M.L. asks from Ansonia, CT on October 22, 2006
Terminally Ill Father
How do you prepare children for the death of their grandfather? My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostrate cancer and ostioscaroma. He has 15 weeks of radiation to go through but the doctors said it would be a miracle if gets through it. My father is 84 years old. I'm just wondering how to explain things to my kids and how to prepare them for what is to come.
J.L. answers from New York on October 23, 2006
Hi M. --
Will Hospice be involved? If so they have people trained to come and help children deal with this issue. I hospiced my grandmother in my home and my children were apart of it. When asked they will tell me that their Badka is their angle watching them. They were young my son was 7 and my daughter was 5. Just be honest with them and explaine it in words they will undersatnd.
N.M. answers from Rochester on October 26, 2006
i think the 13 & 9 year old will understand more than the 4 year old, and just tell them basic info, don't get into detail. let them see him as much as possible, or with what they are comfortable with. they don't need to hear all the details until they are old enough to really understand. when the time comes, it will obviously make them upset to see you upset, but just reassure them that you are ok, even though you may not be. and if you have help to take care of them when the time comes, please take it, you can't take care of your kids if you are not well yourself. please take care of yourself and my prayers are with you
K.R. answers from New London on October 25, 2006
First I am very sorry to hear about your father. My grandmother just pasted away 2 years ago from lung cancer. My older two were 1 and 3. Although the one year old didn't really understand what was going on my 3 year old did. We just explained that the angels came down and took her to heaven. We didn't prepare her for the actual death, we just tried to prepare her for the funeral. Explaining that it would look like GIGI was sleeping but she was watching with the angels. We did the same thing with my cousin (he was 5 at the time) when my grandfather died. I personally feel you can never fully prepare for the death of a loved one and I try to explain it as tha person will always be looking down and even though you can't see them, they are still part of your life. Good luck.
J.F. answers from New York on October 24, 2006
I can't tell you how to prepare as I dont think there is an actual way, my mom passed 6 years ago and it was right in the middle of my divorce, I think my daughter is what got me through it all, but as for preparing I would just try to spend quality time with him and the boys while you can, because that is what you want them to remember. My daughter barely remembers my mom so I write down things, stories about her for my daughter to share with me so that she can get to know my mom through me. Have your boys talk to your dad about things he did in his life, those stories will be treasures and held onto more then the sickness. Keep a journal of the stories if you can, I wish luck and I am so sorry for your sadness, I send you smiles and joy where ever possible. Judy
K.D. answers from New York on October 23, 2006
This is natural and expected at the end of all life, so in everything you do, try to show them that this isn't a shock, that you will all live through this, that your father's memory will live on, and to "remember the good times". Be happy in the time you are with him, smile a lot, try to seem at peace so that both your father and the kids can be at peace. When your father is towards the end, be sure to tell him that it's okay to go, when he wants to, that you will all be fine, and everything's "set". Don't let him think he's got unfinished business so he'll suffer along thinking he's got stuff to do. When he's tired, he needs to just leave. Fighting to stay alive is hard work when all else has failed. I just went through this with my Aunt, and it was difficult, in a hospice, she lingered for over a week semi-conscious. Remember, even at the end, even when they can't move or talk or even blink an eye, that they CAN hear you. Always talk TO your Dad when in his presence, don't talk to others in the room with him like he's not there, even if he's quiet. (they taught me this at the hospice, that it confuses people who are laying there, when they can hear a conversation taking place but it's not for them, makes them try to fight to get up to converse). Getting back to the kids though, they have to know that crying is okay and normal, losing someone you love is terribly sad, but is a normal life thing. There is nothing to fear, you don't want them to be afraid of death, which will ultimately claim us all! You will be strong and hold hands and be there together to enjoy the time with your father while you still can, and he will live in each of your hearts and souls, so he'll never REALLY be gone, you just won't SEE him anymore. Good luck to you, it's a horrible time to lose a parent (I already lost both my older sister AND my father, so I do know the gaping hole in your life!!!) but you know he wants you to enjoy your life and keep doing what it is you do to enjoy yourself and enrich your children's lives.... best wishes to you....
D. answers from New York on October 23, 2006
There are several books out there for little kids that explain death and heaven (I don't know your belief's). Go to your local bookstore and look around in the kids section. You might find something that drives the point across without being to scary or harsh.
B.G. answers from Lewiston on October 23, 2006
First, let me express my sincere condolences for you and your family. Preparing for the death of a parent is never easy. I commend you for wanting to prepare your children as well as possible, but don't forget about yourself and your own grief.
Helping your children understand and cope with the loss of their Grandfather will help you too. There are LOTS of children's books (and adult books for YOU) on the subject of death and dying. I recommend that you visit your local library or favorite book store. If you don't find what you need, ASK. They will be able to help you find the right resources and order or borrow them from other libraries/book sellers.
Also, in the mean time, make new memories with Grampa. Visit as much as you can; talk on the phone; TAKE PICTURES;
that may seem awkward at first, but later, you will have those tokens to cherish. Make the most of your old memories and HIS history too. Ask him to tell favorite stories of his glory days, so that you can remember them when he is gone. Knowing that he will be a cherished memory may make his passing easier for HIM too.
C.D. answers from Buffalo on October 23, 2006
First off Im so very sorry to hear about your father. I lost my father 11 years ago when my son was 3 just about going on 4 years old. His gramma and Papa were very close to him. My son didn't understand why he couldn't SEE his papa anymore. I told him that papa was sick and has gone to live in heaven with Jesus where he wouldn't feel pain or suffer anymore. But I also told him at night when the stars are shining bright that one of them stars was papa and that he could look up into the sky and the star that was shining brightest was his papa. That seemed to help him because he would always look and say hi to his papa. I hope this helps a little for you. Again Im so very sorry to hear about your father.
J.R. answers from New York on October 22, 2006
Let me start by saying that I'm sorry to hear about your father. I lost my dad 5 years ago to heart disease and my grandmother 4 years ago to the same. My son wasn't born at the time of either and I don't know how religious you are, but I told my daughter that Jesus spoke to Papa and Gram and told them that if they wanted, they could go live with him and they wouldn't be sick anymore. They would be happy and healthy and they could watch her grow up from heaven and they would smile all the time. I also told her that Jesus said they would have beautiful wings like angels and that when she prayed, she could ask Jesus to let them visit her in her dreams, that way she could see them every night. My daughter is 8 now and to this day, every night when she prays, she asks for a dream to see her Papa and Gram. Good luck to you. If you need to talk to to just vent your anger and sadness, please email me (____@____.com).