My Mother just passed, should I tell my Father? - AgingCare.com

My Mother just passed, should I tell my Father?

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He wont remember I fear and will have to be told over and over.

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Hi Marguerite,
I'm sorry about your mother and also very sympathetic about your circumstances. In a few words, my feelings are that you tell your father once, then begin to dissemble. This way you are respecting the marriage without causing him undue pain. You may want to read more in this article:
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/telling-someone-with-dementia-their-spouse-died-133806.htm

Take care,
Carol
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My sympathies on the loss of your mom.

Tell him once if you feel you need to tell him but once you do you can't un-tell him. Does he obsess? Will he obsess over your mom's death? You know him best. It's hard to say not knowing how advanced his dementia is. Does he ask where your mom is? If he doesn't inquire as to where she is not telling him may be the kindest thing you can do. You don't want to get in the position of having to tell him over and over, as you said. So take his dementia into account, how it's affected him, and make your decision. If he will forget 2 minutes later tell him, let him absorb that information. If he forgets 2 minutes later you don't need to tell him again. Make your decision based upon how his dementia has affected him. How does he handle information now?

Making the decision to not tell him is fine. When our loved ones have dementia or Alzheimer's we have to crawl into their world to get to them. In his world how will the death of his wife affect him?

It's a difficult choice to make and just one more horrible situation we have to deal with when caring for a parent with Alzheimer's or dementia. But I think you'll make the right choice.
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I agree with Eyerishlass. My mother actually witnessed my father passing away this past February (held his hand and everything) and she had no idea what happened. It was a hectic couple of days with the family coming over, the viewing, and the funeral and she did show sadness when others did at times. Sweetest thing ever was when they were playing some cd's of my father singing at the funeral and she was sitting in the front row singing along. My one brother told her a couple of days later that he had passed and she was sad for awhile and then forgot again. She looked at sympathy cards off and on for about a week with only the occasional sobbing. It will be 7 months tomorrow and she still thinks he is coming to pick her up at our house every day. If someone close was to pass away tomorrow I know we could tell her and she would forget but some do obsess over sad things and then that's all they focus on.
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I am sorry for your loss. I have watched people discover over and over again that a loved one has died for what for them was the first time and it is tragic. My suggestion would be to cave the conversation one time after that I would avoid a direct answer, distracting and sending the conversation in another direction.
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My father in law passed away over 15 years ago. My mother in law was well aware at that time. She has been living with us and for the past two years she has forgotten. Some of the things we have experienced: She wonders why he is always gone, or what he is doing, suggesting that he is no good (he was a great husband), she gets mad at him. She calls for him now daily. She will ask where he is 4 times within 4 minutes. She wonders why he won't sleep with her, when he is coming home, etc.
What we have done: Reminded, and it was harder at first as she would be sad all over, or she would deny "HE IS MY HUSBAND, I WOULD KNOW, HE ISN'T DEAD", We got a photo of his headstone and that helped her to understand (it also has engraving for her place), Now she forgets and my ask 4 times within 2 minutes, even after answered and accepting the answer--her short term is just that short.
Strategies I use, if she is asking where they or he is or when they are coming home, a say something like "maybe they are scouting a hunting spot--deer season is soon", or "he has lots of work to do on the farm and in the summer I expect that they will work til dark", "He is down in ______ (city where he is buried)."
To paraphase: Be patient, compassionate, empathetic, creative, truthful, re-assuring.
It does help that she believes in Life after Death, in Heaven, and that she will be with him again someday. Because she asks again within 30 seconds does not always mean she needs a different answer, it just simply means she forgot she asked and she forgot the answer.
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Part of me wants to let him know, because he's entitled to it. The other part is afraid of how he'll react to the news. Alz/dementia notwithstanding, there's no doubt it'll be painful if he still has vivid recollections of the love of his life. And even if the memories are vague, he'll sense there's something missing in his life.

Seek some advice from the NH staff, as I'm sure they've gone through these situations before and can give you some pointers.

You want to spare him the pain, but the last thing I'd do is sugarcoat the loss. Or lie to him. He doesn't deserve it, and he'll look in your eyes and know you're holding something back.

This is one of those situations when total honesty might not be the best policy, but then again when you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. All least you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that you tried to do the right thing. Even if it hurts.
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I experienced something like this in my husband's family several years ago. My MIL was in the beginning stages of ALZ when her oldest son died. He was living in their home and died in his bed. She grieved as they removed his body from the house and for a few hours after. Then she shut down and forgot. As we went through the funeral and viewing, she enjoyed all the people and attention but didn't seem to remember what it was about. Once or twice, she recognized him in the coffin and was clearly upset. For the most part, the neighbors and family were having a hard time dealing with her reaction. After the funeral, she never spoke his name again and he was her favorite child. I think every ALZ/dementia patient has their own way of coping with information of that nature. And I have always felt that she knew he was gone on a very deep level.

This doesn't really answer your question, but I hope it adds a little to the knowledge of how complex this disease of mental deterioration is.
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First of all, my condolences to you and your family. Second, since you claim that your father is forgetful and that he would have to be told over and over, my suggestion is to not bring it up anymore unless he questions it first.
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perhaps telling your parent of the passing wiill help bring closure to you for her. She may or may not remember, but do the kind thing for her. This will determine how she responds to your telling her.
Portday
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I truly believe that couples married a long time know somehow when their spouse has passed. Even if you don't tell him, he will see it in your eyes. Tell him she has gone to heaven and is waiting for him there. Yes he will ask about it several times, but gently repeat the answer, it takes time to sink in.
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