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What should we tell our 6 y/o son about his grandfather who is dying?

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My fil has had lung cancer for a little over 3 years now and unfortunately, I think his time with us is coming to an end.


He has been through many treatments over the years and always maintained a positive attitude and was still raring to go whenever we saw him. Yesterday he attended Thanksgiving and he looked awful. He has started a new chemo treatment and he has just wasted away. He was in pain, he couldn't really talk much, he could hardly walk, I saw him doing things that led me to believe that he also thinks his life may be coming to an end. Honestly, I'll be surprised if he makes it to Christmas. I really thought I might get a call this morning saying he was gone...that's how grave he appeared yesterday.


My son is 6 years old and does not have a close relationship with him, but he knows that he is his Grandpa and he sees him on holidays, etc.


When we got home last night, my son had tears in his eyes when he said, "I'm very worried about Papa", and I told him that he is very sick and the doctors are trying to help him get better. I told him some things that we can do such as write letters of love and support and maybe we could go to visit him and bring him special treats, etc. I didn't know what else to say.


Should I warn him that he's going to die? Should I just wait until he dies and then tell him at that time?


My husband thinks that we should warn him and tell him ahead of time so that it won't be a shock, but I'm not sure. Either way, I know that he's going to be very upset. He gets upset just thinking about anyone dying and this will be the first time that someone he knows will die.


All opinions are welcome!

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I'm sorry that you are going throught this.


It sounds like you have a sensitive boy and that would make me want to tell him. You have already told him that Grandpa is sick and going to the doctor, but I think that you will probably want to make the connection to let him know that there may not be much time left. I don't know your religious views, but would *personally* explain that when Grandpa does die, he won't be sick anymore.

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I would tell him that he's been battling the cancer for three years and that some of the treatments that were available helped, but that this time his body isn't responding to the treatment and the cancer may be too far progressed. Obviously your son noticed the same things you did, so this won't be a surprise. Let him know that he may die soon, but that it's in God's hands for when he'll be called home. If you can visit with your son, definitely do that. You can call ahead of time and plan the visit around his treatment schedule for a day that he may be doing better than another.


I'm sorry you're all going through this. :grouphug: I'm praying for your family.

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My son was six when my mother died from cancer. I think what you have told him is a good start. I would tell him that sometimes doctors/medicine can't make them better. I would warn him that grandpa may not be here much longer, and I would take him to visit as much as possible. :grouphug: It's hard on everybody.

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I think being honest is the best thing. My kids lost their grandma (my MIL) 2 years ago after a 7 year battle with cancer. As we saw her losing her battle we prepared them during the last year by telling them that the medicines weren't helping, the cancer was too strong, etc. They've known people who have also recovered from cancer, so they understand that it's not a death sentence. Currently, my mother has terminal lung cancer and has moved in with us b/c she can't be alone anymore. They know that she won't get better this time and that she won't live much longer.


Even with all our honesty, they were surprised when my MIL passed away. But I can't imagine how it would have been if they hadn't known it was coming. I think it's easier for them to talk thru it when it's an event in the future too.

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