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Do we leave my MIL who is dying of cancer alone for Christmas?

(101 Posts)
PTFsWife Thu 19-Dec-13 15:12:28

My MIL will turn 86 on Christmas day. She has terminal cancer (mouth). My SIL recently moved to Portugal and the plan for Christmas was for MIL, my DH, me and kids to fly together to Portugal so that we could celebrate what is probably going to be her last Christmas and birthday together.

We are due to fly out on Sunday. Today MIL rang and said that she is full of cold and there is no way she can manage to go to Portugal. I think it is more than this. I think she is scared of travelling, scared something might go wrong while she is out there, doesn't want to eat in front of other people as it's messy due to the growth in her mouth, her mouth is hurting her more than she will admit, she can only eat soft things like soup/boiled egg and generally doesn't want to 'be a burden'.

So I said that we will then all stay behind so that she is not alone. She can come to our house and we will have a quiet Christmas together. Her house isn't really suitable for us all to go there. She can eat what she can manage and alone if she would prefer not to eat in front of us, but at least she will have company.

She insists that she would rather be on her own in her own home and that we MUST go to Portugal without her. She will be deeply upset if we cancel our holiday for her. (It would be a £1k loss on flights but that seems completely irrelevant at this point. The kids will be disappointed though as they had been looking forward to going).

I am utterly torn. I asked her straight up whether she would really prefer to be alone or whether she was just saying that as she didn't want to put anyone else out, and she swears she would rather just be on her own.

But how can we leave her to celebrate her (most likely) last Christmas on her own with a tin of soup?? But if we stay, we risk upsetting her/making her feel guilty that we're 'ruining' our Christmas by not going and it appears to be going against her wishes.

I don't know what to do. What would you do?

Greenkit Sun 29-Dec-13 17:24:13

Op I hope you had a great Christmas making memories. We have had what will probably be BIL last Christmas with him as he has a brain tumour, I invited everyone to ours and it was brilliant.

Hooleywhipper Fri 20-Dec-13 22:17:32

I don't think for one minute you will regret your decision OP, Mil privileged to have fantastic DIL like you. Happy Christmas

everlong Fri 20-Dec-13 22:09:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mrswellyboot Fri 20-Dec-13 22:06:03

Great decision. Wishing you a lovely Christmas !!

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Fri 20-Dec-13 21:35:51

I too commented after page 3.
What a lovely thing to do OP, I hope you have a lovely time and make memories to cherish.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Fri 20-Dec-13 21:32:59

You can't go OP.
If anything happened you would never forgive yourself and nobody should be on their own at Christmas.
I know she said she doesn't want you to stay, but I'm sure that's because she doesn't want to be a burden.
I had what I knew would be the last Christmas with my Dad, and I cherish the memories OP.
You sound like a lovely dil, I hope my future dil is so caring.
Please don't go, love. You need to be at home.

MerryFuckingChristmas Fri 20-Dec-13 21:26:31

Well, I've just a bloody good cathartic cry after reading this thread

I thinkyou have done the right thing and I hope you all enjoy xmas as best as you can x

ChippingInLovesChristmasLights Fri 20-Dec-13 21:17:13

I'm sorry she has cancer - it's a bastard thing sad

I think you have made the right decision - staying in the country, inviting her but not demanding she comes to you and then popping up to see her for a short time on CD if she doesn't want to come & stay.

I totally understand how she feels and I would sooner be alone in my own home at Christmas than somewhere else (no matter how close the family or whatever) if I was feeling that ill. There's nothing like your own bed, your own comfy sofa, no one else to worry about or worry about upsetting - it's just more relaxing and really, that's what you need when you are 86 & ill.

Be careful how you phrase going at Easter wont you (I'm sure you will) but it just sounds a bit like you don't think she will be here by then so you can go then & stay for longer... perhaphs mention you have booked for her as well if she wants to go with you.

I bet the kids are now disappointed that they a) aren't going to Portugal and b) wont be getting their presents this weekend! fgrin

chocolatewine Fri 20-Dec-13 20:53:18

Good decision, you'll never regret it. I hope you all have a happy time and I'm sure your mother in law feels very loved. x

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Fri 20-Dec-13 18:13:24

Good decision. Let us know how the day pans out if you want too.

oldbaghere Fri 20-Dec-13 18:04:26

Think you've done the right thing. I'd sell my soul at this point to get my mums last Christmas with her but it won't happen the way I'd like it to.

GwendolineMaryLacey Fri 20-Dec-13 18:04:07

Good decision. I'm late to this but I couldn't go off and leave someone like that, no matter how much they insisted. Even to just pop in and then leave her in peace but she'll know that you're nearby if she needs or wants you and you'll enjoy your Christmas better for not worrying about her in a different country on her own.

cuggles Fri 20-Dec-13 18:00:40

You sound lovely Op and a great decision, wrapped up as something that suits you as well as giving her company..well done!

Slimchance Fri 20-Dec-13 13:46:26

Glad you were able to come to a decision PTFswife.

Hope you are all able to have as good a Christmas as possible in the circumstances.

ExcuseTypos Fri 20-Dec-13 13:00:49

So glad you've come to that decision. Hope you all have a good Christmas flowers

TheNumberfaker Fri 20-Dec-13 11:45:46

Well done. Good decision. Hope you get everything you need and that she feels up to spending time with you.

Kitttty Fri 20-Dec-13 11:44:22

OP - good luck - the best thing to do -- and a great example to your children on how we should support and cherish our elderly. Have a lovely Christmas - feel warm and good inside you deserve to. Hope that you are not in the same dilemma at Easter.....

SinisterSal Fri 20-Dec-13 11:39:16

I think you have made the right decision.

She is bound to be up and down emotionally so she could change her mind 20 times between now and Christmas. Having you all an hour away will be much better than a flight away, if she decides on Christmas Eve that she would love company and kids for an hour or two.

TheFirstToel Fri 20-Dec-13 11:36:53

Your poor MIL and how awful for everyone involved.

I would guess maybe she genuinely does want to be alone and not go through the stress of Christmas Day when she feels as she does - but you can still work with her to respect her wishes on the day. I think it is important that what you are doing is simply staying at hand so she knows you are there. That's probably the most caring thing you can offer her in this impossible situation. Also, if she has cancer and a bad cold, there's a chance she could take a serious turn for the worse and you need to be on call.

Is there any chance of a Macmillan nurse or similar being able to spend some time with her too, on Christmas day or around then? Maybe it would help not to be alone, but also not to be worrying about being a burden/not being able to fully take part.

hoppinghare Fri 20-Dec-13 11:24:19

Woops. I've just read some more posts and have seen you are staying. I hope it's a good christmas.

hoppinghare Fri 20-Dec-13 11:22:43

I would consider going. She is very old. Christmas day is probably not as big a deal to her as it is to your children. You could always celebrate christmas with her before you go or when you come back.

SoloXantiaClaws Fri 20-Dec-13 11:15:44

Oh crap! clicked last page instead of next! blush. Sorry OP. Good decision smile I hope you have as good a Christmas as you can and MIL too.

bumbumsmummy Fri 20-Dec-13 11:14:28

Family it's what Christmas is about what does your DH say its his mum ? Personally I wouldn't be able to go in good conscience it's her last one make it a good one

SoloXantiaClaws Fri 20-Dec-13 11:05:53

The last Christmas memories with MIL will mean much more than you can possibly imagine at this point.
My last memories and photo's of my Dad's last every occasion mean so much to me.

I couldn't possibly leave her in your position OP. It would guilt me forevermore and then some.
MIL is probably trying to be nice to you. But she probably doesn't even realise how she will feel alone on Christmas day.

Bowlersarm Fri 20-Dec-13 11:00:49

Perfect arrangements OP. It is the right thing to do IMO.

It must be disappointing to not be going away, but at least you have it to look forward to at Easter.

I hope your mil is up to having a visit on Christmas Day, but at least you are around if she needs/would like to see you.

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