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Telling the grandchildren

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 13:55

My dad is 73 and has recently been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.  It has spread to his lymph nodes so is incurable but he has started on hormone treatment. The consultant told us as long as the HT works the cancer can be controlled.  This can be anything from 18 months to 4 years.  On the positives though he feels well and has no symptoms at all - he was diagnosed 5 yrs ago but was very slow growing but somehow in the last year it started growing really fast and his PSA level shot up.  My mum is finding it really hard to deal with the whole situation.  I saw them last week and they both broke down.  I have 2 children 13 and 11 and really don't know whether to tell them or how to tell them.  He is desperate to see them but doesn't know how to and what happens if his emotions take over and he breaks down.  If I told them then at least they know why Nan and Grandad are upset.  My son is autistic and very black and white and we don't have any definitive answers of how or when to tell him.  Just wondering what other peoples advice is on telling the grandchildren.   Because he is well they don't actually need to know but from his point of view I think he may be avoided seeing them because it is too hard emotionally. Many thanks 

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 14:33
Tell them as they need to know at each progression of the Cancer.

Don't make a huge unnecessary announcement.

Let them see that Grandad is upset......he is.

"Why is Grandad upset"?

"He's poorly".

"What with"?

......and off you go......

DON'T lie.

Just tell the truth a bit at a time.

No need at the moment to predict the future for them, discussions of death etc.

Outline what's happening at each stage.

Kids can see through sugar coating and lies.

Cancer / Death is uncomfortable. They will cry.

Lies from parents will cause more problems.They will be angry and cry more.

I see things a bit Black & White too.

Ian.

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 14:34
What a dilemma?

I probably have a different outlook to many regarding death as my Mum died when I was 7, over 55 years ago.

Your kids will know that people do not live forever, so why not tell them ‘Grandad is not very well”, despite appearances, and get them to enjoy his company for as long as possible, which as you say, could be many years down the line.

They should travel his ‘journey’ (I hate that expression), together with the rest of the family.

Not sure whether this helps at all, but best of luck.

Cheers, John.

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User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 14:33
Tell them as they need to know at each progression of the Cancer.

Don't make a huge unnecessary announcement.

Let them see that Grandad is upset......he is.

"Why is Grandad upset"?

"He's poorly".

"What with"?

......and off you go......

DON'T lie.

Just tell the truth a bit at a time.

No need at the moment to predict the future for them, discussions of death etc.

Outline what's happening at each stage.

Kids can see through sugar coating and lies.

Cancer / Death is uncomfortable. They will cry.

Lies from parents will cause more problems.They will be angry and cry more.

I see things a bit Black & White too.

Ian.

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 14:34
What a dilemma?

I probably have a different outlook to many regarding death as my Mum died when I was 7, over 55 years ago.

Your kids will know that people do not live forever, so why not tell them ‘Grandad is not very well”, despite appearances, and get them to enjoy his company for as long as possible, which as you say, could be many years down the line.

They should travel his ‘journey’ (I hate that expression), together with the rest of the family.

Not sure whether this helps at all, but best of luck.

Cheers, John.

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 15:52

Get a copy of this excellent book from your Macmillan cancer centre, or read it online:

Talking to Children and Teenagers when an Adult has Cancer

 

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 17:46

Children accept the truth and there is no need to go into detail but it is wise to let them know that their Grandad is a bit poorly and may feel a bit tired now and then but not too worry if he and grandma sometimes seem sad.

It is much easier for them to understand  about the changes that getting older brings and it prepares them for understanding that sometimes people do not get better. 

I would let them ask whatever they want and answer as honestly as possible without scaring them. Grandad may well live for many more years and will be able to share in their lives. The more children learn about compassion and it being ok to cry will help them to deal with future grief.

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 18:20
4 years seems a tad pessimistic - we have men still here 10 years after an advanced diagnosis and in a couple of cases, 14 years plus. On that basis, it is important not to give your children the idea that grandad is dying. Based on your post, though, I think it might be your mum and dad who need a better understanding of the situation?
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Soren Kierkegaard

User
Posted 03 Nov 2019 at 18:28

You guys just enjoy one another & make every second of every minute count - whatever the outcome. Completely understand your reticence at what to say, but what comes through is that you are a loving and caring family.

 
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