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Toddlers & Preschoolers Toddlers & Preschoolers

When?

Posted by on May. 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM
  • 8 Replies
So last March my older sister (30) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. My 2 older kids (4.5 & 3) know she's very sick. Today we found out that chemo won't help her, only make her sicker. She spent 6 weeks in the hospital and about 3 weeks ago was able to be home. Granted she has an IV pole and tubes sticking out of her stomach. She's not getting any better obviously. My DH and I are having an extremely hard time with this because they aren't just family, they are our best friends. We understand that she doesn't have much time left. So my question is, when should we try and explain it to our kids? Our youngest is only 16 months and won't understand, I'm not sure about our 3 yo, but our 4.5 yo understands a lot. I'm scared but I feel they need to know that they'll lose their aunt at some point in the near future. Our family (outside) cat has been lost since March and I still haven't had the heart to tell them she's gone. Help!!!
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by on May. 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM
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corrinacs
by on May. 8, 2012 at 4:38 PM
1 mom liked this

I am so sorry you are going through this!  I am sure its unimaginabaly painful!

Be as honest and open (on thier level) as you possibly can.  I think hiding this from them will only bite you in the hiney later on when you struggle to explain it to them.  But they will see you greive (if they haven't already) and it will help them cope with the loss, and with your emotions, if you let them in on the process.  Kids are very loving and more understanding than you think.

Wendsdy
by Silver Member on May. 8, 2012 at 5:02 PM
1 mom liked this

Both my Parents had cancer for most of my life. My Mom passed away a few years ago. My Dad has been cancer free 35+ years.  I can only tell you what my Mom used to tell people. She worked at a preschool and was very careful on how to word things with kids. I know I was absolutely scarred by hearing certain things I was not ready to know. My Mom learned more on how to handle things as we got older.  The one bit of advice that I do remember my Mom saying is when you are talking to kids about cancer and things like that are happening with your sister, ALWAYS use the word "disease" instead of "sick or sickness" That is because from that point on, when your kid gets "sick" they will flip out thinking they are going to die. Just be careful not to use the word sick. Does that make sense? I hope I'm explaining this right. Sorry I don't have more advice than that but I know that my Mom always said that and it made sense.  I'm so sorry for what you and your family are going through. 

Whitney15
by on May. 8, 2012 at 5:07 PM
They are lots of books about death that are geared towards children. With my 4.5 year old, I've always ven open about death because almost every male figure in his life is in the army. Lucky for us, he was able to experience it when our dog died. We are religious, so we also talked a lot about heaven.
My advice would be to be open and honest, but at a level that they will understand. Good luck, and I'm so sorry your family is going through this.
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Whitney15
by on May. 8, 2012 at 5:09 PM
I just read about your cat. I would tell them about it now so they can learn how to cope with death in a smaller form than a person.

Quoting JDM31707:

So last March my older sister (30) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. My 2 older kids (4.5 & 3) know she's very sick. Today we found out that chemo won't help her, only make her sicker. She spent 6 weeks in the hospital and about 3 weeks ago was able to be home. Granted she has an IV pole and tubes sticking out of her stomach. She's not getting any better obviously. My DH and I are having an extremely hard time with this because they aren't just family, they are our best friends. We understand that she doesn't have much time left. So my question is, when should we try and explain it to our kids? Our youngest is only 16 months and won't understand, I'm not sure about our 3 yo, but our 4.5 yo understands a lot. I'm scared but I feel they need to know that they'll lose their aunt at some point in the near future. Our family (outside) cat has been lost since March and I still haven't had the heart to tell them she's gone. Help!!!
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ciao_bella
by on May. 8, 2012 at 5:15 PM
I'm so sorry :/ we lost my aunt to cancer in January which was quite a shock

For her last 2 months she was in the hospital in a coma so I spent alot of time there....I didn't really go into details just that mommy has to go visit aunt mil bc she's real sick.....they drew pictures and cards almost everyday

Part of me didn't share much w them bc I still had a glimmer of hope that she would wake up so coming home to my kids who were so "hopeful" gave me hope in a sense

When she passed my 4 year old really understood and my 2.5 not so much but we talk about her everyday and send her balloons every chance we get and often visit the cemetery to bring flowers. We talk to her every chance we get and I let them know she's watching them and can see them.

We all were very close.

I'm so incredibly sorry and im in tears just thinking of it all. No one should have to go through this :/

Praying for your family and for a miracle!!!! Xoxo
ciao_bella
by on May. 8, 2012 at 5:18 PM
Also I should add once she passed I didn't hide much from them at all.... I still cry a lot and they do see from time to time

My 4 year old even came to one of the wakes, granted it was filled with hundreds of ppl it was more of a party for her but she understood this was her last time to say goodbye.
Gweneveer
by on May. 9, 2012 at 8:52 AM

How sad :(

Im so sorry you and your family have to go through this.  It must be so hard.  

I would talk to the kids now.  I explained when my aunt was dying of stage 4 cancer.  My oldest was 3.5 and she understood as best she could.  Kids understand alot more than we think.  At least if you are open about it, it wont come as such a shock.  Maybe get some books for dealing with grief?

.Angelica.
by Angie on May. 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

so sorry to hear your family is going through this. i'm not sure the best way or time to tell them.

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