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how do i tell my son his father is dying of cancer

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:24 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2010
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snooky1976 HB User
how do i tell my son his father is dying of cancer

I have a 10 yr old son whose father is dying of brain cancer. He has witnessed the gradual decline of his father's health, along with all the physical changes (weight gain due to the drugs and treatments) and changes in his mental state (not always being able to talk, remember people/things, confusion and combativeness, etc) over the past year or so... but now, his dad has started to take a turn for the worse, and it isn't something he can recover from. it's anyone's guess how much longer he actually has, whether it is a matter of weeks or months... and while my son knows his dad has brain cancer, i don't think he quite understands the inevitable - his dad's death.

I know his death is coming (now it seems to be approaching at a much faster pace) and I know my son needs to be made to know and understand his dad is dying, but don't really know HOW to tell him, how to have that conversation. My son is on the autism spectrum, but is very high functioning. Most people have no idea about his disability... but he does have many of the classic problems of most austistic children, in that he doesn't fully understand the social cues most of us take for granted, and though he does have a lot of empathy (unsual for an autistic) he can't fully understand the position another person might be in. He's struggled quite a bit with a low self-image that we feel largely stems from his awareness of his 'difference' from other kids, and this is going to be a devastating blow to him. He was not always kind to his father after the onset of his illness, at times he was downright mean and hostile. I know that those past actions still hover in his mind. How can I tell him that his dad is dying, help him make 'right' the wrongs he did to his dad, and make the most of the time he has left with him?

Sorry if this post has kind of run all over the place, but there are so many things going on emotionally, mentally, physical distance between us and his father (over 200 miles away) among other things... any suggestions from other parents who have been through this with similarly ages kids would help... maybe some recommended books that my son and I could read together?

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Old 03-08-2010, 09:49 AM   #2
Join Date: Mar 2010
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snooky1976 HB User
Re: how do i tell my son his father is dying of cancer

also... my mom had a good question... should the person who breaks the bad news to him be someone he is very close to? or would it be better for it to be someone he has a little distance from... as when he hears this, it will be something he will always remember... and there may or may not be anger and resentment towards that person (in some way, in a child's mind... that person may be 'to blame' for his dad's death, or his knowledge that his dad is going to die)

any help at all with this is deeply appreciated

Old 03-09-2010, 11:04 AM   #3
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Re: how do i tell my son his father is dying of cancer

I am so sosrry for what you are going through. It's tough to loose a parent-at any age. By your post I gather that your son's father does not live with you? Does he see him very often? Do you plan on being there when the end is near? Just some things that you need to think about.

My suggestion would be that someone close to your son break the news. How you tell him depends on his level of of ability to accept. Has he ever had a pet that died? If he did it could be something he could relate to.

Does your son have a counselor that he sees? I would think that either a counselor or a close teacher could provide a good sounding board for him. You are going to have to let him lead the way for this part. It will depend on his comprehension skills. Ask the counselor at his school for some appropriate books.

my prayers are with you...

Old 03-17-2010, 06:51 PM   #4
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justmel30 HB User
Re: how do i tell my son his father is dying of cancer

It needs to come from you first of all, and you need to be blunt about it. Not in a cold manner, but you need to sit him down, and tell him what is going on. Tell him the truth, the whole truth, dont give him false hope because he will not be ok with that if it doesnt work out, and ask him if he has any questions. My husband went to work one day, and was killed on his way there. I did not want to tell my oldest son. Of course I had to. He was 6 at the time, and I called my pastor. I wanted my pastor to do it. He refused. He insisted that I be the one to do it, and he sat with me while it did it, and instructed me how. He said what I told you. Now, this year, my oldest is 9, and my father is dying. We live right next door, and we are all very close. My dad stepped in as his dad when my husband passed, and we are facing the same thing in the very near future. Last week we got some worse news about his condition and I know the end is comming soon. And I knew I needed to tell my son. So I sat him down, and I told him. Then I asked him if he had any questions. He had lots of questions, and they were not easy to answere, but I held my composure, and we got through it, and then we prayed. For me, the prayer allows them to feel like they have some control over what is so uncontrollable. We didnt pray for a miracle, but we prayed that his grandpa would be happy and comfortable and to give us a little more time if possible. We also prayed that his grandma be ok because this is going to be hard on her too, and we prayed that when grandpa does pass, that he is able to find my husband, and tell him how we are all doing. It gave my son a sense that it doesnt all end here, and that we will all be together again some day. He spent the next to days talking about it a lot with me, and now he is back to himself......for the most part. He wants to spend a little more time with grandpa which is hard because like I said, he is becomming very ill. But we do the best we can. I'm sorry this was so long, but that's how I've handled this. I hope it helps you, and at the very least, I hope your able to find the best way you can to deal with this.

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