Parenting Kids and the Issue of Death

Parenting Kids and the Issue of Death

As a parent of two, one 14 and one 9, I am faced with challenges on a daily basis. However this week has been a monumental struggle to keep a positive influence around our household as we are facing a death in the family. My mother in law, went into the hospital on Friday with severe liver disease, kidney failure and is on her death bed. We knew she wouldn’t last long with her obsessive alcoholism, but her deterioration has come swift and almost unexpected.

We had a chance to visit with Mother in law 3 weeks ago, as she interacted with our children and was a pleasant experience. There usually are not that many pleasant experiences, when you deal with an Alcoholic, but this day was calm and enjoyable.

The 9 year old boy (Mitch) had a great experience, and played with his grandmother, an image and memory I wish to protect and visually maintain. As his grandmother went into the hospital this Friday, Mitch wanted to visit. I had to reinforce the issue that it wasn’t appropriate, and he should remember his grandmother as he saw her just a little time ago. He doesn’t need to see her in the ICU, with tubes and on her death bed. That image could and would haunt him for years.

Just yesterday Mitch mentioned he was sad that he couldn’t see his grandmother and mentioned he didn’t like “seeing” her in the hospital. He had a picture in his head based on eaves dropping and overhearing adult conversations discussing my mother-in-laws health.

I once again had to reinforce, that he didn’t see grandma in the hospital and that he should remember her like she was just a few weeks ago.

The issue is hard, I would not want to traumatize him with the site of hospital ICU room, but I do respect the fact he wishes to see her again or at least one last time. However I have to weigh the issue of his mental well being and additional issues that might result from the hospital scene with wanting to see grandma.

The one thing I can pull on is from my own experience. When my grandmother died, I was about the same age. I was pulled out of class in the 3rd grade and we flew from Virginia to Illinois. There was snow on the ground so it had to be in November, December time frame. I did not do to the “Showing” or “Wake” but did go to the funeral. I think my parents did the right thing and didn’t let me view my dead grandmother, rather let me go to the funeral and say good bye.

Based on that experience and hopefully some common sense, I think I am making the right decision for the 9 year old boy.

It’s a hard one, but one I hope you never have to deal with. Any advice or experience of those who faced a similar dilemma would be greatly appreciated.

Author: ParentingMaven

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