Advice/Wisdom re a funeral

Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
Hi everyone

My Mum's sister in law died last Friday (not the nicest return from 3 days break, much appreciated, in Cornwall, but as she was over 90 and very frail, it didn't come as a shock).

Her daughter left me a voicemail message (yet to reply, as thrown into work turmoil on return here, and left office at 10 last night: does the opportunity to feel guilty never end?), and said she would understand if I chose not to tell Mum for a while in case it would upset her. The funeral is on Friday, and I just know that taking Mum - if it were possible - would mean taking her within a few miles of her house, and the on-going "I want to go home" (which is simply not going away as an issue - she's writing to old friends and neighbours trying to get them to come and get her) would just escalate.

Any advice, wisdom or words of comfort would be appreciated. It seems to be that the easiest course of action is not to mention it for a while, so the funeral issue doesn't get the opportunity to raise it's head. Time for some more little white lies? (I didn't find out because it happened while I was away ...)

I'm beginning to feel like I'm having to live in an alternative reality myself just to make hers more bearable.



Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hi Dave

ah, puts a dampener on returning from a nice break, doesn't it?

I remember returning from an alcohol aided conference in Montreux and my Mum had gone to stay with Jan [this was way before any symptoms of Jan's dementia... or, I think now, had I already picked up some hints...?].

Anyway as always, I dashed home to be with Jan again, and rushed into the lounge, saying "I've had a fantastic time - I've been pi**ed for the entire conference" - to be greeted by blank stares from both of them.

My Mum said "Jan's mother died last night". :eek:

Back to your situation....

how often did your Mum see her sister in law?

If it was infrequently, I'd not even raise the situation to her.

If it was often, I'd probably do the same and if Mum asked about her, I'd say she is away on a short holiday.

All depends on the situation and your Mum's ability to comprehend.

Good luck!


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
This is tough. I assume you feel the news will upset her? I know that seems an obvious question, but my own mother seems to have lost any concept of grief, along with her memory. Of course, all the deaths I have had to report are ones that she already knew about, but had, on some level, forgotten. I don't think, in your situation, I would tell her - you know she's not going to remember anyway, so what is the point? We already feel guilty, we might as well feel guilty about this a secret as well. I'm glad you had a good break, but I'm sorry you had to come back to sad news. There was a period of 3 years when each time we went away on a family vacation, somebody died - first my SIL, then my FIL then a cousin, then my husbands best friend - we don't go away much anymore.

Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
DOn't ASk, Don't Tell

They've only seen each other occasionally (a couple of times a year) for quite some time, although until a couple of years ago they spoke on the phone every couple of weeks. Mum always having been emotional ('moody' might be more accurate), Grace alternated between being a lovely old lady and a money-grabbing old bag who only got in touch when you were close to death's door and there might be money in it, although the rare mentions over the last year or so have been fonder than that.

I think I'll play it by ear and maybe tell her in a few weeks time. I'll send flowers from Mum and me in the meantime.

Thanks Brucie and Jennifer - much appreciated. Today has felt like a very deep low - only went to Cornwall as my other half insisted (he's very concerned about my stress levels), and had a wonderful time. Have arrived back to this, plus a job I took in despair after redundancy last year which is one long disaster zone (how can you project manage people who can't do what they do?). Thank God for TP - without this, I'd have sat in bed this morning and just wept.

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Dave, in a word, lie. Your mother will only get upset and then forget. I learned the hard way years ago - I told my mother several times her mother was dead (and my grandmother had been dead 30 years at that time).

Since then my mother has had 2 siblings die. I have never said a word & she's never asked about them, even though my aunt would visit every couple of months when she was well. She does ask about my grandmother & I lie my face off, saying gran's is well, same as always, etc.

In my opinion, there is absolutely no point in telling a person with AD anything that will upset them. They have a hard enough time as it is - why add more?

Having said that, it is up to you. But I would definitely not bring your mother to the funeral, even if you do tell her. I think that would be too much for both of you.
You might want to go on your own. Give your cousin a quick call & explain whatever you decide. Plus, you'll only feel guilty if you don't call her.

My sympathy to you all.



Registered User
May 14, 2006
To tell or not?

My MIL died just over two weeks ago and her funeral was last Monday. I didn't tell my Mum, although they got on well together, because it would have upset Mum if she'd remembered who I was talking about. If the topic comes up, I shall just say she's a bit poorly at the moment. As my MIL lived on the IOW and we live in Kent, Mum would not be expectng to see her much anyway. Mum did realise I was a bit sad though, when MIL was first in hospital, but she gets very confused with people's names and relationship's.

Dave W

Registered User
Jul 3, 2005
Thanks everyone

Thank you for the messages - sometimes you need someone to tell you what you already know, don't you? Lying it is then.

Given the events of the last few minutes (company's computer server farm underwater after flash floods, which will mean complete hell and inability to do anything about for rest of the week), this suddenly feels like quite a small issue.

I'm going to go and do something very sensible - have a drink :)




Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
Hi Dave

and have another one on me!

Don't worry about the computers - all CPUs have floating point arithmetic, so a little water will not trouble them.

Lying has had a very bad press, qute rightly in many instances.

I look upon lying in the dementia context as being a sort of homoeopathic process... a little of something bad being used to do something good.

A good example is where someone with dementia asks where their [long-dead] parent is. Really no point in entering into an explanation, just say - they are shopping at the moment and will pop in later. Later, 'later' will be even later, if you get my gist!

In the dementia world there is no past - everything wafts in and out of the present. Unfortunately, future is a bit bleak, so let's all lie - not least to ourselves - and say today is the future.

... all together, with Norman, "Day by Day"

Best wishes.

[I've just had my G&T, so I'm content];)


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
I find that when I get questions like"Where is the cat,where is the dog" I can get away with "don't know" said in a sort of detached way.
It is easier than saying we don/t have a cat/dog anymore.
Where people are concerned I tried telling Peg that they were dead,she said I was a liar,don't be ridiculous.
Now I use the same method as for the dog and cat,works as a rule


Registered User
Jul 5, 2006
Hi, I find myself in the same sort of situation and I wonder if everyone thinks I should do the same.

My Nan was put in a care home 3 weeks ago for respite care as my Grandad was taken into hospital. He died last week and no one has told her and it doesn't look like she will ever be able to go home now.

When I have visited her the main topic of conversation has been that she wants to go home, but I think she sort of understood she couldn't whilst her husband was in hospital. She has hardly mentioned her husband in the last 2 weeks and didn't really seem to know who he was just that he was ill and he was important somehow.

Anyway my Dad (her son) and my Nans sister both say she is not to be told and she is not going to the funeral as it will upset her too much.

I understand that she forgets most things within a few minutes (like the last time I took her to see her husband in hospital she forgot she'd seen him in 10 mins)
, but she has either Parkinsons or Lewey's Bodies or AD or a combination but she does seem to me to be perfectly lucid at times.

Is this a fairly common response by my Dad and Aunt? The whole situation is so sad they were married for 60 years and this is such a horrible end to their life together. I don't want to upset her and at the same time I think maybe she should be told.

Could anyone with more experience or insight please tell me what they think as I am in a terrible muddle!



Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Jodie,
So sorry about your grandad.
I think like you I would feel that she should be told; he was her husband for 60 years. But told once, allowed to grieve once, and then let it go. I know when my mum's favourite brother died, we worried about telling her, but although she still had a little understanding it seemed to go over her head.
The funeral? What about you carrying a photo, or wearing a piece of jewellery of your Nan's so that you are there for her, grieving on her behalf. Your dad and aunt need space to grieve for their father, but at the same time they, like you, will already be grieving for the mum and nan that they and you are losing each day.
I don't know if this is any help.


Registered User
Jul 15, 2005
I am going to sock away all this advice for the future ! They say ignorance is bliss and in the case of AD, at least advanced is sooooo true !
When my Mom is reminded that someone she is asking for is dead, she gets incredibly sad. Why bring back grief. I have no problem with white lies to spare them ( or us ).
Dave....hope all goes well !