I know this issue has been explored before on this website, and I know intellectually that the answer is, probably, no. I just want to get other people's experiences and opinions to back my decision.

My mom has not been coping well at all with my dad's death two years ago come August 23rd. I found out through my cousin that mom's sister, whom she rarely calls because she can't hear on the phone and doesn't know what to say, has lung cancer that spread to her liver and has only a few weeks to live. She will be receiving hospice/palliative care at home.

Mom's condition has deteriorated significantly over the last few months, and I made the mistake of taking out dad's bed to give her more room, and put down a carpet to fill the extra space. She agreed at first, but since then she has been waking up not knowing where she is, who she is, what room she is in; and every time she goes into the room she gets a shock and a bad feeling. She fell out of bed one morning and bruised the side of her face near the eye, but didn't lose consciousness. Now I wish I had gotten her checked out. Her world was turned upside down when my brother wanted my sister to drive us out to his new house, about 3 hours away. Throughout the drive, she had no idea where she was going, thought she was going to see my brother in the hospital, claimed no one told her we were going to my brother's place, this is a long way to come for groceries, thought we lived in Liverpool and we would be travelling to the train station. She doesn't have the strength to support her body weight and gets breathless and feels like she's going to "drop" when she does any physical exertion. I have an appointment with her g.p. this coming week to make sure she doesn't have a urinary tract infection. However, I believe it is the progression of the disease.

My sister and brother agree that it would be cruel to tell mom that her sister is dying, since she would not be able to cognitively understand what's happening and has not seen her sister for many years. I'm wondering if, on some level, she senses what is happening and that's why she's feeling more anxious and unsettled. On the other hand, what about her right to know a member of her family has died? Although there is no way she would come across that information except accidentally. She still thinks dad is in the room and she's seen him and talked to him but she says she can't see his face. Hallucinations or spirit - who am I to say?

The way I see it, if she can't remember that she just had lunch/dinner; if she is now having trouble recognizing common surroundings (even the living room looked strange to her and she asks have we always lived her, or will think we just moved); if she can't deal with change and the loss of her husband; has unresolved grief over multiple losses as early as childhood; then I don't think I would be doing her any good by telling her that her sister is dying.

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I see no reason whatsoever for telling her information (a) that could upset her greatly if she understands it (b) may cause confusion as to who it is who is actuayll dying or (c) may be forgotten.

She has enough to deal with now.
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Agree with GA. Even if she understands there is nothing she can do about it and no way she can go to see her. Can you put dad's bed back? Or another bed but similar coverings? It maybe every time she goes into the room she has a terrible feeling. We are told we should leave everything the same when dealing with someone with dementia. As she is seeing and talking to Dad thinking he is still in his bed in the room may be comforting. I know many people leave a loved one's room undisturbed. It is something to hang on to. It may not be healthy as people become stuck in that stage of grief but in mom's case she no longer has the reasoning power to move on. Hallucination or spirit? It does not matter validate what she is telling you. Let her talk to you about it, treat it as normal. It is very real to her. The same with her previous losses, she needs to talk about them you are her therapist. Let her let it all out. She needs to do that to get closure. it may be painful for you to hear about things that happened in her past but it is part of her healing process and can no longer be suppressed. She is kind of tidying up her life as she prepares to leave this world.It is the loving thing to do. if you feel it would be helpful ask a minister to call but only one she knows and trusts, no strangers at this stage.
Don't be afraid to talk to her about Dad. Ask her if he was there last night and what he had to say. This is now her reality and in a way it is a privilege that you can share it. Blessings
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I wouldn't tell her - it won't do her any good since she can't go visit her sister. It would only cause her more pain. For what? So just listen to her and put a bed back if you can...and let her talk about your dad and his visits to her.
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My mom is 96, in a nursing home, with dementia. She cannot stand but we were able to make arrangements to get her to her sister's 100th BD celebration. When that sister died a few months later we did not tell her and did not try to get her to the funeral. She has good memories of her sister. We saw/see no point in giving her a sad experience she would not be able to process.

If she didn't have dementia, if she were still "in her right mind" my view might be different. As it is, telling mom that her sister died would serve no purpose.
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Hello, all, thank you for your perspective, which coincides with mine. I now feel confident I have made the right decision.

I ask her questions about her visits to dad and don't shy away from it. She also talks about wishing she could see her mom and dad again, and I reassure her that in another few years she'll be with them again forever. She seems to be going through a stage where she wants her mom and dad. Interestingly, when she tries to see my dad's face it is replaced by her dad's face.

She has talked throughout her life about the eventual death of her sister following an abduction and assault, as well as her mother's death, whom she witnessed in her teenage years. However, it seems that no matter how much she let out her feelings, talked about it, reframed it, whatever, she was stuck in that mental groove. I am so concerned about her deep rooted anger and depression, but that is obviously not my cross to bear, as often as I've tried to help her resolve it.

Once again, thanks everyone.
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