My mother is very ill with cancer and probably will not be with us very much longer. She lives far away, but my seven-year-old is very close to her and is sensing that somehting is wrong. How do I explain to my daughter that Grandma is very sick and will not be with us long?

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Candace - posted on 05/19/2009

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Thank you everyone. My mom passed away on March 2nd. I ended up taking both girls and my husband to see her in February. I knew my mom would want to see the girls one last time. It was the only thing that brought a smile to her face in the week that we were there. She had declined more quickly than we anticipated and was in hospice care and bed-ridden by the time we got there. I would think she was asleep, but she'd hear my daughters playing and she'd smile. We stayed at a motel so that when it all got to be too much my husband could take the girls away to go swimming, etc. My sister was appalled that I brought them, and thought that it would emotionally scar my older daughter, but I know I did the right thing for us. I encourage my daughter to talk about Grandma, and for right now anyways, she is dealing with it better than I am.

Kelsy - posted on 03/16/2009

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Just tell her that grandma is very sick and may die soon. Do not tell her that grandma is going to sleep forever because it can cause a child to fear sleeping. Be honest with her on her level. My mom tried to hide that my grandma had cancer, but I knew she was very ill. I was 9 when she died. My mom also swore the entire family (my younger sister included) to secrecy when my grandfather was diagnoised.

Stacey - posted on 03/16/2009

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Candace,

I am so sorry to hear about your mom, my prayers are with you and your sweet family. I too, lost my mom to cancer 10 years ago before I had children. I now have a 5 year old and a 2 year old and my dad is in his final stages of acute leukemia. I am dealing with the same questions that you are struggling with. We recently went and visited him in Ohio (we live in WI) and let our kids spend time with their "pappaw." However, although they know that he is sick, I have not yet told them that he is going to be dying soon. I just wanted the visit to be a good one and was afriad my 5 year old daughter would have such a hard time with facing the fact that her pappaw was dying that she wouldn't be able to enjoy spending time with him. I know I need to tell her and my son about my dad, but I am having a really hard time with how to tell them and if I can even stay strong enough to get the words up. Then, I worried if I should take them to the funeral or not. It is just so hard. My heart just goes out to you. I pray you have the strength when you need it the most, I know how difficult it is.

User - posted on 01/26/2009

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I'm sorry for your mother, I lost mine 1yr ago to oral cancer so I can feel your pain, it is not easy. The only thing I can say to you is follow your heart, you know your daughter the best, mine was 2 1/2 when my mom passed away, she only knew her with her tumors on her face and the pain she saw in her, but she is the only one that lit my mom's face. I did not hide anything from her, just explained in words she understood, and I can tell you that today she speaks of my mother being with Jesus and being alright with such beauty, what kids can endure and deal with is impressive. So like each thing they do is different, the only person that can really decide is you.... Good luck, and my thoughts are with you in this difficult time, if I can say one thing, say everything to your mom that you ever wanted to say to her, it will help....

Connie - posted on 01/26/2009

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i recenly lost my grandmother and i have a 4 and half year old>my grandmother had always lived with us even when i was a lil girl  so when my grandmother got really sick a year ago and had to go into a nusing home  i took my children ther everyday because my daughter was very close they played together daily. so when my gram came down to her last week my daughter wasnt aloud so we explained to her that gram was really sick and she would not beable to see her  . we didnt want her to remember grandma  lookin as bad as she did so she would only have good memorys of her and also i made the hard choice of not bringing her to the funeral services because i didnt want her to see grandma laying there its not a nice site for anyone!!! hope this helps   so sorry for ur mother

Jenn - posted on 01/26/2009

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My mother died of leukemia in January 2006. My children were 6, 7, and 9 at the time. She had been sick two years earlier but was in remission. When she came out of remission the end came within 3 months. My children and my niece were very close to their nana. They knew she was sick and I didn't keep from them the severity of the situation. The first time around they asked if she was going to die and I was able to be optimistic. The second time I knew it was inevitable that she wouldn't make it through. The worst thing in the world is telling them she's going and then telling them she's gone. Prepare yourself for their questions. They will be blunt. It's extremely painful to go through but children are amazingly resiliant. They will make it through. My youngest even told me one year on the anniversary of her death when I was crying "mommy, don't worry, nana is with us now" It's amazing what they will remember from what you tell them.



I wish I could tell you something to make it less painful. Being there I can only say that time really does make the pain easier to bear.

Jackie - posted on 01/26/2009

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Do you have a hospice center near you? They were wonderful with answering questions we had when my sister-in-law passed away with cancer. They assisted us with how and what to tell the kids and let us see how the kids could be struggling with issues we never thought of. Even though she is not in your area, they may be able to help you with this unfortunate event. My thoughts are with you - God bless

Audrey - posted on 01/26/2009

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I'd take her anyway, sweetheart.  You can always leave her with a family member if your Mum is still adamant about it but my guess is that when your Mum knows that your daughter has come all that way and is longing to see her, she will change her mind.  Your Mum is trying to protect your daughter, but if you can explain to her that it will hurt her far more to be denied one last visit with Grandma than it will to see her "like this", I'm sure she'll understand.  Your Mum loves your daughter very much, that's obvious to me, she wouldn't do anything to hurt her.  A short visit may be best so that your daughter can give her a kiss, maybe a small gift and express her love then have someone to hand who can care for her while you spend the rest of your time with Mum.  She will, no doubt, be very tired.  Your Mum loves you too, darling, and she will not think you are disrespecting her wishes, believe me.  It might be a good idea to prepare your daughter for the fact that Grandma is "very tired and weary now", no need to mention illness; your daughter will understand more what to expect then but, in any case, I think you'll be surprised how sensitive she will be to the situation; children are very instinctive creatures.  I'm so sorry, dear, that your Mum will be passing away soon because I'm sure you will miss her dreadfully; I lost my Mum a few months ago  so I know.  I, too, shall be thinking of you and praying for you.  All will be well darling, don't worry, be at peace.  x

Candace - posted on 01/26/2009

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Thank you to everyone for the advice. I had a long talk with her this weekend and explained that Grandma is very sick and will probably not be getting better. She understood pretty well-she remembers when her other Grandma died. She says she wants to see her, though, to tell her goodbye. She didn't get to tell the other grandma goodbye.



My mom says she doesn't want my daughter to see her like this.



I may be flying back home shortly to tell her goodbye myself. If you were me, would you take my daughter with????



I want to respect my wishes, but I also don't want my daughter to resent not being able to see Grandma one last time.

Melissa - posted on 01/22/2009

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My children have had to go through so many funerals of loved ones in the last 7 years. The best way to help them understand is be truthful with them and let them no that grandma is sick. If you are a christian telling them that if grandma has to leave us she is going to live with Jesus and she wont have any more pain where she is going. They have some books out the too that you could read with her. My kids are 8 and 6 so they have been through alot in such a short time they have lost three great grandparents, their one set of grandparents, two brothers, and severl other family members. I think letting my children no whats going on really helped them. But every child is diffrent. Mine also love stuffed animals so everytime someone got real sick or passed away we went and bought a animal for them to name after them and then when they were thinking of them they can go it and hug it or kiss it or carry it every where with them. I dont know if an of thid will help. I will pray for your mom and your little girls. I know it can be tough on the little ones but sometimes they suprise us and are our strentght durring those tough times with their wisdom. I hope I could help a little. Let me know. Keep me updated on you rmother. I hope she feels better.

Kris - posted on 01/22/2009

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My Mom died when my kids were very young also, You daughter won't be able to grasp right now that your mom is going to die. If your mom is in hospess they have really good books on helping children deal with grief. Sare your feeling with her and you can help each other through this very tough time. I will keep you in my prayers.

Kris - posted on 01/22/2009

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My Mom died when my kids were very young also, You daughter won't be able to grasp right now that your mom is going to die. If your mom is in hospess they have really good books on helping children deal with grief. Sare your feeling with her and you can help each other through this very tough time. I will keep you in my prayers.

Wendy - posted on 01/22/2009

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The way I explained to my son was that Grandpa's body was tired and ready to go home. I didn't explain the medical reasons, just that Grandpa would feel better and happier because he would be home.

Answers like these depend on your childs maturity level and if your family is of faith or not. You know your child best and need to rely on your instinct in answering their questions.

Go with your heart and mentor with your mind.

Sandy - posted on 01/22/2009

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Yes.  I think being open and honest is the best thing you can do.  Explain it to her using language she can understand but be honest.  Kids are incredibly perceptive.  She'll deal with Grandma's death better if it's not a shock.



Prayers coming your way.  It's not an easy thing.

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