Ideas to help my 6 year old with Terminally ill grandad

  1. Hi Seasoned Nurses
    My FIL has poor health and CLL along with multiple morbidities. He is finally under hospice care (in reality i cannot understand why it took so long to get to this stage as my understanding of hospice is that they can be involved in any life-limiting illness...but that is another story). I think it is unlikely he will make it to Christmas, but i keep thinking he may not survive to the end of October. Anyway I would love to have some ideas of how to help my 6 year old daughter get through this, loosing her Grandad. In the last 6 months I have also lost my maternal Aunt and Maternal Nana. So what is likely to be 3 funerals in a year which is a lot for a 6 year old. She is amazing in her understanding. I never forced her to see my Aunt or nan in their coffins, but she wanted to and had some very good questions (why was my aunt holding a teddy bear for example). The day I told her that my Aunt had died in the night she took her easter story she had made to school and talked about new life in death. When it snowed recently she made a comment when we drove past the cemetry where my nan's ashes are that she would get cold in the snow!

    So any ideas of how to make the next few months easier. We have never wanted to hide death from her, but it is turning into quite a contrast as i did not attend my first funeral till I was 18.

    We do not live in the same city as my FIL but are going to visit this week (it is a 7 hour drive). Any ideas of what to do to make this visit easier? In reality it is a good bye trip, but i do know if i should explain part to her.
    Thanks in advance
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    About dreamyjean

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 29; Likes: 5


  3. by   Hospice Nurse LPN
    I'm so sorry to hear about your FIL. Contact your hospice & ask the MSW to visit w/ your daughter. That's their job and they are wonderful.
  4. by   dreamyjean
    Thanks for your reply and idea. I have emailed the local hospice in the city we live in for some ideas and some good resources. We are going up later this week (long drive to see FIL and MIL). It complicates that we do not live in the same city as them so hence may not be seen as needing support by them to deal with this. Interesting and tough times ahead in our family. I worked in palliative care many years ago, but dealing with such an insightful daughter I feel I am out of my league on this one.
  5. by   ErinS
    I encourage you to be honest with her. Obviously she understands death in some capacity. When you go up this week tell her he is very sick and is going to die. Answer honestly questions she asks, including 'I don't know' to the ones you don't know. Good luck. Also, I believe has some information on child grief.
  6. by   leslie :-D
    definitely agree with erin, be honest.
    answer questions, always be honest - including "i don't know", and keep in mind that at this age, kids tend to personify death, in the form of ghosts, skeletons, ghouls, bogeymans, angel of death, etc.
    if she is at that stage, hopefully she will see grandpa as an angel.

    if your dtr doesn't know anything now, i'm not sure if she needs to know about his impending death...
    only that he is very sick and hurting.
    then, when the time comes, you will be able to tell her that he died, is no longer hurting and feels all better now.
    sharing your spiritual beliefs, can be very helpful as well.

    as for the physical body not being there after death, it sometimes helps to tell kids, that love cannot be seen, only felt.
    so even though she can't see grandpa anymore, she can feel him when she thinks about him.

    your dtr sounds like an intelligent young lady.
    prayers for peace and faith.