Children and dying (adults)- Update: He's gone

Two Peas is Closing
Click here to visit our final product sale. Click here to visit our FAQ page regarding the closing of Two Peas.

Posted 1/20/2013 by gorgeouskid in NSBR Board

You gots to access your uncrazy side.

PeaNut 83,119
April 2003
Posts: 10,325
Layouts: 10

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:33:19 PM
How do you feel about children visiting the dying?

My FIL is dying of advanced cancer, fortunately no pain. He's in the hospital now, not stable enough to transfer to a hospice, and unlikely (barring a true miracle) to survive. We've all been there- MIL, his three kids and their spouses, and three grandchildren. It's strange to me- we had pizza delivered last night and it was like a mini fiesta. We were laughing and crying alternately. FIL keeps delivering his momentous last words. On my side of the family, dying was private and done alone or with a spouse.

My son is eleven and has been hanging out in the hospital on and off since Friday. We spend some time there and then go do whatever activity was planned. He cried on Friday when he first visited. Yesterday he was okay. Today FIL seemed worse, and we were there for about an hour. When we were saying goodbye, DS was sobbing and didn't stop until after we got home. On the way to the car, he kept stopping to hug me tightly and sob. I feel so sad for him.

The other grandkids are much younger and most likely won't remember this experience while DS definitely will. We are trying to make it a joyous experience ("Yes, we are sad, but Grandpa is so happy we are here." etc.) Our pastor has been there and the youth group/congregation is praying for the family.

We did have a laugh that FIL was singing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and I downloaded it to play for him. He sang and listened a couple of times. On a whim, I asked him if there were other songs he'd like to hear. "AC/DC." Okay- quick download of a few songs. He was singing "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" as we left. I hope that memory is one that sticks with DS.

I really hope I haven't doomed DS to a lifetime of therapy because he's had to experience this tragedy first hand.

Don't let the dreamkillers get me

PeaNut 109,681
October 2003
Posts: 7,113
Layouts: 112
Loc: so. california

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:41:36 PM
My nieces were 12 and 18 when my mom was dying. They knew for months that she was not going to recover. When hospice called and said my mom took a sudden turn and had about a day left, we were there. They weren't there at the last moments the next day. I'm glad they were not. I preferred their very last memory to be grandma alive. They were not traumatized by the final visit. I think it was good closure fr them. On some level I would hate for them to wonder why they couldn't see her one last time so I'm glad they got their chance.

I hope you find what works best for your kids. I think kids are a lot stronger than we think.


PeaNut 434,842
August 2009
Posts: 2,838
Layouts: 654

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:41:54 PM
I think it's a good opportunity for him to get to say goodbye. Also, it's a lesson in appreciating life and making the most of your time with someone while they're still alive. And it's a good lesson on being there to support someone when they need you, even though it's hard on you. So I think it's a good idea.


PeaNut 87,007
May 2003
Posts: 3,339
Layouts: 18
Loc: QLD, Australia

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:42:59 PM
I think you've shown your son what happens as a part of life, not doomed him to a life of therapy. Losing a loved one is sad but it's what happens to everyone at some stage. From your post, the sobbing on the way to the car sounds to me like he's working through his grief and knows what is coming. I think things like this helps us develop coping skills for other situations in life. I'm sure he'll remember the AC/DC song and how his grandfather was happy to have his family around him, eating pizza and playing music.

I'm really sorry you'll be losing your FIL soon and will be thinking of you.


Shameless Husker Fan

PeaNut 49,249
September 2002
Posts: 49,515
Layouts: 123
Loc: Husker Nation

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:47:54 PM
My mother had an unexpected medical condition last summer and crashed at the hospital. They brought her back and put her on a respirator. She was on heavy meds because she was in a great deal of pain. When we knew there was nothing that could be done, and the family made the decision to let her go, my husband went to get our children so they could say good bye. They were 16, 15, 13 and 10 at the time. They said good by to her.

When she was taken off life support, my father, all my siblings, some of the spouses and several of the grandchildren were in the room. My 4 children, one brother's 2 sons, and another brother's son and daughter. They stayed in the room until she passed. None of them has shown any negative effects from the experience.

I'm sorry about your FIL.



PeaNut 183,504
January 2005
Posts: 4,477
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:52:11 PM
Oh my goodness, I'm sorry for what you're going through. My family just went through this although my kids are a little older.

I think you are doing a great job, Mom. You are there for him and you're letting him feel whatever he feels. Death and dying is a rollercoaster and the fact that you are all sometimes laughing and sometimes crying is perfectly normal.

Personally I think you are doing him a great favor by helping him through this experience. In our culture we are kind of weird about death -- like you said on your side of the family it's done in private. Personally I don't think that's the healthiest way but to each his own. That being said, it's how I grew up and I developed an intense phobia about death and dying. Once I had to experience it, right along side my mother, I felt literally freed of my phobia. It's not scary (doesn't have to be) and it's such a natural thing.

I respect that everyone can feel how they want to feel about it and I understand why you're worried coming from the background that you describe. I decided to just forage ahead and make my own way in dealing with my mother's death and I brought my kids along with me all the way. No hiding anything. In the end I gave them the choice to say goodbye while she was still alive or after she had gone. Everyone chose differently and for themselves and we reinforced over and over that it was entirely okay either way. No judgment in any direction. Just do what feels right for you.

This is long but let me also add that having spent months in a hospice center, I saw dozens and dozens of family dealing with death and everyone had their own way to go about it. One family had a bit ole drunken party and other families came in and out in the middle of the night and you never saw them. One extreme to the other and no one in the wrong, IMO.


PeaNut 434,842
August 2009
Posts: 2,838
Layouts: 654

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:54:33 PM
I agree with others' responses too - you can't shield him from the realities of life. This is something he is going to have to go through, and at least right now, he has you to help him through it.


PeaNut 16,299
June 2001
Posts: 564
Layouts: 2
Loc: Milwaukee, WI

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:54:42 PM
I don't think you have scarred your child at all. Death is a part of life.

It sound like the family is celebrating you fil's life while he can still be a part of it. Is it really hard at times? Of course. After time the pain lessens and all involved can appreciate

Just be there for your DS.

My dd was was 7 when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died 10 days after the diagnosis. She visited him a few times, including the evening before he died. I am so glad that she had that time. It made the funeral and all that followed much easier. It was the closure and good bye that she needed.


Mom to a Peanut, a Slugger, and a Boo.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 12,875
March 2001
Posts: 8,668
Layouts: 11

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:55:25 PM

It's strange to me- we had pizza delivered last night and it was like a mini fiesta. We were laughing and crying alternately. FIL keeps delivering his momentous last words.

I don't think you have doomed him to a life of therapy. I think you have shown him that death is a natural and inevitable part of life. You have shown him that family is important and that you are there for each other even in the bad times. And you have shown him that it is okay to laugh even when you are grieving. Those are all good things.

I am sorry for your FIL's diagnosis.


PeaNut 259,367
April 2006
Posts: 8,896
Layouts: 0
Loc: Midwest

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:56:46 PM
I think visiting him while he is alive is a good idea.

In eighth grade, I was supposed to see my grandpa in the hospital when he was dying, but he passed away early morning. I have always wished I could have seen him one more time.

When my dad was dying in Novemeber, my 16 and 18 year old sons visited him, but not toward the end in the last few days where he looked pretty bad, and certainly not for the death. The death itself was a bit much for me, but I am glad I was here. I would never have my kids see that.

Sometimes you harm the cause more than you help.

PeaNut 175,985
November 2004
Posts: 12,900
Layouts: 33
Loc: Buffalo NY

Posted: 1/20/2013 9:57:55 PM
We just went through this. My grandmother died 3 weeks ago. My girls 7&9 saw her in the days before. She was lucid and knew who we were. I am glad they saw her before she died.


Sugar Snap Pea

PeaNut 257,999
April 2006
Posts: 13,934
Layouts: 3

Posted: 1/20/2013 10:35:06 PM
When my mom was dying a year ago, I asked my then 8 year old whether he wanted to see her one last time. I explained that she was mostly asleep and that it might be a little scary and she might not know him, and that I was completely ok with him choosing not to go. His response : "It's important." She woke up for him, said the only coherent sentences she had said for a week (and the last I heard from her, and she died a week and a day later). They told each other how much love they had for each other and he got to tell her that he will miss her. They had a private joke that she was able to share with him again. It was wonderful. I chose to end it on that high note, not to take him back for the next week because she was comatose. I think it was really good for him.

I think you are doing great.

You gots to access your uncrazy side.

PeaNut 83,119
April 2003
Posts: 10,325
Layouts: 10

Posted: 1/20/2013 10:48:38 PM
Thanks for the sweet messages... It's hard being the strong one (for DS, MIL, DH, SIL, etc...) I slept until ten this morning, something I never do, and I'm sure it's a reaction to what's going on. I find peace in slumber.

It sound like the family is celebrating your fil's life while he can still be a part of it. Is it really hard at times? Of course. After time the pain lessens and all involved can appreciate.

I'm so glad that we can laugh and have a "good" time while this awful thing is happening. FIL has "ordered" us to have a party at his favorite restaurant when he's gone. We definitely will...

I know/know that DS is going to be okay, but it's nice to hear that I'm on the right track and not dooming him to a life of fears of death and dying.


PeaNut 539,967
January 2012
Posts: 475
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/20/2013 11:11:43 PM
I think you are doing a great job.

Your DS will be sad and his sobbing means he is coming to terms with the loss of his Grandpa. I'm sure he will be sad for a wee while but his overriding memories of his Grandpa's death will be the pizza and singing and that is a lovely memory for him to have.

If your FIL can no longer recognise people or is sleeping all the time, then it might be prudent to keep your DS away. Gauge the situation and perhaps suggest a final goodbye for DS.

When my mum was dying (it was only one week) there were often loads of us in her room. We had a routine that two of us were there 24 hours but my siblings, nephews and nieces popped in when they could. A few hours before mum died she said to my sister and I that although she didn't talk much she heard everything and she loved having her family with her.


PeaNut 134,568
March 2004
Posts: 585
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/20/2013 11:45:36 PM
I think you are doing the right thing but I know how worried we can be about our kids.

My mother in law was diagnosed with a gallbladder "issue" at the end of Sept. We found out it was actually cancer just after Thanksgiving. She was in and out of the hospital all that time. We found out she had days left and we brought her home with hospice Dec 21 (She had been living with us for the last 8 years) She passed away Dec 31st.

Throughout it all I was so worried about my kids who are 12 and 14. She was like a 2nd mom to them.. Anyway, they are doing very good. The were involved the whole time. I did notice the last few days when she was mostly unconscious they stopped coming into her suite. They are sad as we all are, they miss her but I think it was a very valuable lesson about life and death. I think it helped them to be able to say goodbye. We too had times of laughter and tears. We had a great Christmas even knowing the end was near.

Wow sorry it got so long, it is still very close to me.

Sorry you are having to go through this I know how hard it is.

Scrapmaven is stalkin my Kitteh!

PeaNut 159,334
July 2004
Posts: 14,077
Layouts: 0
Loc: Left Coast

Posted: 1/20/2013 11:59:40 PM
Pain management is better now than when I was nine, visiting my cancer-riddled mother 38 years ago.

I must say, that visiting my mother in the hospital as she lay slowly dying from ovarian cancer, was traumatic. But I would not want to not have had those visits. I just wish that she would have not had to grit her teeth through such unbearable pain through them. Or the rest of the time until her death.

If a child is close to the relative who is dying, to deny the chance to say goodbye and I love you could be more traumatizing than the deathbed visit.


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 497,090
January 2011
Posts: 7,223
Layouts: 1

Posted: 1/21/2013 1:07:54 AM
Take them, have a party, laugh, cry, remember and be together.

I think that makes the passing easier.

My neighbor passed away with a big party going on. All of his family was around him, telling stories of his life, laughing, remembering. He just went to sleep.

That is how I went to go....Laughing.

You gots to access your uncrazy side.

PeaNut 83,119
April 2003
Posts: 10,325
Layouts: 10

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:15:59 PM
FIL is still hanging in there.

We went to visit last night and DS asked to go home because he was uncomfortable. I took him home immediately. DS won't be going back unless DS asks.


PeaNut 399,301
November 2008
Posts: 915
Layouts: 0

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:22:54 PM
I think it sounds like a beautiful experience for your son. He seems to be handling it as well as possible. Just let him know that it's okay for him to feel too overwhelmed to visit and reassure him that his grandpa loves him and is proud of him either way.

I am so sorry for the grief your family is enduring, but I admire the joy and love with which you've approached your FIL's time in hospice.

Many hugs to you all.

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

PeaNut 41,779
July 2002
Posts: 33,738
Layouts: 58
Loc: The Left Coast

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:24:47 PM
I think seeing a good death is beneficial, not harmful. My huge hugs to you, I know how very hard it is.

"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." - Louisa May Alcott

Pea Who Should Be Cleaning!

PeaNut 145,006
May 2004
Posts: 11,487
Layouts: 92
Loc: at home in front of the computer

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:29:02 PM
I think you are doing a wonderful thing - both for your fil and for your son.

I really don't think that you are casuing any harm to your son - these last moments are the ones that so many of us wish we could have had with our grandparents...

On dry runs Santa drives the Isuzu

PeaNut 159,331
July 2004
Posts: 9,903
Layouts: 0
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:29:17 PM
You are doing great, Mom. Just keep talking to DS. Make it safe for him to vent, ask questions, whatever he needs.

You are your family are in my prayers. I'm sorry you are going through this.

-Tania... but people who like me call me `Tang`

The secret of a good life is to have the right loyalties and hold them in the right scale of values.
Norman Thomas
US socialist politician (1884 - 1968)

Human and civil rights should NEVER be subject to the tyranny of the majority. Minorities gain legal equality only when those in power come to understand that their unearned privilege is wrong, and enforce change upon society. - ProfessorZed

You gots to access your uncrazy side.

PeaNut 83,119
April 2003
Posts: 10,325
Layouts: 10

Posted: 1/22/2013 8:41:58 PM
Last night, when we went to the hospital, MIL was in bed cuddling with FIL. I saw the beauty in a well-lived life. It was peaceful and really a joy (for me- with perspective.) He kept whispering, "Forty-six years married. Can you believe it?" MIL and FIL kept giving kisses- so sweet.

I was with my step-dad eight years ago when he died. It was at home and not unexpected, though when the nurse came in and told me that he was gone, I was surprised because I was holding his hand and didn't realize it. It's really unlike the movies.

DH and BIL are there now, and there is talk of bringing FIL home tomorrow. None of the doctors can believe he has made it this far. Strong heart.

Unfortunately, DS is now sick with a fever and sore throat which will keep him inside for a day or two.

You gots to access your uncrazy side.

PeaNut 83,119
April 2003
Posts: 10,325
Layouts: 10

Posted: 1/23/2013 10:27:41 PM
FIL passed away this afternoon. My husband wanted to tell DS, but put it off until well after he'd gotten home. He just avoided it completely. I finally had to say that either he do it or I would. We told DS together.

DS handled it better than we thought he would. I think he is just all cried out...


PeaNut 434,842
August 2009
Posts: 2,838
Layouts: 654

Posted: 1/23/2013 10:31:29 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss I think it was a great gift to your DS that he had that time at the end with him and got to say goodbye.

Mary Kay Lady
I'm thinking . . .

PeaNut 367,913
March 2008
Posts: 5,459
Layouts: 0
Loc: The state of Confusion!

Posted: 1/23/2013 10:41:32 PM

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 163,728
August 2004
Posts: 5,024
Layouts: 41
Loc: Connecticut

Posted: 1/23/2013 10:45:47 PM
I think it is wonderful what you did.
I remember my grandmother dying. We had borthdays a few days apart so I used to make her a birthday crown and we would share a party. She hated those crowns and rarely smiled so the pictures I have poor woman looks so miserable in her construction paper glittery hat. lol
I was 8 when she died. I remember going to her house as usual on a Saturday but she wasn't at the door to greet us. She was activly dying of stomach cancer and terribly jaundiced. My Dad wouldn't let me see her and I tried to sneak in. I just remember the color of her legs and knowing it wasn't a normal color. I was so afraid and no one would tell me why I couldn't see her. Next thing I knew I was in a church being told by people I didn't know that they were sorry I was never going to see my grandmother again. I had no real idea why.

Death is treated like such a horrible thing in my family and I am scared to death of it (excuse the pun. I didn't mean it) Honestly my death doesn't frighten me that much. I was much too close to it many times during my illness. Death of others is what I am afraid of. I am sure it has a bit to do with how it is treated in my family.

I am glad you gave your son a chance to say goodbye and to truly grieve.

Jan *********************************************

Pea Who Should Be Cleaning!

PeaNut 145,006
May 2004
Posts: 11,487
Layouts: 92
Loc: at home in front of the computer

Posted: 1/24/2013 8:51:01 AM
I'm sorry for your family's loss. A special hug for your son....

Bubbie is my most prized title.

PeaNut 99,833
August 2003
Posts: 5,226
Layouts: 2
Loc: Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted: 1/24/2013 9:21:41 AM
I'm so sorry about your family having to go through this, but yes it is a gift to focus on those we love when they are leaving us. It is part of living. You, indeed, gave your son a gift.

My favorite thing to make for dinner is reservations.
Visit me on Pinterest:

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 6,487
September 2000
Posts: 5,895
Layouts: 16
Loc: Livonia, MI USA

Posted: 1/24/2013 9:24:20 AM

Rather than a lifetime of therapy, you have started him on a lifetime of coping skills for dealing with the loss of family and friends that will inevitably take place as he gets older and older, and finally the coping skills for his own mortality many decades from now.

Spoken by a wise woman! This is so very true.

So very sorry for your loss. Remember your husband's loss as well, as you are working to comfort and guide your DS through this experience.

(I didn't realize how hard my DH took the loss of his father as I was trying to be comforting to my kids at the loss of their grandfather. Even 7 years later, I can see DH withdraw a little on the day of his dad's birthday as he is still grieving.)

Hugs to you all!


PeaNut 16,260
June 2001
Posts: 6,819
Layouts: 47
Loc: The Frozen Land of Alaska

Posted: 1/24/2013 10:10:07 AM
I am sorry for your loss.

You are a good mom.


Bring me that horizon!

PeaNut 239,162
December 2005
Posts: 29,196
Layouts: 417
Loc: The final frontier

Posted: 1/24/2013 10:16:02 AM
I am so sorry for your loss.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 428,374
June 2009
Posts: 5,008
Layouts: 2
Loc: Greater London

Posted: 1/24/2013 10:25:40 AM
I have felt too choked to post on this thread earlier, but just wanted to send you all my best wishes and prayers. How wonderful that they had so many loving years together and were able to cuddle and kiss until the end. God bless you all.

It's not the passage of time that heals. It's what you do with that time.
Show/Hide Icons . Show/Hide Signatures
{{ title }}
{{ icon }}
{{ body }}
{{ footer }}