I, too, faced this dilemma, and ulimately chose to handle it in a different way. Dad was in a nursing home with Alzeheimer's and Mom had just moved in with us, but had to be hospitalized almost immediately. She had been very ill for most of my 50 years, so when she chose to terminate her dialysis, we knew the end was near. Before she died she asked to see Dad, so I took him to the hospital and both of them were animated and carried on a wonderful discussion, something that Dad had not been able to do for almost a year (there truly is a God). When Mom died, I took Dad to the funeral home and on my next visit he asked where Mom was. I reminded him that she had died and he began the grieving process all over again. This happened several times until I finally decided that my honesty created an emotional abuse for Dad; so the next time that he asked about Mom, my response was. "She's doing about the same as last time", which satisified him sufficiently that I used that line every time that he asked. He rapidly slipped back into his disease induced oblivion and stayed that way until he died many months later. Was I wrong to evade the whole truth, I think not. I have retionalized this issue many times over the last ten years and am satisfied that I did the humane thing for Dad, in spite of the guilt I felt for not being completely honest with him.

While this may not be in accord with the accepted or preferred practice, I felt that, in his condition (somewhere between his memory of Mom, his realization that she didn't come to visit any more, and his rapidly failing memory of her) I chose the high road.

I hope that this does not confuse the issue any more than it already is, but I felt the need to express that there is two sides to these troubling issues and thought that you should hear the other side. I am glad that Ms. Bursack handled her situation as she did because it apparently was the best option in her situation, but I think that there is no clear cut simple answer to this very emotional and trying question.

Steve Shetter

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
Steve, you told him the first time and did what was necessary. Then, you handled it with your gut and were right on. Each situation is different, and there is a point where repeating it does begin to seem like (be?) emotional abuse. I do think they have right to know when a spouse dies, and if possible, attend the funeral. After that, you have to play it by ear. They may be more comfortable in denial, or they may feel they are close to their spouse even though their spouse has died. (How do we know they aren't?). You did well.

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter