Should I tell Mom about her son?


I just found out my youngest brother has stage four liver cancer. He has known about the diagnosis since April, but has not said a word to anyone except his employer and church. He is now on FMLA and eventually to disability, if he lives that long. He is 58. My oldest brother and I are struggling with whether or not we should tell our Mother who is 85 and has early dementia. It will kill her. Not only emotionally, but she will worry herself into an early grave if she outlives him. My older brother thinks we should go ahead and tell her. I’m wondering what purpose could it serve at this point? I want to tell her and I don’t. This is not easy.



Your youngest brother chose to tell his employer and church only.  Now you know.  It is his right to tell her himself about his own health.

If your mother and he have a good relationship, take him to see her. If she is cognizant of him, she will see that he is sick. Or, unaware, the visit might go well. A mother will always want to know about her children and grandchildren. There is no need imo to inform her or anyone of his prognosis. One can say, Yes Mom, I have been ill, but getting treatment. How are you now Mom? The important thing is that they see each other. Imo.

Princessblue,  your love and concern for all involved will guide you.  Keeping him away from her would hurt her more, imo.  Thank you for coming here to ask your question.  I am answering from a position of advocacy for the elder' s dignity, when they are still the same person but with challenges.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Sendhelp

Why tell her? She will repeatedly forget and then remember. She will suffer every single time. Just avoid the subject.

It seems to me that your younger brother does not want fuss or the worry his/your mother would get from being told?

As cwillie says how good is her memory? If she is cognisant then by all means but it will be extremely painful and might 'stick in her head' all the time. I do hope it does not.

Hard decision. What ever you decide will be the right one.
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Reply to BuzzyBee

What does youngest brother want? And how advanced is her ALZ? I think this is the kind of news that nobody wants to deliver to any parent, even one without dementia, if she is still fairly cognizant then I think she has a right to know, especially if she would miss him. But, you know her better than I do.
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Reply to cwillie

I vote no. Memory loss means she will remember part of the story and it will have to be repeated over and over. AND with each retelling, your Mom will go through the horror and grief. Hopefully, your brother will be able to visit during this time. When he is no longer able to do so, have a plausible excuse ready should Mom inquire. I used to tell my Mom that Dad was at a committee meeting for the fraternal organization he belonged to. (He had been gone 33 years by this time. ) She was happy with that.
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Reply to geewiz

There is no reason to tell her. Even early Dementia they tend to forget.
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Reply to JoAnn29