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Kids dealing with death?

Posted by on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:12 PM
  • 25 Replies
I know this has been brought up before, but i can not find posts. We found out friday that my mom has pancreatic cancer and has about 6 months to live.

We are making plans for urgent trips to see her.

I will be telling my boys (6 and 10) this weekend.

Any advice? Anything I can do to help them in this process?
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by on Jan. 31, 2016 at 5:12 PM
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by Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:31 PM
I think a lot depends on your child's personality, how close they were to the person, and your reaction. My mother in law died from cancer just before Christmas. Her one daughter's children went to the funeral and cried a lot. Her other daughter's child didn't go to the funeral because it was too upsetting. My kids went and happily played with each other, talked to people, and a couple even touched her body to see what it would feel like. They had no reaction at all, but even though we all live reasonably close to each other my MIL saw the other grandkids a lot more often and although she was not outright mean to my kids they were definitely treated differently. I am sorry about your mom. I hope your family feels peace at this difficult time.
by Bronze Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:37 PM

The linked attached are for books explaining death to children. 

by Ruby Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:39 PM

I'm sorry about your mom.

Be honest, but keep things on their level. For the 6 y/o, I'd go with something like, "Sometimes people get very, very sick and even though the doctors try really hard, they can't make them better."

Part of how you, and they, handle it also depends on your religious views. I've told mine when younger what I said above, plus that sometimes God decides it's better for the person to go to heaven if the doctors can't do anything to make them better and keep them from hurting a lot.

by Bronze Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:43 PM
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Let me tell you what my 3rd grader's teacher told me...don't tell them the timeline of 6 months.  We were told in October that my mom has "maybe a year."  Her teacher said that if I tell them the same, they'll wonder if today is the last time they'll see grandma, talk to grandma, etc.  And if she doesn't make it that full year, they'll be mad, saying "but you told me a year."  And if she makes it beyond the year, they'll think she'll live forever.  

If they're close to grandma, get one of those things where you can make a mold of her hand, that way, they can always hold her hand.  My 12 year old is having a horrible time dealing with her being sick, she knows she probably won't live to see her hit high school, but that's all.  She's been seeing her school counselor, who gave her a kit to make a mold of my mom's hand.  We'll do that this week.  

I am so sorry that you are going through this.  Big hugs to you and your family, mama.

by Mindy on Jan. 31, 2016 at 6:50 PM
My adopted mom just passed in July from a reoccurrence of breast cancer.
I have a 10 and 4 year old who were extremely close to her .
At first they told us 6 months. Then a week later she was moved to Hospice where she spent 6 days until she passed.
My advice would to be honest. The same as a pp said. Let them know that the Drs did every thing they could, but sometimes a person gets too sick.
Although, the first time my 4 year old got sick after, she thought she was going to die.. It was tough. I explained there are different kinds of sicknesses and colds and flus go away, but cancer is harder to manage.
Hospice told me not to say "she going to sleep" or something like That, because they would expect her to wake up.
My 4. Year old still has questions and thinks that God can bring her back.
You have to stand firm in your answers.

I am so very sorry for what you and your family are enduring.
I will be praying for strength and peace for you all!
by Gwen on Jan. 31, 2016 at 8:24 PM

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. (((Hugs)))

by Gold Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 10:57 PM
Thank you for the advice and the ideas. We are heading to the states in the next couple of weeks. We found out a couple of days ago. I will look into a mold too. I was thinking a talking picture frame with a picture of her with each grandkid. I could add mold to that idea. I have a week before my family comes.
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by on Feb. 1, 2016 at 1:20 AM
I am sorry. Be honest with your kids and then take your cues from how they act. Everyone processes and deals with death differently, so don't be surprised if they don't respond as you would expect.
by Platinum Member on Feb. 1, 2016 at 8:18 AM

I'm so sorry about your mom. :(

I've dealt with this, my stepmom was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2010. My kids were told that Nana had cancer, and I can't remember how we explained it, but we didn't use the word sick, because kids will hear sick and think a cold, and then they'll flip out the next time they get a cold. When she visited they knew that they had to wash their hands really well and more often, because normal germs could make her worse. When she died in May 2011, my sister and I were the ones to tell them (DH was deployed) we were pretty matter of fact about it, Nana died, not we lost her, or she went away.  Told them the it's okay to be sad, it's okay to cry, it's okay to be mad, basically any way you feel about this is okay, and let them process their grief how they need to.

My kids were 5 1/2 & 8 when she died, and they were both very close to Nana. My oldest cried initially, my youngest never really did, but she's always been pretty stoic. Now almost 5 years later they don't bring her up anymore. It's like Nana was someone they saw, and now they don't anymore.

Again, I am so very sorry.

by Emerald Member on Feb. 1, 2016 at 8:37 AM

So sorry.

We've always been very honest with our boys and tried to keep the explainations in terms that they can understand.  I have relied heavily on religion to help explain death, so that is always a possibility.

Also keep in mind that not everyone grieves in the same way.  So don't think that there is something wrong if they don't seem upset or cry.  Just take it one day at a time and one question at a time.

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