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Life-limiting illness

not sure if 8yr old dd quite understands how seriously ill her dgm is...

13 replies

justonemorethread · 15/05/2015 07:10

Wondering if anyone had advice. My mum has advanced cancer and I fear may be told soon that there is nothing else they can do.
My dds are close to her, eespecially dd1.
She asks why granny has been ill for so long. I told her recently that it is called cancer and she knows it is a Bad Thing.
Yesterday saying goodbye to dum she asked why did she get cancer, and my mum teared up.
We live abroad and I don't know how my mum will be when we come back in the summer.
Do I need to prepare dd further? As soon as we said goodbye she moved on to the rest of the day as of nothing happened.
Maybe she is too young to be able to process this further at the moment? She's not quite 8 yet.

OP posts:
justonemorethread · 15/05/2015 07:11

Mum, not dum

OP posts:
addictedtosugar · 15/05/2015 08:46

I'm sorry to hear about your Mum.
If it was me, I'd just keep talking to your daughter, let her hear the ups and downs of her Granny's illness, and answer her questions honestly.
BUT my kids aren't 8 yet. I have, however, answered honestly about the death of my Brother (before they were born), and they seem pretty accepting. But it must be much easier to accept the loss of someone you have never met.

littlejessie · 15/05/2015 08:56

We recently lost a relative we were very close to at the age of 53, from cancer.

I prepared my DD (7.5) in stages, reiterating that she was very ill, she helped me cook for the family and she eventually asked what would happen if she never got better. Not an easy conversation to have, but I explained as gently as I could that sometimes people become too ill to fight off the cause of their illness, and sometimes people might die from it. Nothing too specific but I think it did give her some time to prepare for what ultimately happened.

littlejessie · 15/05/2015 08:57

I agree that lots of talking about your mum and how she is doing will keep the door open for your dd to be able to ask if there are any questions. Flowers for you all OP.

DesperatelySeekingSanity · 15/05/2015 09:02

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Christelle2207 · 15/05/2015 09:11

Sorry to hear about your DM. My clearest early memory is of my dad telling me my dgm had died, and the aftermath. It was very sudden so I wasn't prepared in any way. I was 6.

Anyway I did "get" it, I remember asking lots of questions, especially about heaven etc. I think my parents' honesty helped a lot.

juneau · 15/05/2015 09:14

When we lost a family member at the end of 2013 my DS1 was almost six. When it became clear that the end was near I talked to him about it to prepare him, because although DC process death completely differently and much more matter-of-factly than adults, they do need to be prepared IMO.

We talked about when people get very old (or very ill), and how their bodies can't keep going and how, at some point soon, X wouldn't be around any more. I kept it quite light and my own emotions under control so he could ask questions. We'd had a few pets in the family die, so death was something we'd broached before. Personally, I don't like to tell DC that so-and-so has 'gone to heaven', because I think its too abstract and perhaps gives the impression that the person isn't dead at all, merely living somewhere else, which could be very confusing for a DC. But then I'm not religious!

juneau · 15/05/2015 09:15
jeee · 15/05/2015 09:22

My dc were 5, 6 and 7 when my sister, who was very close to them, died. She was on the transplant list, and they understood that if she didn't get a new organ she would die. We didn't hide this, but didn't emphasise how unlikely it was that the transplant would happen (there were complicating factors which meant that my sister was very unlikely to have the transplant). When she was taken off the list at the end of her life we took them to see her, and they were able to say goodbye - with the support of a lot of haribos! I think the fact that we'd been honest with them all along really helped.

I think that your dd will understand - just keep talking to her truthfully in age appropriate language.

And look after yourself, OP. You need support - and it's easy to fall into a situation where you're supporting your mother and your daughter, and forget about yourself Flowers.

justonemorethread · 15/05/2015 11:36

Thank you all so much for your replies. We are flying out this evening and I'm locking up my parents' big emtpty house ( they are not here at the moment - complicated to explain!) And my heart feels so heavy. Sounds like you have all been through similar so I'm sure you understand. I wish icould just move back here and be here.
I wish none of this ever happened, to anyone.
I'm here crying and there is no one in this city that I know anymore. It' s so great hearing other voices, even if just on mumsnet. Thank you.

OP posts:
RiskManagement · 15/05/2015 11:50

My DGF died from cancer when I was 9yo. He went home to die and I really believed that he must be getting better as he was allowed to leave hospital . No-one told me differently. When we arrived (too late) no-one told me he'd died. Mum and Dad went in to see DGM and the body and an Aunt, who assumed I already knew put her foot in it!

That said, I don't remember it as particularly traumatic. I was very sad but he was old and old people die. That sounds very harsh as an adult, but as a child it seemed reasonable to me. Your DD will be fine. Make sure you take care of yourself.

MagentaVitus · 15/05/2015 11:55

Don't do what my mum did and lie and tell me that my grandad didn't have cancer. When he died of lung cancer, my trust in her was shot for nearly a decade.

Pleasepassthewine · 15/05/2015 16:57

My mum died from cancer when my DS was a baby.

He's 10 now and DD is 6. Obviously they have no memory of her. I've told them that nanny had cancer which is a nasty illness. I've told them that sometimes the doctors have medicine that can make people with cancer better but sometimes they don't have any medicine that can help. I've told them that we can help ourselves by eating well and not smoking or drinking alcohol (obviously meant for when they are old enough). but then I told them that sometimes cancer is just bad luck.

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