It’s his brother in law, they’ve known each other 60+ years, I feel horrible not being able to spend time with him and given Covid there is no way my father can attend the funeral. How do I break this to him?
The hard part is over.
I'm matching you with one of our specialists who will be calling you in the next few minutes.
A number of relatives have passed away since my mother went into a nursing home. She doesn't even remember my dad died less than two years ago, so I'm not going to burden her with the deaths of other relatives, too. I have a hard enough time convincing her that her best friend ISN'T dead. That realization makes happy, and that's what I aim for these days.
Even better is that when you do convince her that her friend is alive, it makes her happy! Your post brought a smile to my face too!
One died in 2007. She was 76, mom around 80, other sister 85. We were all together when my Aunt Elinore passed away. The other sister lived to be 93 and passed in 2011. By this time both my mom and this sister were in NH. The brother was still living and passed 2 yrs after my mom.
I travelled to NJ from MD to tell her in person about my Aunt Anna’s passing. Mom was 87. My mother still knew who her family was at that time. My mother was upset but, as was her norm being part of the Greatest Generation, she was naturally stoic. While I was there she pretty much coped with it herself in her own way. But I felt she needed to know as they were very close.
Break it to him gently. As others stated it depends on your dad’s mental acuity and memory of the person. If dad can’t remember him and you think it would really upset him, then don’t tell him. Just make sure no one else does as you’ll be the bad guy for not telling him.
Just because folks are elderly doesn’t mean they can’t handle grief. Their generation was strong plus they’d seen their parents die and some have weathered their spouses pass away. They are tougher than you think.
I hope this works out with the best outcome for him and you. It’s so difficult keeping a balance and not upsetting the Apple cart. But I knew my mom would have preferred to know so she could pray for her sister.
If we were only talking about an elder, I don't think anyone would be suggesting not to tell him. As long as cognitive abilities are mostly intact, then go for it, no matter what the topic is.
When we get into memory issues, it becomes a decision that has to be based on their ability to retain and process new information. In the earlier stages, it might sink in, they might remember, at least for a while. It isn't about how "tough" they might be, it's about retention and causing grief/pain over and over unnecessarily.)
My mother's dementia wasn't really very bad, just enough to need to be in a safe place, but otherwise she could still do a lot of self care, etc. However her memory was like a sieve - she could repeat the same statements, questions, etc over and over in a matter of minutes. Telling her something that might cause grief, but wouldn't be retained, might be attempted once, at that stage. IF she didn't retain it, I would see no point in repeating the bad news. She's beyond that point now. She has asked about her mother (gone 40+ years ago), father (when I was about 10), a sister (unsure how long ago she passed, but definitely several years, maybe as much as 10 years ago.) That discussion about her sister I can peg easily to be about 40 years ago as well, so to tell her now that her sister is dead would be cruel.
Again, it wouldn't be about toughness, but rather how much pain and grief I would subject her to, again and again and again. There's no need to put anyone through that multiple times, tough or not.
Good luck, Stay well,
If he has memory issues, he isn't going to remember anyway and it will just make him feel unnecessary pain.
However as you don’t indicate that your dad has dementia I am thinking that he would appreciate being treated as an adult. That comes with joys and sorrows and a lot of boredom at this time in his life.
I also think if he has other family or friends that call and speak with him that they may need him to share this loss with. It gives him an opportunity to live past experiences with this special friend he has known so long whether it’s on the phone or through cards and letters or photos of his friend.
A warm hug would be nice but not possible. Life goes on.
Yesterday was September 3. It was a childhood friends birthday. She died over twenty years ago and I spent a good portion of my evening looking at photos of her and her now grown children and marveling over the life she lived. I haven't thought of her in a long time.
A death can be a bittersweet time. Often a time of “laughter through tears” when we remember a person who meant a lot in our lives.
Calling others and saying “don’t tell dad” is like burying him before he’s gone ... to me.
You know your dad best.
I am only saying what I would do and have done with my elders.
If you decide not to tell him please make sure that all the other family members that might visit or talk to him are aware that is has not been told and that you wish to keep it that way.
How often does your dad either talk about or to his BIL? If they have not spoken in a long time, or if he has not mentioned him this may be a non issue.
If he does ask about him just say "Bob" is not feeling well right now, he will call when he feels better.
I would let the staff know so if somehow your dad finds out they can be on the look out for any changes in your dad.
My mom did not remember her parents (65 and 10 years ago), a sister (70 years ago) or my dad (50 years ago) passing. A couple times when she would want to call them I was truthful with her. Not anymore. Each time was like it was new information. The last time I tried to straighten her out (I am embarrassed to say I didn't know better) she got vert angry asking why nobody told her.
Do not tell him at all if he cannot process the information. If he can telling him onc is enough. Services? Of course not. If he asks about it simply tell him they will be later.
It will all depend on how far his Dementia has progressed. I may tell him once. If he wants to go to the funeral, tell him it was private. Little white lies are better sometimes.