Monday 29 October 2012

Talking to your kids about a loved one dying

Not the most cheery of subjects really but a very necessary one. How do you tell your children that a loved one is dying?

At the moment I am down at my Mum and Dad's, it should have been that my Mum was coming to stay with us this half term but sadly things have changed. My beloved Nan went into a hospice last Tuesday and of course we want to be close to her, so here we are and what a blessing, I am able to visit Nan every day and spend time with her.

My Nan, last November when we went out for a day!
She has been poorly for quite some time now, poor lady has had a rough 2012. In April she broke her ankle and we had to call off our girls holiday we were due to take, then in May her colon died and she was in intensive care and very unwell but she pulled back and has been struggling on for the last few months.  About three weeks ago she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has a few other tumours.  We were told the outlook was not good and it would not be that long. My children have been to see my Nan (or Nanny Mary as they call her) in hospital many times in the months since she first broke her ankle.  They have been so good in the elderly peoples wards and have bought a smile to many faces.

I received a call last Saturday to say she was not doing so well, so off I travelled alone to visit. I spent a pleasant day with her and my Mum last Sunday and she seemed pretty well in herself, her pain had subsided and she managed to keep some food down for a while, such a massive improvements on the green bile of the day before. But then once I had gone she got poorly again and things came to a head with my Mum sleeping (or not sleeping as the case was) over on Monday and my Nan being beyond herself in pain, hence the hospice admission.  Looking back in retrospect I can see that many times when I have come to see her/ stay with her she has been well while I was here and then worsened as I left.  I had not knowingly realised that though, not until just writing it now.

That seems quite poignant to me when I think about the fact that in the last 48 hours she has come to Christ and been saved, not because of my direct input I hasten to add, but I hear she told the doctor today that it was my faith that bought her to Jesus. She feels I have led her there and that is very comforting to me but more so the fact that I know she is now heading for Heaven and a wonderful and blissful ever-life with the creator.

Anyway I digress, it is of course a privilege to watch God at work, he really is linking things up and showing us His words and will.  As Nan talked to me about things yesterday and I shared them with my husband last night he then shared with me the message of the sermon he went to and a present he bought me that totally fit with what Nan has said. Then the best part was when my Mum started to hear all the coincidences coming together and kept saying 'it really is as if there is a God'.  Yes Mum, funny that!

We really do not know how long Nan has left, we are led to believe it is days rather than weeks and I am wondering what to tell my kids. I was honest with my 9 year old JJ a week or so back when the terminal cancer diagnosis was given and I told him that Nanny Mary was dying and very poorly now.  He has asked me a few questions and asked how she looks but to be honest I don't think he has really taken it in. Thank the Lord they all saw her the week before I travelled to Ethiopia and were able to spend some time whilst she was in hospital and to kiss and hug her.

The twins are only 5 and to be honest are probably closer to my Nan than JJ, they are still at that age when they are happy to hug and kiss old ladies.  On Saturday we took my Nan a decorated coaster that Miss M had made her and she loved that and then yesterday I took her a beaded necklace that Miss E had made and I'm told she has not stopped touching it yet.  She talks about all the colours and how they represent the messages she is getting from the Lord and her life's puzzle is all coming together for her.  Of course this is stuff that kids cannot get, it is hard enough to piece it all together as an adult.

Because they could not visit they sent a photo instead!

So the girls know she is now in a hospice and more poorly than when she was in hospital.  They have asked me if she will die and I have said yes, we all will sometime but we do not know when.  They know their Nanny is very sad as her Mummy is so poorly but do I just leave it now and tell them she has gone once she dies?  I think that is what I am thinking right now.

I am going down the route of honesty being best and of course I will keep it age appropriate, they do not need to know about the pain or suffering she has gone though.

Because I'm a Christian and now I know Nan is saved this makes the conversation much easier as obviously I believe that Nan is entering the best stage once she leave earth and joins Christ.

I would be interested to hear how other parents have spoken to their children in the same situation and any Christian parenting wisdom would be really appreciated too.  Thanks for sharing, Mich x

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