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<p>My MIL has lung cancer that has metastisized to her spine. She moved to a palliative care home a few months ago and DD has visited her a number of times there. She hasn't asked about why her grandmother lives there now, but she did ask DH when her nan would be better and  be able to walk again instead of using a wheelchair and DH told her that she won't get better but he didn't elaborate. DD is a pretty insightful kid and at this point I feel like she's probably wondering what is going on and we haven't said much because we worry about saying something too soon and having DD obsess over her GM dying, but on the other hand if we wait too long she will be taken by surprise if she dies before she knew that she was going to. I feel like I have a good grasp on what to say to DD, but it's the timing I'm a little unsure about, is it better to tell her as close to when we think her GM may die or is it better for her to have lots of time to process it before it happens? I'm also concerned if we tell her and she mentions it to DH's family or GM herself, that would not go over very well, they're dealing with it by not dealing with it, if you know what I mean, we all have to deal with these things in our own way and I guess it's common not to discuss the fact that she's dying, I don't have much experience with this, I just want to help my DD process it in the best way possible. Thanks for any insights you can share.</p>
 

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<p>I'm really sorry to hear about your MIL.  My step-MIL died of lymphoma in 2008, and things went so quickly I had a hard time processing it myself.  My DD was only two at the time, so she didn't grasp a lot of what was going on. </p>
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<p>My advice would be to go with the "flow" of the family.  If your family is ignoring her condition, and it would make MIL upset if your DD talked about her death to her, then I might wait a bit to tell her.  There is so much uncertainty around something like terminal illness, and you don't know exactly how much time she may have.  Does DD ask any specific questions?  I would be as honest as possible answering her questions, but I wouldn't sit her down and have "the talk" if she isn't asking questions that make you certain she knows what is going on. </p>
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<p>In an ideal world, a conversation with her involving grandma may be the best route, if MIL is at a good place with it.  I think there will come a time that you know she needs to know.  It sounds like you might not be quite there yet, but maybe soon.  I'm very sorry your family, especially your DD, have to deal with this <span><img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif">. </span></p>
 

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<p>I agree, one good way to deal with this is to answer only the questions she asks.  Some comments, while they aren't worded as questions, should be answered, and that's when you use your adult intuition to help her.  And I agree with this, also:</p>
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<div>If your family is ignoring her condition, and it would make MIL upset if your DD talked about her death to her, then I might wait a bit to tell her.</div>
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<p>Part of what you might be wanting is to smooth the way for your daughter as much as possible so she doesn't feel pain. You're right to approach this thoughtfully and carefully with her, but there is no way to avoid pain.  And that wouldn't be good for her.  Pain and sadness are normal parts of life.  Acknowledging and accepting that you're terribly sad that someone you love is dying is so very valuable. </p>
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<p>But it also sounds as though this message would be even more helpful for your dh, eventually.  Hopefully you can make him aware that you provide a safe place to grieve, that whatever he's thinking and feeling is 'right' and OK.</p>
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<p>I'm so sorry you guys are experiencing this.  :hug</p>
 

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<p>I'm sorry to hear about your MIL!</p>
<p>...don't have feedback on when it's best to talk to your DD but I can recommend this book when the time comes to discuss it:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FLifetimes-beautiful-explain-death-children%2Fdp%2F0553340239" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Lifetimes-beautiful-explain-death-children/dp/0553340239</a></p>
<p>Sending good vibes your way.</p>
 

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<p>dont offer. bring it up when dd asks. </p>
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<p>you will be surprised at what children can handle. you cannot avoid the obsessing if that is what she might end up doing. remember that's her way of processing it. </p>
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<p>it is 'wonderful' that she is watching and a part of the process of dying. it really 'does' something to them. dont quite know how to put it. it definitely gives them a different perspective in life. my ex didnt experience death till he was in his 30s and he really had a hard time with it. </p>
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<p>dd helped me take care of her dying gma and gpa at 4 till they died when she was 5. she was holding their hand as they passed. she read to them while alive adn while dead while we waited for the hearse to arrive. it was the best gift they could give her. it so made her aware of needs and it was soo touching for my xinlaws. they could only handle a little bit of her but they loved her visits, esp. when she brought over her doll for gma because every girl should have a doll :)</p>
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<p>it took dd two years to 'get over' their death. it took her two years to stop crying at anything that reminded her of them. but being there and helping them really helped her with her grieving process. and it has enriched our lives because she now celebrates dia del muerto. </p>
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<p>one more thing. be sure of where you stand yourself. its perfectly all right to say you dont know. my answers to my dd included 'i dont know' but i know different faiths have these different views. however before we started taking care of her gparents she had already gone thru the death questions. </p>
 

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<p>Im really sorry to hear about your MIL.</p>
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<p>Coming at this from a different angle, I remember my first experience with death. I was 4 years old and I knew my great Aunt Emmy was very sick. ( I now know that she too, had lung cancer and there were some very graphic memories of watching my family care for her as she was dying at home). No one ever explained to me that she was going to die. I remember when my parents had me get dressed for the funeral and my father was trying to explain it to me. I felt really betrayed and lied to. In my mind, someone being "sick" meant that they would get well. Everyone I had ever seen that was sick and gotten well. I was pretty upset about it, and very sad that I didnt get to tell her goodbye.<em> </em> I dont have a child of my own that is old enough to have to deal with death, but I plan to be pretty direct and let them know in a "they wont be suffering anymore" kind of way. Hope that helps :). Again, Im sorry your family is going through this.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #7
<p><br><br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Adaline'sMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1279356/seeking-advice-for-when-to-tell-my-4-yo-her-grandmother-is-terminally-ill#post_16046035"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-right:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Im really sorry to hear about your MIL.</p>
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<p>No one ever explained to me that she was going to die. I remember when my parents had me get dressed for the funeral and my father was trying to explain it to me. I felt really betrayed and lied to. In my mind, someone being "sick" meant that they would get well. Everyone I had ever seen that was sick and gotten well. I was pretty upset about it, and very sad that I didnt get to tell her goodbye.<em> </em></p>
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<p>This is my main concern with DD, she talks all the time about her grandfathers who both passed before her birth, and how she never saw them or got to say goodbye and these are deaths that happened years before and she still feels the loss. So yes, I think we need to be upfront because I could see how saying she's sick won't make my DD come to the conclusion that it means she'll die and so the questions may not come even though she would want to know, y'know? And, unfortunately, today DH got the news that blood tests taken this morning show that her blood is full of toxins and the doctor indicated that things may go fast now. She's been a bit off for a few days, sleeping a lot and general confusion. DH is going to see her tomorrow (we live in another city) and we plan to try to explain things to DD tonight, to prepare her, and ask if she wants to go with her dad tomorrow to see her GM (not sure I can go, I'm 37 weeks pregnant and it's a bit of a drive). But I am really not sure about the "saying goodbye" part of it, I do really think it would unnerve his family to hear my DD saying goodbye, perhaps it's better to explain to DD that she can say goodbye when her GM has passed and that she will hear her? Or then again, maybe it's best to let DD do what she needs to do and the family can just deal? Yes I am definitely interested in sparing her pain but I also know there's nothing I can do to protect her from it and I know it's normal and healthy to mourn and I would never lie to her about the situation. And since yesterday, things have gotten to the point where it's not a question of when we should tell her, we have to tell her now. Thanks so much for your sympathies, they mean a lot to me. Of course things are compounded by the fact that our second child is due in early December and now DH's mother probably won't live to see him...<span><img alt="greensad.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="width:15px;height:15px;"></span><br><br>
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<p>The aforementioned "Lifetimes" is a straightforward book - it explains that different creatures have different lifetimes - I found that they actually give a pretty young death age for people - I think it was 60 to 70 years and that is their lifetime...  Other than that I like it.</p>
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<p>Another book we have is <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FGentle-Willow-Story-Children-About%2Fdp%2F1591470722%2Fref%3Dpd_sim_b_4" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">Gentle Willow</a>.  It talks about progressive disease and death, but in a nice, non-scary way.  Might be a very good discussion book to read with your DD. </p>
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<p>Tjej</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #9
<p>Thank you. We went to see MIL Tuesday and explained things to DD as best we could (I started off by referring to our old conversations about what happens when ppl are old and get sick, and she said "I know nanny's going to die soon" so I guess she knew more than we thought, as kids usually do. She took it really well and was amazing with her GM, kissing her and telling her she loves her and she didn't seem disturbed about her GM being out of touch with reality. She wasn't freaked out at all. That kid amazes me, at her age I would have been really disturbed but she was calm and when her GM became agitated, she would go over to her and offer her one of her stuffed animals. We'll keep talking about it, but she really seemed to understand the situation, asked a few questions and was very calm.</p>
 

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<p>I went through this with my 4yo DS when my Dad passed in March.  It was lung cancer that metastasized everywhere.  He went downhill fast. </p>
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<p>I told DS that Grandpa was very sick and he wasn't going to get better.  My Dad was still processing that fact himself and was really having a hard time accepting that he was not going to live through it.  I think it was maybe a week or two before his death that he was ready to accept it and deal with my DS (he is the oldest grandchild and they were very close). </p>
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<p>Their last encounter was planned ahead of time.  DS had been kept away for about a month because my Dad was in such poor health and we were worried about germs.  Once we realized that possible germs weren't going to make much difference, my Dad was already bedridden and on constant oxygen.   DS took one look at the Grandpa who had been running and playing with him a month before and was really shocked.  He kind of paused in the doorway and my Dad noticed and started to cry.  I had tried to prepare DS, but it was still a shock to him.  He did warm up pretty quickly and ended up crawling in bed with my Dad and chatting away.  It was really hard to do this without breaking down, but it was something we had to do for DS! </p>
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<p>I never told DS that Grandpa was going to die.  I told him when Grandpa was gone, but he didn't really understand.  He still talks about Grandpa like he is alive and I have to remind him that Grandpa is gone.  It's slowly tapering off.</p>
 
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