How do I tell my kids my dad is dying?

Cyndi - posted on 06/21/2013 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Hi everyone. My kids are 8, 7, & 6 and my dad has stage 4 kidney failure. My children are very close to him and I have no idea how to tell them their pawpaw will not get better. As young as my kids are they have already dealt with their dad being in a major car accident and he was in the hospital for 6+ weeks and me going back and forth to be with him and them, losing their great grandfather to cancer and 2 grandparents on their dads side very suddenly. If you can help please do.

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Diana - posted on 06/24/2013

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I am so sorry that your are going through this with your dad.

I was 10 when my father was first diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. My brother & sister were 6 & 3 at the time. My family was honest with us and told us in a way that we would understand. They told us that he was very sick with a disease called cancer. They explained that there are many types of cancer and that doctors can't always cure it. They said that we should be kind, patient, and understanding with him because he didn't feel good. They didn't dwell on how long he may or may not have had left. In his case we had an idea of how sick he was because he couldn't eat anything that wasn't liquified. I remember him joking with my Grandmother (he was very close to my mom's mother because his own mother passed away when he was young) during his last Christmas that her ham, gravy, & sweet potato milkshake was the best thing he'd ever tasted. Lol.

I know that this is a religious answer and some may find it offensive, but this is what my grandmother told us and it was a simple enough explanation that as children it made perfect sense & was very comforting. If you can always alter the explanation to something that fits your beliefs:

Jesus has a big house in Heaven with a room for everyone. When our room is ready, that's when we go home to live with him. Most of the time we don't go to live with Jesus until we are very old, but sometimes when someone is very sick or hurt very badly the only way that they can be made better is for Jesus to bring them home to him in Heaven so he needs to get their room ready sooner. Jesus knows that the doctors have done everything they can to help and there is nothing more they know how to do. He doesn't like to bring people home to him before they are old because he knows their family will miss them, but it hurts his heart to see them in pain or suffering when he can bring them home to him to heal them and they don't have to hurt anymore. Once He brings them home to him they can't come back, but they can see and hear everything we do while they wait in Heaven until our room is ready when we are old and gray.

He passed away the next year when we were 11, 7, & 4. My little sister (4) took the it the hardest at the funeral because she didn't understand why they were lowering daddy into the ground, but my grandmother took her aside, told her that her daddy wasn't really in there anymore, and pointed to the sky telling her that if she looked really hard she might be able to see the angels lifting his spirit to Heaven. I remember that it calmed her right down as she looked up swearing she could see it. Lol. Our Grammy also told her that when it thundered it was probably our Daddy driving his 18-wheeler (he was a truck driver) through Heaven making another delivery water for the plants for God.

Shannon - posted on 06/23/2013

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Hi Cyndi - i just lost my Dad to Mesothelioma - first off - i would like to relay my sympathy and heartfelt condolences to YOU and what you are going through - it is a tough journey - be sure to take pictures with your Dad and to tell him everyday you love him. Enjoy your time with him no matter how hard it is. secondly - i have a 9 and 12 yr old who were incredibly close to my Dad. I was honest and forthright with them, but gentle and caring. I answered their questions no matter how hard, and i cried with them and for them. i have friends who didn't tell their kids, and then whispered and snuck around dealing with it - and that doesn't seem right to me. I wanted my children to be a part of the last months of my Dad's life, to see that we grieve and cry for those we love - while still being good people and productive people...that we hold on to one another in times of sorrow...Thankfully, we have strong faith - and i wanted my kids to see that too. Hugs to you and your whole family, KNOW that there are others feeling as you do today; and that your sorrow will heal with time. ♥

Greg - posted on 06/21/2013

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Greg Chase of Childabuse.com, helping children cope with loss, pending loss is tough beyond measure. All of us here at childabuse.com express our care heart felt empathy for you and your children. We offer FOR FREE a downloadable program on how to help children and you cope with loss. This production was put together for kids and teens who have or are facing a loss by one of this countries greatest advisors and mentors for kids and teens, Mark Gregston. We would love to offer the free download here at Childabuse.com by pressing this link: http://www.childabuse.com/authors/marks_...
To see other free help series for children, teens, and family you may visit Childabuse.com or press on any author. For Mark Gregston's Corner, great kid and family advise, articles packed full of FREE information and recommendations on how to guide your children (and you) through the coming months ahead. See Mark's Corner here: http://www.childabuse.com/authors/marksc...

We wish you well, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have questions or need help. Everyone here cares, and is willing to step up and give help where we can.

Gregory Chase
Childabuse.com
editor and author

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Amanda - posted on 06/26/2013

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I lost my grandma two years ago in November. My son watched her slowly get worse from ALS. He was three when she passed and I told him the truth. We always went to see her when she did end up in the hospital and he we talk about her often. My son at first didn't understand but two years later and I think he gets it. Our cat is very old and sick and one day he asked me when our cats dies will she go see G'ma (What he called my grandma) I told him yes. Just remember to tell them that as long as we remember them and hold them in our hearts they are never truly gone. They need to know, i guess if you believe in heaven, that they can always talk to him and he will hear them. I know when I have a hard day I talk to my grandma and it is as if she answers. They will be sad, but one thing I find with kids, they bounce back very fast. Make it a happy time talk about their favorite memory and funny stories. We celebrated my grandma's life with a memory slide show. Maybe your sons could do something special for the family to look at, a memory collage or scrapbook as a way for them to heal. Sorry to hear about your dad, thoughts and prayers to your family.

Deanna - posted on 06/24/2013

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I had to go through something similar on Christmas last year. My husband's grandma died Christmas Eve and we had to tell the young kids. I had no idea what to do or say. So I asked some friends. A friend, who has been teaching young children for a long time, told me to be honest. Answer all questions they ask and don't lie. When they ask where he will go, tell them what you believe. When they ask why, say you don't know. I don't know is a valid answer with kids. Then, let them spend as much time with him as they want. One may not want to spend any time while another wants to see him every day. Let them tell you how they want to deal with his impending passing. Do not force them to go see him if they don't want to. It is a way to remember him they way he was and not how he will be.
I am sorry for the soon loss of your Dad. I am sending hugs to you and your family.

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Greg - posted on 06/23/2013

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Ms. Rudko,
Well said, I agree fully that children, and the whole family needs to be part of the entire cycle of life. Taking the honest and forthright path, is the only path that leads to healing; and an understanding of life.

Respectfully,

Gregory Chase
Childabuse.com
editor and author

Supported by DiapersRus.com, diapers for youths and teens delivered discretely to your door.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 06/21/2013

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gently.

very gently. They need to be prepared ahead of time, because you REALLY don't want to have the "we'll never be able to see PawPaw again" conversation suddenly.

I'm so sorry for the situation! But, as I said, gently. Let them know that they need to treasure the time they get to cuddle with him now, and make a special place for their memories of him. Make sure you get some good pics with them now, as well.

Memory books are a good tool in helping cope with the loss of a grandparent as well.

Whatever you do, just don't spring it on them out of the blue...good luck

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