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Her daughter has been fighting lymphoma & acutely ill past 6months. She and family left for NM over 35+ years and lived well with trips home to visit regularly. Mom has been longing to see her daughter and the visit didn't happen 2016. She spoke with her last week.. Her daughter was close to her heart but too far away. Mom knows of her illness but forgets and we do keep telling her how serious and that her recovery is not going to happen. Just yesterday I told her that all was not good and Carolyn wasn't eating .My husband is Carolyn's sister and we are heartbroken. We live across the way from mom and we are her caregiveers and only family here at home. What to say what to do . Need some input . God give us all strength.

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My mom has MCI which has mostly impacted short term memory. I often need to tell her something several times before she remembers it. When her brother and sister died last year, my aunt and I both called and spoke with her at length about each death, arrangements, etc. She was still surprised when she saw the obituary in the newspaper. We attended the funerals and burials. A couple of days after one, she asked me if her sister had died and I confirmed it. She has never asked me again and usually speaks of her siblings as having passed on. My advise would be to tell your MIL about her daughter's death. If she cannot attend the funeral, provide her with the memorial card and some pictures of the events. If she doesn't seem to process and retain the information after a few days, then I would stop. At that point, the MIL not knowing/realizing her daughter is dead is _your_ problem, not hers. My mother lives with me now and although her memory problems are frustrating at times I have come to realize that many of the real problems are mine. Mom wants to load the dishwasher, put dishes away, etc. and she doesn't always do things the way I would like and cannot easily remember some stuff (like how to turn some bowls so they wash clean or which pots are stacked) but I have come to realize that is _my_ problem. I don't try to get Mom to do things my preferred way anymore. I'm thankful she is still able to do so much and I thank her for her help and quietly reload or rearrange stuff when needed. When something (big or small) like this comes up, I ask myself does Mom really _need_ to know this to continue living well and be content? Or do I want her to remember this so I can feel better? I don't hide anything from Mom, but if she doesn't retain it and she doesn't really need to know it, then I just drop it. If she needs to know it, then I write it down so she can remind herself a few times and eventually she remembers it. My challenge is to answer Mom's questions with the same attitude on the 10th time as the 1st and to listen the same stories from her life repeating every couple of days. I cannot solve her memory issues, but I can be there and listen with respect and love.
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I had a similar situation but reversed. My wife has alzheimer's and in Memory Care and her Mom was in the same facility but in assisted Living. Her Mom died a couple of Months ago at age 96. I was able to take my wife to see her Mom as she was slowly fading away but she did not comprehend what was going on. The day she passed I told my wife that her Mom was moving back to her home town to be with her Dad (he died 20 years ago). She just said "Oh". Hospice told me it was probably good that she did not understand and would not have to grieve. It was harder on me as I wanted her to know but I just let go. She does not ask about her Mom. It is a tuff decision as to what you need to do but I would base it on her cognitive ability and if you tell her be prepared for the grieving. My Mother in law kept saying to me that a parent should not out live their child so your Mom may grieve because of that feeling. If my Mother in law had died a year earlier my wife would have understood and I would have said that she passed.
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If she has any type of dementia please do not tell her over and over that her daughter has died.
You can tell her that she can not talk on the phone now, she is at a doctor appointment, she is sleeping or some other phrase.
To keep telling her that her daughter has died will cause her to feel the death as new each time and she will again be heartbroken.

So once you tell her do not tell her again. This will satisfy your feeling that you must tell her and it will remove heartbreak and sadness by not repeating the news.
You will learn how to redirect her questions, ask her to tell you stories about her daughter and her son when they were young. (You just might learn some interesting facts about your husband.)
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Even though she may forget, I do believe she has the right to be told. Is mom religious? It may help to have her spiritual leader with you when you break the news to offer comfort and support. I don't think there is any easy way to break such sad news.
And I'm sorry for your loss.
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My Mother has Alzheimer's too but she does sometimes retain what she is told. When one of my brothers died she was told and she grieved all day and she told everyone at the longterm care center she lives at, the only one that could console her was my Dad. So when we talk about Frank's death she accepts it and doesn't get upset anymore. Some things they do remember! So tell her but be there to hold her hand afterwards!
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I would not mention anyone's death, or any bad news, to my mom or anyone else with dementia or any kind of moderate cognitive impairment. You just don't know what snippet of information she will remember and dwell on. My mom knows I'm her daughter, and I'm 51, but she often thinks she's still in college or high school. So when she says she wants to call my Dad, who died in 2001, about 7 years before my mom's decline, or her parents who died in the 1980s , I tell her dad is working late, or up in NJ fixing his sister's car, something she can relate to because it was normal at that time. As for her parents, or my deceased brother, I say that they live in Florida, and will be up to visit in the summer, which was also normal for her to hear at one time. She can only live with what her messed up brain gives her, so I want all of her minutes and hours and days to be stress-free, peaceful and happy. She still laughs a lot, even though she is bedridden, and has to be diapered and spoon fed, so I praise God every day for that.
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This is a situation where you are going to have to go with gut instinct. MIL may very likely not be put off forever--she should be told, and then see what happens. If she and her daughter were truly very close, she may just sense that she's not here anymore. It's heartbreaking to lose a child--at any age!

Many things we simply don't tell Mother. She has mild dementia, but definitely lives in her own reality. She doesn't know (and never will) that 2 of her grandsons are gay or that her beloved (now deceased son) was in and out of jail much of his adult life. Why make her declining years ones she can't handle?

As far as a death--we did tell her when my brother died, and she did get to the hospital to see him (he was on full life support for 3 days)..but she didn't get to talk to him. Now, it's like it didn't happen. She adored him, but she rarely speaks of him. They were NOT close, so maybe that made it easier.

I wish you luck in this. But you may find she has more strength than you think. AT 96, she is staring down death everyday. It may "help" her to know she has somebody waiting on the other side. Please let us know how this goes--more than one person here has a similar dynamic going on.
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You say that your mom knew of her daughter's illness, but, forgets and you have to keep reminding her of that fact. I would wonder if the same would be true of her daughter's death. If she is going to keep forgetting and you would have to keep reminding her, to me, that sounds cruel, since she will not be able to process the grief as a person without dementia would. It seems like it would be a terrible heartbreak every time she is reminded.

I think it depends on her mental ability and what she can process. If she's not able to process it, then I don't see how it helps her. Being told, doesn't mean that she would retain the knowledge. It's a personal decision, but, with my LO, I only give her good news. Bad news would upset her and she no longer has the coping skills to console herself. Plus, she would forget it soon after, so there is no point to it.
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If Mom's cognitive ability is still there and able to process, I would tell her. She will continue to ask and then it becomes a lie. If she 'just' spoke to her last week, she will expect to speak to her again soon. If you decide to tell her, make sure the environment is warm and comforting and both are sitting down. Hold her hands while giving the news and yes, if she has a favorite priest or church member or friend she gets comfort from, invite them and let them know what you are trying to do. All the best to you and so sorry for your loss.
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I agree, it may be best not to mention it. If she keeps forgetting, and you have told her several times. At her age especially. I'm sorry about the situation, hang in there.
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