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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?

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Make a video tape and give it to staff so he can see and hear your voice. Then request, most staff will, that they video him so you can see that he is okay. These will later be later precious moments for you as well. I personally, gave my mom a phone that staff helped her with so we could face time at specific times. Take care
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Reply to tgroesbeck
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Agree with those who say base your decision on multiple factors:

1) 60+yr connection, but were they really close?
2) memory issues - does he retain anything you tell him?
3) likelihood someone else might spill the beans?

1) If they were really close, that makes for a tougher decision. However, if he isn't talking about or asking about him, it might be better not to spring this news on him.
2) If he retains most information from discussions, etc, perhaps if he is asking about him, he can handle it. If he doesn't remember discussions (next day, next hour, next minute), then I wouldn't tell him. Pain and grief at losing him, but then have to do it again and again? Nope.
3) Is there anyone else who contacts him who might tell him? You might want to ensure everyone's on board with your decision as to whether or not dad should be told.

Early stages of dementia, generally they can understand and perhaps retain the information. Short term memory is usually the first to go, so this is where it is important to know what your LO does/doesn't retain. Knowing my mother was repeating questions, answers, statements, etc over and over in a short time (minutes, maybe hours or a day, but what tipped me off was repeating herself multiple times while on one phone call), I generally wouldn't tell her something like that. I think it was during her first year I heard about one cousin passing. I did tell her and she got angry that "no one told her", except I just did!

She is the last of her gen, so no new bad news to break to her, BUT, she is currently living the life she had about 40+ years ago, so I have to tread lightly. When she brings up those long gone, like her mother (40+ years gone), her father (when I was 10!!), siblings (comments about 1 sister I can peg to 40+ years ago as well), I have to fudge my way around them. I will not subject her to pain and grief over and over and over again!

So, you know your dad and his relationship with this BIL best. Since there really isn't anything anyone can do, don't tell him unless you absolutely have to, and assess his reaction, both at the telling time and later. If he doesn't retain the info, don't subject him to it a second (or further) time. Be there for him if you do tell him and he reaches out to you, phone, video, maybe they have outdoor visits? Obviously even with most outdoor visits, we still have to maintain masks and distance, so you can't hug him... Me personally, I would likely avoid the topic.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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I tend to agree with many others that have posted. Don’t feel it is wrong not to tell him.

Nothing is the same since Covid. You can’t tell your dad in person. As you said, he can’t possibly attend the funeral and he will be sad about that. It may not make sense to say anything right now.

I do understand that this is upsetting. When you send a sympathy card you can include his name and if you get the chance to tell him later on then you can tell him that you offered condolences from him along with yourself.

If he hears about it from another relative and becomes upset then you can be honest and tell him that you were concerned about how to deliver the news to him.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Lots of great ideas here! I don’t know if they were close or if your Dad has memory issues. Anyway, since he can’t do anything and since you can’t be with him, it makes no sense to tell him now. Perhaps we will actually have a reliable vaccine or medicines in a few months and you will be able to visit in person and decide then if you should tell him. Sorry for your loss.
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Reply to KathleenQ
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Imho, what real purpose would it serve to tell him that his brother in law passed away? It may just make him think on it IF he were to know the truth, especially since he can't attend the funeral. Prayers sent and I am sorry for your loss.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Why give him information that can only give him pain? It doesn't need doing, there is nothing to be done.
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Reply to TheBiographer
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Hi CGCByrne,
I'm sorry for the loss of your family member. I know the loss is hard for you, too, as your father's deep relationships are important.
This is how I see things, right now (I'm always modifying my perspective as I learn and grow).
1. Consider your goal - the health and happiness of yourself!
2. Consider the goal - the health and happiness of your father.
I deliberately put "you" first. Obviously, there are others in your life you think about, but you must consider your own needs first in order to make good decisions for others.
So, my first advice is to you. You need someone to talk to- someone you can say anything to- someone you can say what you'd like to say to your Dad. Because, your need to share will continue. His ability to receive news, react in a way that confirms you did the right thing will be more and more murky as time goes by and by the way- there is no wrong and no right answer. It's what's right for you. There are so many opportunities to get counseling in this pandemic. It helps, because it's objective and not personal to your family/friends. This is a good forum too, but I like talking to someone who lets me figure it out, by the guidance a professional provides. It's a hard road to care for someone with dementia. I've been full-time 4 years. (lost Dad, now with Mom)
2. about your Dad- I'd first ask the staff where he lives. They have more interaction with him. They know him differently. They may be arranging times for residents to talk. Obviously, they have all experienced loss, lately. Sometimes a death brings about great stories of life. The "missing" will not linger like it does for us. Your dad, at whatever stage he is in, is spending more time trying to "understand his understanding". That never goes away. There is always a "wondering" in some form or the other, whether it's verbalized or not.
The main thing is you have make that call , yourself. Does he ask about his brother-in-law? Did they talk since he's been in AL? Does it matter that he knows? Will knowing be hard on his health now? Will he understand?

Usually, it's "us" that need to process the loss. "They" need our kindness and our love- our little stories of times we shared. Pictures of ball parks and butterflies....

My best you!
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Reply to tggator
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You are going to get opinions from both sides of the fence on this one.  Half are going to advise you not to tell him and the other half will advise you not to "lie" about it and say that you must tell him.  I am on the side that says don't do it.  You didn't mention what stage of dementia your dad is in, but there comes a point when their emotions are gone.  We chose not to tell my mom about her granddaughter overdosing, but a couple of years after that, my grandmother passed...my mom's mom.  We did tell her about that and took her out of state for the funeral.  Mom did not cry or really connect with the fact that her mom had died. She kept asking me why we were in a hotel.  It was a blessing that she was not distraught, but it was really sad to me too.

Our family members are so isolated in these assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  Do you really want to give him that kind of news only for him to be alone in his apartment to deal with it.  I wouldn't share the news if it were me.
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Reply to Jamesj
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I’m going thru ALZ with my mom too ... I know it’s hard but don’t tell him .

During this lockup we have been in for 6 months , an over the phone announcement to him may just agitate him .

Prayers and Sympathy to your family
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Reply to Ginna011
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My mom had Alzheimer’s and when her brother passed away we told her. It was so difficult right when she heard the news however, after she found about it. If anyone expressed their sympathy my mother took it as if she was hearing the news for the first time. It advised everyone not to bring it up. I suggest not telling him as he will forget quickly. It just broke my heart to see my mom get so upset. Better yet I wouldn’t mention it at all. It will only break his heart. Also when my mom would ask about her brother I would say “He’s doing good, Mom” and she’d smile.
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Reply to rufus67
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I just went through this with my uncle in ALF. I found out that his cousin's son died suddenly of a heart attack in his 50s. I thought my uncle would be able to understand that news, but it did not go well. It took him a while to process who this person was who died (he hasn't seen him in a very long time.) He got confused and thought it was his actual cousin who died (who has a similar name) He got very disturbed and confused. He kept calling me back asking me who this was who died. Finally, I think he came to understand who it was. I think, I'm learning that my uncle's memory loss has progressed more than I knew. The other thing I know is that any kind of upset or stress seems to make things worse and he gets much more confused than normal.

I probably should never have told him.
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Reply to Helperson132
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Personally, having had a husband with demential/ALZ, I wouldn't tell him. He won't remember, unless he is early stages. My husband's 40 yr old niece died a tragic death and when I told him, he didn't say much, said "who's that". I explained she was his sister's daughter. His answer, Oh. This was about his 7th/8th year of dementia, so pretty far gone. He had only seen her twice, as we all lived States apart. Later on, when visits resume at the facility, and talking, maybe about family, you can give him the news, albeit old, but if he doesn't seem to comprehend, understand it is the dementia.
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Reply to JoAnne80
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I wouldn't tell him.
If he has memory issues, he isn't going to remember anyway and it will just make him feel unnecessary pain.
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Reply to bevthegreat
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Depending on how advanced your father is with his mental problems, why bother telling him.  It might only upset him more.  IF he asks you how the brother-in-law is doing, tell him he is doing okay.  In truth (excuse this remark) he is, he is no longer in pain, and no worries.  he is fine with His maker in heaven........so you really wouldn't be lying.......just saying he is okay is good enough.  We never told my father about different family members that passed because we knew it would be stressful and upsetting.  And why put that extra burden on him.  Wishing you luck.
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Reply to wolflover451
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sister46 Sep 8, 2020
You're right on. I went through this with my Alz husband. They get to where they don't know and don't care who died!
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If you feel dad's mental health is stable and he can handle it try telling him the BIL is very ill first. If you want to share he has passed on it is possible to share the funeral via Zoom. A lot of church congregations use this or ask someone to video for your dad. Its your call.
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Reply to InFamilyService
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I would wait to tell him until you are able to do it face to face. You may decide to not tell him at all based on his state of mind
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Reply to Peggy52
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It's your call, but however it is less stress if you dont tell him. Just right after Christmas last year my grandma's cousin past away and we didn't tell her, because she has Alzheimer's and it would maker her more stressed. The less they know the Easier it is for caregivers to take care of them.
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Reply to PussJr
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Don't tell him. He won't remember, and you'll have to tell him again, and again, and again... It's a never-ending cycle of pain. Or he won't remember who it is.
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Reply to SFdaughter
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Have to have to agree with Grandma 1954. It really depends on what stage of memory care your loved one is in. The greatest generation certainly can cope with grief if it's necessary, but it will depend on how much your loved one remembers their relative.
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Reply to geddyupgo
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Sorry for your loss. Don’t tell him. Since he has memory loss, he probably won’t understand. Also it might send him in a spiral and worsen his condition. When I was a toddler my uncle (my dad’s brother) passed away and my parents decided not to tell my grandmother because it would have killed her off instantly.
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Reply to Zsb415
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I had this problem with 3 of my mom's relatives. I did what I thought was best for mom as the relatives lived in Holland and travel would have been impossible. I told mom that they were in the hospital and not well. All 3 had died of Covid-19 and over a 2 week period. Mom has never asked about them.
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Reply to Butterfly72
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Depending on your State, I doubt there will be funeral as such. May just be immediate family at graveside.

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.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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InFamilyService Sep 8, 2020
My dad passed in June and in Florida we were only able to have 20 people attend.
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When my mother had Alzheimer's, she was advanced and had very little cognizant memory. So when two of her 5 children passed away (my siblings), we, in concert with her physician suggested we not tell her, as it would not add anything to her life/memory and perhaps be a negative memory (if any).

Good luck, Stay well,

Bob
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Reply to Bearly
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My sister in law is in a nursing home. My husband, her younger brother, died a year ago and we have had no reason to tell her. She is in south Florida and I am in N Alabama. My children, grown of course, have been to see her but never had to lie and never told her that her brother died. There is no need to tell her and it will only sadden her.
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Reply to sondraO
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Dad has memory issues? How advanced are his memory issues? How long is he able to retain information? Can he understand and reason with every day things?

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.
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Reply to gladimhere
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gladimhere Sep 6, 2020
Covid makes it difficult. No visits, etc. No need to say anything about it now. Just wait, until later if at all!
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My mom was one of 11 children; by the turn of the millennium 4 were left. My mother “hung out” with her 2 sisters; another brother lived in another state. These 3 sisters went everywhere together - Mass, Flea Markets, McDonald’s, stayed at each other’s homes, etc. They had lots of fun together.

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.
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Reply to Shane1124
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disgustedtoo Sep 11, 2020
"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."

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.
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Does your dad remember tomorrow things you told him today? If not, don't tell him. Every time you have to remind him the BIL has died will be like the first time, and that can be devastating.

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.
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Reply to MJ1929
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disgustedtoo Sep 11, 2020
First time for everything! Funny that you have to convince her that her friend is ALIVE, not dead! Usually it is telling or avoiding telling someone that another has passed on that is the issue!

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!
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This is a hard situation and I feel for you. Naturally you would want to visit and stay with your dad after delivering such sad news and you aren’t able to.
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.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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I so agree with Grandma1954. Your decision should be based upon the CURRENT connection of your Dad and the BIL. Does he ask after him often; or does he just mention him ongoing in reminiscing about the past? If it comes to his someday saying "Why don't I HEAR from Earl?" you can tell him of the passing, and tell him that you hadn't wished to bring it up in the middle of all the chaos dealing with Covid-19, that there was no way he could have traveled to nor attended a service, and that you thought to spare him, whether or not it was a good decision. I would be guided by how good your Dad's mentation is. If it is good, then he recognizes now more than ever that we do lose people, and while he may be sad (it is WORTH being sad) he cannot attend services in any case. You will know I think which way to go, and I don't see it as a "right way" or a "wrong way". I always believe that for the most part, no matter their condition, people have the dignity and right to our honesty, but there are times that "not going there" is sparing.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Depending on how much he understands and RETAINS should be the determining factor in the decision to tell him or not.
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.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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