is old and what health issues for your MIL? Perhaps its possible to make her more aware of teh serious nature of his illness, but skate around time scales. What does dh want?

mummydoit Thu 16-Aug-07 08:19:31

Ruby, thanks for sharing your experience. You are right about it being easier to live in the day. I'm focussing on the practical aspects of taking care of DH and the DCs and trying not to think of future possibilities too much.

Honeybunny, MIL is in her seventies and waiting for a hip and knee replacement so she's not mobile. She's dependent on my BIL to bring her to see us and that only happens once or twice a year. We go to them as often as we can but it's difficult now. I'm not sure if telling her would make it worse as she'd probably want to see him more but, as I say, is dependent on others.

On the whole, I think I'll leave it for now and think again if and when DH's condition gets worse. And just hope it's the right thing to do.

RubyRioja Thu 16-Aug-07 08:35:46

Just a thought, but maybe you could mention to BIL how important this visits are, so he gives them the priority they deserve, though I daresay he knows this.

Take care

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