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Grandfather dying, taking young children to say goodbye?

(7 Posts)
zazas Sun 19-Jun-16 20:29:30

My friend's DH's father is most likely at the end of his life. He is 95 and while has not been specifically ill lately, they were told today that he is now mostly unconscious and unlikely to live beyond this week. Not unexpected of course...

However before the latest update they have booked as a family to visit him next Sunday for 4 days - a considered trip as he lives in the Netherlands and they are UK based. They last visited in November last year and usually visit once a year, sometimes twice.

My friend rang me this morning to tell me what has happened and to discuss/ask my opinion, "If they should all go immediately to say their goodbyes?" It would mean a 6am flight tomorrow (3am leaving home) and an early return on Tuesday due to other commitments. The cost she mentioned was also an issue for them - approx £500 for flights and rental car etc

My thoughts were that since the children are young (4 and 8) and due to the advanced age of their grandfather and distance and therefore have not had a close relationship to their grandfather, that maybe it was more suitable for just her DH to go in order to say his 'goodbyes'. I also suggested if she wanted to go, then I was happy to have the children while she was away (very close family friend, kids with us often etc). Their last visit in November was very much based on 'saying goodbye'.

I also said that since they were also still planning on going next week, that that time would also be a time to say their 'goodbyes' - after all he could still be alive, or if not maybe for his funeral?

My friend however said that, "She felt that it was important for the children to do this."

I didn't really know what to say - obviously I am there to support the family and would support any decision she made but she did ask and I gave an opinion, although in fairness not one I have given much thought about before.

Just out of interest has anyone have any thoughts/experience about this sort of situation?

NewLife4Me Sun 19-Jun-16 20:36:49

Are there people about to look after the children there?
If your friend goes and sees how frail he is she might not take the children in to say goodbye.
My dc went to see their Grandad before he died, but one was only 3 and didn't understand much and the others were teens.
He was also conscious and completely with it.
I asked them what they wanted to do, they asked me questions about his appearance and illness and decided they wanted to go.
At 8 and 4 I don't know if I'd have suggested it, sorry, not much help.

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Sun 19-Jun-16 20:41:44

My DD was 8 when she lost her great grandmother, and she was very close to her. I gave her the choice,and she decided she wanted to say goodbye, and attend the funeral too. She was very glad that she went, she learnt so much about her from family at the wake, lovely anecdotes and stories and actually remembers it with fondness rather than sadness.

I would recommend your friend be frank with them about what it will be like and let them decide, though the 4 year old may be too little, I can't remember what DD was like at 4!

zazas Sun 19-Jun-16 20:42:19

Thanks for replying though! There are other family member (much older siblings) but none that the children know well but who my friend could leave them with for a few minutes to say her goodbyes I would guess...

Thingirlstuckinfatsuit Sun 19-Jun-16 20:42:57

My situation was different to your friend's, my father asked to see my young children (5 & 2) the day before he died of cancer. He was conscious and coherent throughout the visit. Although, he looked very different to the grandfather they knew - cancer is very cruel. My husband and I were worried the children would be scared, which would have been devastating to my father, but they hugged him and played and laughed together, it was lovely but very sad.

But my children did not know they were saying goodbye to their beloved grandfather, they just thought he was I'll. We would not have taken them to see him unconscious, nor would we have taken them to say goodbye. That was our decision, and your friend must make her own, all you can do is support and love her.

AGnu Sun 19-Jun-16 20:51:00

I've never quite forgiven my grandfather for not letting us visit before he died when I was 11. He lived on the other side of the country so we weren't close but he was still my grandpa.

zazas Sun 19-Jun-16 22:45:18

Thanks - yes I understand about the importance of saying goodbye. I guess I just thought given the circumstances (with the grandad being non responsive/the distance/cost/difficulty of travel and the fact that the children don't really know him) that it might have been acceptable in this case to leave the kids with me for 24 hours to make it easier for my friend and her DH. But of course fine either way - just didn't know if I was giving my friend wrong advice...

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