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User Topic: Telling kids Grandma is dying
Member # 15162
Default  Posted: 4:57 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

My Mom was admitted to the hospital last Friday. She is 75 and was always in good health. Her parents lived to be 85 and 95.

There is a tumor on her colon. They did surgery yesterday to remove it, and couldn't. It was too big and had grown into the liver and other places. The surgeon wasn't too optimistic on chemo.

She is a great Grandma. She loves the kids, and they love her. They've visited her in the hospital, and know the surgery was yesterday. It ended up happening later in the evening. Dd was still awake when I got home, so she knows a little. Ds was asleep.

How do you tell young kids that their Grandma is dying? We don't know the full details yet, but it doesn't sound good.

My Dad passed away unexpectedly less than 17 months ago. He was 73.

Any help is appreciated. Prays and good thoughts are also welcome.

Thank you

FBH - 42
FWW - 43 (BrokenRoad)
2 kids 7&12

The people you do your life with shape the life you live

Posts: 37370 | Registered: Jun 2007 | From: Michigan
Member # 25395
Default  Posted: 8:01 AM, February 13th (Thursday)


I'm so sorry to hear about your mom and the unexpected passing of your father.

I don't have any personal experience with this from a parent's perspective. However, my grandfather had cancer and passed away when I was six and I remember it very well. It was a really sad time, but I never felt scared and I think that was because my parents were very honest with me about what was happening. I knew he was very sick, and that he was going to die soon. I could relate to death a little because of a family pet's death, so I knew what that meant. My parents never pretended that things were going to be okay, and so I was prepared - although heartbroken - when he died. It was really fast, he passed away within a few months of being diagnosed.

So while I don't remember the words my parents used or how they sat down and told me, I was capable of understanding and handling the truth and it made the experience easier. I also appreciate that I knew he was dying because I do remember those last visits with him very clearly and I knew that they were important - even at six.

I'm sorry I don't have much advice, just the perspective of being a child myself and knowing that I have always appreciated how open my parents were about it.

[This message edited by lost_in_toronto at 8:01 AM, February 13th (Thursday)]

Me: BS/39
Him: WS/37
DDay: August 23, 2009
Together 14 years.

Posts: 1677 | Registered: Sep 2009 | From: not toronto anymore
Member # 12041
Default  Posted: 8:39 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

(((((((wh5, BR and kids)))))))))

I always believe that honesty is the best policy with kids. I guess gentle, and careful honesty. I don't know that there is any other way to say it than to be direct and to comfort them and tell them as much as they can understand.
Maybe once you have the details and some time estimates?

Sending strength for this difficult time. I wish there was something concrete I could do to help you all

“We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.”... Anais Nin

Posts: 44942 | Registered: Sep 2006
Member # 13333
Default  Posted: 8:51 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

So sad. I am so sorry.

My neices & nephew were 4 & 5 when their dad died in a car accident. Telling them was the hardest thing any of us had to face.

Honest, age appropriate language. Your kids are a little older than they were, so their understanding will be better. These kids lost a cat just 6 months before their dad died. The cat got hit by a car. We used that analogy to help them understand the permanence of death.

My grandfather died when my dd was 3.5. She was very close to him and she was the sunshine of his life. I let her take the lead on what she wanted/needed. My ds was 5.5 and he didn't want anything to do with calling hours, saying goodbye or anything. My dd on the other hand needed to say good bye. So we took her to the funeral home, she kissed him, asked questions like "Will this box be locked?" and let her lead the convo along with the answers she needed.

Kind, gentle loving messages about death are what the kids needs.

Hugs to you all.

Indian wisdom says our lives are rivers. We are born somewhere small and quiet and we move toward a place we cannot see, but only imagine. From Tending Roses

Posts: 6548 | Registered: Jan 2007 | From: WNY
Member # 31528
Default  Posted: 8:52 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

((((((WH, BR, DD, DS))))))

You and BR are such wonderful, caring people. I know you will find a way to gently tell them. Maybe remind them that it's ok for them to cry and be mad. It's ok for mom and dad to cry, too. Maybe let them know that if they want to tell grandma how they feel and that she is loved, they can. Sending strength and hugs.

Posts: 35812 | Registered: Mar 2011
Deeply Scared
Member # 2
Default  Posted: 9:09 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

(((WH, BR & Kids)))

I'm so sorry

When my mom and dad sat my sister and myself down to tell us our dad had congestive heart failure, we were pretty young...6 & 8. I remember being very scared and nervous but my parents were calm and honest and gentle with their news.

I know you have a really solid bond with your kids so I think between you and BR approaching this as a family it will help them accept the news a little easier.

Just go slow and be honest.

Our thoughts are with you during such a difficult and delicate time.

"Don't give up, the beginning is always the hardest." My Mom:)

My tolerance for stupid shit is getting less and less.

Posts: 198239 | Registered: May 2002
Member # 25001
Default  Posted: 10:09 AM, February 13th (Thursday)


I'm so sorry to hear this.

I don't experience with this as far as a parent, but my aunt was like a second mother to me and my kids were close to her.

When she was in the hospital and we knew it wasn't looking good I was honest with my kids.

I told them "Auntie is sick. She has a non-cancerous tumor that was removed, but now there's other issues making her sick. The doctors said there isn't anything they can do at this point." Then I listened to the kids and answered any questions they had. When they asked if she was going to die I said "Yes. It looks like she may."

How is your mom in the hospital? Meaning is she awake? Can she communicate? It may be a good idea to have your kids spend as much time as they can with her now. Bring in books and coloring pages etc... so they can do as much as they can with her now. Just an idea.

Me - BS, 39 (I'm not old...I'm vintage)
Two Wonderful children - DS10, DD7
Married, for now... (4+ D-Day - listed in profile.)

Posts: 5854 | Registered: Jul 2009 | From: In the darkest depths of hell!
Member # 31094
Default  Posted: 10:33 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

I'm sorry.

Posts: 3419 | Registered: Feb 2011 | From: NWPA
Member # 18442
Default  Posted: 10:37 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

so sorry. I think being honest is good. say I have to talk to you about grandma... she is very ill and will not be able to live much longer so we need to go visit alot and make her feel happy cause we love her so much.

I just lost my dad so as I am typing this I am totally crying. Had I known I had days till my dad would die, we would had all spent time with him and talked alot. but he was killed.

get every chance you can to spend with her now. she probably has a month.

6/07 EX had several Emotional/sexual A
FALSE Reconciles. cheats again. D 5/09
2013- 10 month marriage &D to friend. he was a lyin, freeloadn biploar mess.
NOW? Living my life and loving it.

Posts: 691 | Registered: Mar 2008
Sad in AZ
Member # 24239
Default  Posted: 10:38 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

I'm so sorry I agree with the others--be age-appropriately honest. One of the most difficult experiences of my childhood was losing my grandfather. He had survived four heart attacks, so I didn't expect anything different when he had the fifth. He was in a coma, though, and they didn't tell us (my sister, cousins & I). We all walked to the store to buy him a get well card, but when we got home, we were told he'd died. It was devastating.

(((((wifehad5 and br)))))

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Posts: 20273 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Upstate NY
Member # 28622
Default  Posted: 11:46 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

((((wh5)))) ((((BR)))) (((whole family)))

Honest sharing of what is happening and may happen soon allows you all to grieve openly and together.

My deepest sympathies on the back to back blows.

Me: 44, independent, happy, despite co-parenting with a lower muppet
FT "Stretch" (and Skew!) ;)
DS 13 DS 10
S 5/2010
D 12/2012

Posts: 5859 | Registered: May 2010 | From: a better place
Member # 33226
Default  Posted: 11:46 AM, February 13th (Thursday)

(((((wh5, BR, kids))))) I'm so very sorry.

Do they understand what cancer is? Do they understand that some people recover from it, but others do not?

It may be a series of conversations is needed. Starting with the knowledge that grandma has cancer. That her cancer isn't operable. That medicines don't cure every cancer, and won't cure grandma's. Let them adjust to the new information and ask any questions they like, but follow their lead as far as what they're ready to hear and what they can process at any given point.

Holding all of you in my thoughts.

You can call me NIK

"If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment."
- Carlos Santana

Posts: 25700 | Registered: Aug 2011
Member # 31240
Default  Posted: 12:52 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

(((wh5, BR, kids, Grandma)))

I'm so sorry you have to face this. No advice, but my thoughts and best wishes are with you all.

fBH (me) - 70 (22 in my head), fWW (plainsong) - 65+, Married 45+, together since 1965
DDay - 12/2010
Recovered, not yet fully R'ed
I share my own experience because it's the only experience I know, not because I'm a good model.

Posts: 10341 | Registered: Feb 2011 | From: Chicago area
Member # 18442
Default  Posted: 2:11 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

i would not talk about the cancer at all. that can scare kids more.

6/07 EX had several Emotional/sexual A
FALSE Reconciles. cheats again. D 5/09
2013- 10 month marriage &D to friend. he was a lyin, freeloadn biploar mess.
NOW? Living my life and loving it.

Posts: 691 | Registered: Mar 2008
Exit Wounds
Member # 32811
Default  Posted: 2:27 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

Lots of prayers and good thoughts. I agree that the word "cancer" should not come up at all. I would say that Grandma (when she is passed on) has gone to join grandpa...

lots of prayers. I am so sorry!

Posts: 2486 | Registered: Jul 2011 | From: With my dad...and my dog...
Member # 15300
Default  Posted: 2:29 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

I'm so sorry, wh5. It's never easy, no matter how old they are.

I remember having the talk with my kids (4 and 5) when it looked as if my FIL would pass away from complications of diabetes. My then husband and I explained that when people get old, you can see that they get wrinkles and white hair and they maybe move more slowly and sometimes, like grandpa, they get very sick and have to be in the hospital. We explained that sometimes when this happens, people die, which means they go away forever. We were careful not to equate death with going to sleep because the kids had to go to sleep every night.

It's questionable how much kids that age really understand about the concept of death. Your children are older and should be able to grasp it, no problem. Tell them what you think is age-appropriate and then let them ask questions. You'll know what to say, wh5. Hugs.

Age: 64..ummmmmmm,, hell born in 1947. You figure it out!

"I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks

Posts: 7278 | Registered: Jul 2007 | From: Toronto, Canada
Member # 15300
Default  Posted: 2:34 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

Duplicate post

[This message edited by lynnm1947 at 2:35 PM, February 13th (Thursday)]

Age: 64..ummmmmmm,, hell born in 1947. You figure it out!

"I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks

Posts: 7278 | Registered: Jul 2007 | From: Toronto, Canada
Member # 31349
Default  Posted: 2:44 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

I don't have any advice, as death is still a super abstract concept for my little one. I would say that a lot of how a talk with them should go is dependent on their current awareness of such things. I know that their different ages mean different outlooks, but the eldest is surely going to set the reactionary example.

This has to be incredibly hard for you, losing both your parents in such a small window.

Did the doctors say what sort of a timeframe you may be working with? My grandfather had a tumor in his bladder, and when they discovered it they said he had about a year to live and didn't advise surgery or chemo. He lived for several more years and we made sure to make the most of our time with him.

I think that spending time with your mom is the most important thing right now. Making the most of what you are given - the kids will ask questions and you will give them delicate, honest answers, but getting to spend that time together is the most important thing.

Keeping you, BrokenRoad, and the kiddos in my prayers.


Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it. - François-Marie Arouet

Posts: 17791 | Registered: Feb 2011 | From: California
Member # 27176
Default  Posted: 2:58 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

((WH5, BR and family))

We went through this. I don't even remember what we told our kids, as awful as that sounds. I think we were honest with them, but I don't recall how we delivered the message.
My father had died 18 months earlier, my husband's mother (colon cancer) a year earlier, so I think we were still in a post trauma daze.

I can only offer my sympathy and prayers to your family.

BS:ME DDay: 7/18/09 Last of TT 7/11/10
MOW's EA/PA all were my "friends" but one

Posts: 2372 | Registered: Jan 2010
Member # 16024
Default  Posted: 3:10 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

Lots of good ideas here. I've typed out a few things and keep deleting because I just don't have the right words.

This is so tough. I'd just like to send support and hugs to you and BR and your family.

Take up your space (and do it well).

"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."

Posts: 37987 | Registered: Sep 2007
Member # 30369
Default  Posted: 3:38 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

My wife's mom was terminally ill for about 8 months before she passed away. Our son was four years old at the time. We were gently honest with him. We let him know that we weren't sure how long Grandma was going to be with us, but that we would visit her and try to make her as comfortable as possible in the meantime. I think it helped that he was part of the process. On bad days, I'd take him to the park and let him talk. In my experience, gentle honesty, and letting him have his own voice and his own feelings helped a lot.

You'll figure out what to do, and what is right for your kids.

I will have you all in my thoughts.

(((WH5, BR, Grandma, and Kiddos)))

Posts: 7485 | Registered: Dec 2010
Member # 12802
Default  Posted: 5:31 PM, February 13th (Thursday)

((BR, WH5, kids, Grandma))

We haven't had to have this talk with the kids yet... I know you'll handle it with love and caring, and stick together as a family through this.

From time to time, I do consider that I might be mad. Like any self-respecting lunatic, however, I am always quick to dismiss any doubts about my sanity. DK

Posts: 14861 | Registered: Nov 2006 | From: mercury's underboob
Member # 15162
Default  Posted: 4:04 AM, February 14th (Friday)

Thanks for the feedback everyone. WE all went to visit her last night. She's doing pretty well, and in good spirits all things considered

FBH - 42
FWW - 43 (BrokenRoad)
2 kids 7&12

The people you do your life with shape the life you live

Posts: 37370 | Registered: Jun 2007 | From: Michigan
Member # 8354
Default  Posted: 5:55 AM, February 14th (Friday)

My father passed away from colon cancer 16 months ago. He was 81. We knew it was terminal, but the end came a lot quicker than we expected. He had been seeking treatment for some months before we were told he wasn’t responding well enough and that he might have 4-6 months left. Three weeks later he passed away.

He told me that death wasn’t the worst outcome of life, but rather an inevitability. It’s what you have to show for your life and how you leave that counts. He felt content that he was the first to go – he left behind a well taken care of wife (my mother) and five happy and successful children. I guess your mom has similar thoughts.

Regarding the kids… I think Meta more or less nailed it. One thing I do suggest is to use direct and clear words. I once had to tell a 13 year old niece her mother only had a few hours left before her cancer would kill her (Yep – all the shitty jobs in this extended family are delegated to Bigger…). Turns out the deacon and the family counselor at the hospital had talked to her but always used phrases like “the long journey”, “the inevitable darkness”, “the deep sleep” and so on. Never the words “death”. So this 13 year old girl – in her sadness and shock – had masked out the finality of the situation and only had a few hours to make her goodbyes to her mother. She has since repeatedly thanked me for how direct I was.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

Posts: 5565 | Registered: Sep 2005
Member # 14866
Default  Posted: 7:20 AM, February 14th (Friday)

Sending prayers.


Think of the haters in your life as sandpaper; they’ll scratch you up time and time again but in the end you’re polished, smooth, and spotless..while they end up useless

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Posts: 52581 | Registered: Jun 2007 | From: Big Blue Nation
Member # 36883
Default  Posted: 9:10 AM, February 14th (Friday)

Wife - I know that this was all about how to tell the grand kids, but...

I just wanted to let you know that I am so sorry that you are also facing this loss.

(((Wifehad5 and family)))

Me: 31 MH
Him: 37 MH
New online find 6/19/14 - shit

Posts: 1767 | Registered: Sep 2012
Member # 36134
Default  Posted: 1:41 PM, February 14th (Friday)

((((((Wifehad5, BrokenRoad, and Kids)))))

Saying prayers and sending good thoughts your way.


I trust you is a better compliment than I love you, because you may not trust the person you love, but you can always love the person you trust. - Unknown
Relationships are like sharing a book, it doesn't work if you're not on the same page.

Posts: 5256 | Registered: Jul 2012 | From: Florida
Member # 21101
Default  Posted: 1:54 PM, February 14th (Friday)

((((WH5 BR and Kids))))

Iknow you have seen my pm, but wanted to tell you that you can be honest with the kids, and if you gloss over it, like the stupid Deacon, and Counselor at Bigger's hospital did the kids will be pissed that you didn't lay it out for them.

Bigger - Your a good man. Your experience was one of the things that used to make me nuts about the Pastoral care people when I worked ICU. I'm sorry but the "Long Journey" doesn't cut it when someone is actively dying. Someone has to have the balls to tell the truth, and all too often if falls to the nurse at the bedside.

((((and strength WH5, BR, and Family))))

Him: FWS
Kids: 15 & 17
Married for 22 years now, was 16 at the time. .
D-Day Sept 26 2008
Fully R'd, and Happy Happy Happy

Posts: 8691 | Registered: Oct 2008 | From: St. Louis
Topic Posts: 28