sumlerc Asked October 2011

How do you tell your parents bad news?

Follow
Share

Hi everyone, I have 2 parents under NH care with frail mental function ( stroke related depression, high anxiety, mood swings and middle dementia) Within the last 3 mos, I have found out that my absentee, only and oldest sibling has stage 4 cancer and last week, she suffered a major stroke.
Her children are at her side at her home, but we all have agreed not to tell my parents. Sis has distant herself from her family many yrs ago, and now she is going down fast, I'm trying to prepare myself for the inevitable and telling my parents of her passing.

How in the world do I do this? My Sister left me alone to care for OUR parents and now I am alone once again. My Mom gets so on edge about the smallest things, I don't know how in the world she will deal with this. I wanted to take her to visit my Sis but Sis doesn't want visitors and is very snappy with her kids, she is in a lot of pain. Truthfully Mom can't make this trip because the 6 hr round trip ride and the visiting time would be too much on her, but my Niece is asking me to come visit which I will.
Unfortunately, it seems like the last time they saw their oldest daughter this past Aug will be the last time.
I don't like not sharing this important information with my Parents but I need the help of a Million people to tell them their child has passed when the time comes, If you can help please do.
Thank you.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
14

Answers

Show:
JaneB Nov 2011
sumlerc, my heart is with you all now. You have been a great sister and a great daughter, through really trying times. Sending you a hug....
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

sumlerc Nov 2011
Thank you all for supporting me through this. I know that some days may be harder, but I'm taking one baby step at a time. This week I will rest and rebuild myself. Have a great day everyone!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

golden23 Nov 2011
Hi momslife -if you check back a couple of posts to sumlerc's last post, her siister has died. You can read there what happened.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

momslife Nov 2011
What about your sister ; what does she think? maybe she can tell them or not tell them. depending how "off ' your parents are i may not even tell them, I know how upset my mother gets when there is a small problem in her life she cries..if i told her a death was apparent she would totally lose it.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

golden23 Nov 2011
((((((sumlerc))))) I am so sorry about your sister but glad you coul take your mum and that she had a good visit. It sounds like your mum and dad are coping as well as possible. I ost a son some yearsago and it is the most painful loss I have had. They may well feel more pain in a few months and need support. The first few months one tends to be numb. This may be true for you too. Take care(((((((hugs)))))))
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

sumlerc Nov 2011
My Sister has passed away and I had to go do the most hardest thing I've ever had to do...tell my Mom and Dad their oldest Child has passed. Two weeks ago, they were made aware that Sis had a major stroke, I'm so glad I was able to take mom to visit her, I'm so thankful mom;s vision wouldn't let her see sis, it would have broke her heart! Mom held her, prayed with her and told me on the way home that her heart was at peace and whatever happens, she will be alright. After hearing the final news, mom and dad said they had a feeling that Sis wouldn't make it.
Mom expressed great thanks for the trip to see her, they are both sad but says, shes with God now, we've done all we can do.
I never thought in my life time that I would be walking in these shoes, but there are some people who don't have feet.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

planeman Oct 2011
Is there really a gentle way to tell a person that their daughter has cancer? I suggest that the situation with the daughter should not even be brought up unless mom asks. There is nothing to be gained by worrying your mom even more.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Unless your parents ask about your sister, I wouldn't say anything. Break the news gently and in segments when they do ask. Start with the least of the bad news and see how well they take it. How well they respond is your signal of how much more you need to reveal. If you can, set up a conference call on the telephone with your sister and parents and you be there, too. Silently, in the back ground, but there. Take this in baby steps and stop immediately when your parents begin to show signs of resisting the truth of what's going on. Your sister has her family to care for her, so let the focus be on your parents.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

sumlerc Oct 2011
I agree, I made peace with my Sister when I found out 3 mos ago that she is terminally ill, I guess I fear not being strong enough to break the news to my Parents.

At this time, it would be cruel to burden them with this news but I know it will necessary to give the final report. I hate pretending with them that all is fine but I cannot bear them not knowing that the reason she isn't here this time is truly beacuse she can't come, not chose not to visit them.

While our relationship wiht my Sister has been strained, the communications lines have not been broken. Fortunately, Mom was able to talk to my Sister this past Saturday, Sister was in pain but managed to hold small talk for 5 mins. Mom heard a difference in her voice but at least she heard her voice.

I try not to dwell on it, trying to figure out the logistics of getting them 3 hrs away to pay final respects. Dad is wheelchair/bed bound and totally incontinent and kowing him, he will choose to pay his respects in his personal way. But Mom....she will want to be there and likely need to be sedated and I mean that in no harmful way.

For the sake of my adult Nieces, I will visit them and my Sister this weekend and perhaps see if there are any loving parting words my Sister would like to leave for the family, in particular our parents.

It's a beautiful fall morning, for now I will concentrate on the beauty of the day, tomorrow takes care of itself...with or without me. Plus I really don't like thinking too much about someone eles's mortality, what will be, will be.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

jeannegibbs Oct 2011
What do your parents need to know? Why?

Do they need to know that their daughter is very sick -- that she is dying? They can do nothing about it. If there is an estrangement and knowing this fact might help bring about a reconciliation, then there may be some benefit to knowing. Other than that, I think it would simply be distressing. Stronger people might appreciate some time to get used to the idea, to grieve, to say goodbyes. But people who are mentally frail may not be able to process the bad news in a helpful or meaningful way. Encouraging your parents to write to your sister would be a kindness.

Do they need to know when their daughter dies? Probably. Otherwise you will be in the uncomfortable position of continuously lying when the subject comes up. Do your parents practice a religion? Would it be helpful to have a clergy person with you when you break the news? Might the social worker at the NH have some experience to share with you?

You have advance warning. Use the time to make your own peace with what is happening. Perhaps reach out to your sister, in writing, if that seems appropriate. It will probably help you break the news to your parents if you have dealt with your own issues and grief first.

I'm sorry you are facing this difficult challenge. Do the best you can, in love.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.

Related
Articles

Related
Questions