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Breaking bad news - Carers UK Forum

Breaking bad news

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
My mum has quite advanced dementia retaining little information for long on 22nd December my brother her son aged 58 died suddenly we broke the news to mum and of course she cried and was upset
15 mins later she asked if I had seen my brother ! This is a usual question on most of my visits
My dilemma now is do I keep telling her he’s no longer with us do I distract her or ignor her I just don’t know
I have also decided not to take her to the funeral crowds upset and confuse her and at my fathers funeral 2 yrs ago mums illnes wasn’t as advanced and she was overwhelmed and bewildered then
Any thoughts please
Be kind, tell a little white lie, I know it will be difficult, but much better than mum going through the grief again, and again... Just say something like "he sends his love but he's working away at the moment". Make sure all the family know and understand what you are doing, and why.
I lost my husband at the age of 58, and my brother a couple of years later. I'm really sorry to hear of your loss, it takes a long time to come to terms with a sudden death like this, and seems extra unfair when mum is still alive, but he isn't.
So be kind to yourself, as far as possible just do the bare necessities for the next few days. Will you be able to get someone to look after mum while you go to the service?
Personally I never remind my husband that loved ones have died.. If he asks if I have seen them I tell him ' not today' and change the subject. I don't want him to be upset, possibly shocked by the news, just to forget. I may have to find a reason sometimes,of why I haven't seen them, blame the weather, or they are at a club etc. No point in putting your self through the torment either. I'm so sorry you have this to cope with on top of everything else.. Look after yourself.
I completely agree with the above advice. The most important thing now is your mum's mental comfort and what happiness she can have. She is very near the end of her life, and why on earth force her into grief that she does not need to feel, just because of what 'we' consider 'real' when SHE has a very different - and in that respect of not feeling grief, happier - reality.

All too often, alas, I think we try and keep those with dementia in the 'world of reaity' because WE don't want to think they are as bad as they are mentally, or the dementia has advanced as far. But, as I say, all that is important now is making mum's last times on this earth as 'happy' as can be for her now.

Wouldn't you rather she had the comfort of thinking her son still alive, than the agony of knowing she has outlived him?

(I'm afraid I can also resonate with any feelings of 'outrage' perhaps that are in the family perhaps, ie, because a man who should have had decades left of life is gone, while his mother so frail and elderly and 'ebbing' is still here - I feel the same way about my 93 y/o MIL with advanced dementia, whose son, my husband, died in his fifties)(sadly for her, she was quite compos mentes at the time and had to endure that agony of loss....poor soul.)
Judith I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Brother. Having to cope with that loss and with your Mum's dementia at the same time must be very hard on you.

I am in agreement with the others on what to say to your Mum - 'white lies' are so much kinder. My Mum also had dementia and totally could not remember that her Mum and Dad, her sisters and her husband had all died (she was the only one of her generation still alive). She frequently asked where one or the other were; if we told her the truth (that so and so had died) she would get very upset, convinced that either we weren't telling the truth or that she had missed their funeral ! It was much kinder for her to believe that they were still alive but "at work" or "on holiday" for the few minutes that she could retain the information.
THANKYOU all we seem to have the same thoughts which is very reassuring for me
Previously on the forum, people have mentioned a book called "Contented Dementia" or similar. Might be worth getting a copy.
Is mum still paying council tax? She should now be exempt.