Saying Goodbye

Discussion in 'End of life care' started by Son-In-Law., Oct 13, 2016.

  1. Son-In-Law.

    Son-In-Law. Registered User

    Oct 13, 2016
    In trying to do the right thing, I may have made a terrible mistake that could destroy my marriage.

    The affected person is my 82-y-o Father In Law who was diagnosed with mild Vascular Dementia in May this year.

    Since then he has a major heart operation and then went suddenly downhill, with aggression and a weekly deterioration. This led to a mental health sectioning and now he is refusing to eat or drink and we are now counting down to the inevitable.

    The problem is his grandkids, they saw him several weeks ago after the heart op and he was bad but has deteriorated massively since then.

    My eldest daughter (early 20's) has some anxiety issues and was deeply affected by my own Father's death two years ago (he died in the space of a week from an undiagnosed cancer). Her problems were exacerbated by the fact that she was living away from home at the time and we didn't tell her anything until after the death itself (for multiple, good reasons).

    She (and her sister) do/does have an opportunity to visit their granddad in hospital to say goodbye.

    My Wife and I agreed that they should make the decision, but after an emotional row between my Wife and daughter, my daughter and I had a long chat and in the process of I did express my opinion that she should consider not going and remember him as-he-was rather than having the very distressing image of how-he-is as her abiding memory of him forever.

    I know that there is no right answer as she may regret going or she may regret NOT going and it is impossible to know now what is the right thing to do for the future.

    At the moment she has decided not to go, though this is not irrevocable of course.

    Now to the problem - my Wife is feeling very upset and incandescent with me because of what I have done. She feels betrayed and can never forgive me for what I have done.

    She (and my MIL) both want our daughters to go and I have interfered and messed everything up.

    I would appreciate any input, comments or advice


  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello Son-in- Law

    There are many of us on Talking Point who have taken offence when family and friends have stopped visiting because they want to remember him/her as s/he is.

    When someone is seriously ill, they are as they are at the time. They are still themselves, only in an older and more poorly body. If we took this feeling literally we would only wish to remember people in their youth, in fitness and when all was well.

    This is just my opinion and i`m not surprised your wife is offended. Sorry!
  3. meme

    meme Registered User

    Aug 29, 2011
    #3 meme, Oct 13, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    some wish to be remembered as they were and not be seen at the end, especially by the younger family members. It is a very difficult 23yr old son saw my mother at the end, with much pushing from me.... and was deeply affected. When my brother was ill with pancreatic cancer after this, I warned my son how he had changed and my brother actually asked me to do this.... and the up shot was my son couldn't face seeing him..I was very upset but later I realised it was best he remembered his uncle as he was.
    So your daughter has the choice and both must be respected and neither are right or wrong...
  4. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    I'm sorry, but I would have liked to be able to not remember my 87 year old Mum's emaciated body when she died....but I couldn't and can't forget it. I was the one and only of her daughters able to be present. I did not prevent my children ( in their 30s) nor did I prevent their children ( age 1, 5 and 9) from visiting their Nana in her declining months...This was their old Nan and they just accepted her as she was. OK the little ones missed seeing her during her last couple of weeks but that was down to timing.

    Your Daughter is not a child. She is a young woman. Yes, she took her Grandfather's death hard, but you cannot shelter her from everything difficult to face. I believe she should be encouraged to visit at least once, in order to say Goodbye. Not seeing him might leave her more scared.

    And IMHO ....say sorry to your wife, she's about to lose her Dad and will be feeling fragile.
  5. Son-In-Law.

    Son-In-Law. Registered User

    Oct 13, 2016
    Thank you for your response. I understand your point of view, however whilst I agree with the thrust of your argument there is a world of difference in the way that my FIL looked just three weeks ago and now he is a distressing shadow of what he was before, unintelligible; sallow and dying within in a matter of days.

    I (and my daughter) am concerned that her last sight of her granddad will be the one that she carries around in her head for the rest of her life.

    I watched my Father die, the machine bleeping and then stopping. I'll carry that around forever, I would prefer not to have seen it but I was there for my Mum.

    My abiding memory of my Step-nan is that of a painfully thin and ill lady just a week before her death. This is massively ameliorated by the fact that I was able to talk to her, to squeeze her hand and tell her that I loved her.

    My paternal Grandmother died (cancer at 60) when I was 6. I was taken to the hospital and I remember the trip, I remember the room, and the bag of sweets that she gave us, though I was too young to appreciate the significance, I do remember the occasion.

    My daughter on the other hand will have an abiding memory of visiting the shell of a man who will not recognize her, cannot communicate and may become violent or agitated.

    It is the memories that are made at times of great stress or happiness that persist and she will have this for the rest of her life.

    Best Regards

  6. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I dont think that there is any right or wrong decision here. Your daughter is an adult and can choose for herself. I would be inclined to say to her that although you and her mum have different ideas she is not choosing between her two parents - she must do whichever she thinks is best for her and you will support her decision, whichever it is.
  7. Cherryade

    Cherryade Registered User

    Jul 27, 2015
    Your daughter is an adult and must choose for herself. Her choice no doubt takes into account her relationship with her grandad. Both you and your wife must respect that decision. The only other thing would be if her grandad specifically asked to see her. I would then try to persuade her to go. Otherwise you must support her in her decision.
  8. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    #8 Spamar, Oct 13, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    I agree, your daughter is an adult, she must stand by her choices.
    If you want to remember your loved one as he/she was, rather than in the last throes of life, find some happy pix and display them. I won't say the memories will go, but they will fade and you have that happy, smiling handsome guy ( in my case) to look at every day. I've even sat and talked to him. It also helped that I (accidentally) lost the camera on which I had taken photos during his last weeks!
  9. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Well, I'm afraid I think your wife is wrong to pressure your daughter. She is an adult and she should be allowed to make her own mind up.

    I didn't see any of my grandparents in the lead up to their deaths, nor did I choose to view my mother's body after she died

    My decision, no regrets.
  10. notsogooddtr

    notsogooddtr Registered User

    Jul 2, 2011
    Who would benefit from this?I've decided I can only decide what I will do,others must do the same.I don't ask my brother or my children if they have seen Dad/Grandad,it's up to them to do what they think is appropriate.
  11. Soobee

    Soobee Registered User

    Aug 22, 2009
    Personally I think it is important for people to see how loved ones change when they are at the end of their lives, otherwise what happens when they have to face that later on in life? How do they cope then when they have never experienced a sudden or gradual decline?

    As a society we protect people from new life and death and I don't think that's helpful. I think it leaves a lot of people completely unprepared for the natural processes that occur. I personally feel that we should all be talking about our hopes and fears much more when it comes to this kind of situation.

    People should be able to make informed decisions for themselves, even if they are children. Anyone who has the facts of the situation can then choose for themselves.

    Unfortunately there is no choice for some of us, we have to be there. I am glad I was.
  12. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    I can see the reasoning for both views but for both of you to fully accept that whatever your daughter decides as an adult will be right for her. I think you did the right thing in letting her know that you felt she would see it was ok for her to feel she didn't want to visit in helping make her decision and perhaps a little pressure from your wife is unfortunate as she should come to the decision after listening to the thinking and guideness behind both of your viewpoints.My adult children decide for themselves whether to see their grandad in decline I let them know how he is doing on major changes falls etc but not the day to day stuff this illness throws up. I tell them it is fine if they want to visit but equally fine if they never go again. He doesn't know them now they usually visit with me now and again I update them before we visit so no shocks or surprises.They are made of strong stuff as probably most of us are when facing something we are not looking forward to...on my mums birthday we all arrived to find her dead and it was so shocking and not a pretty sight as she died the day before...but they tearfully handled it like we all had to but I wouldn't dream of pressurising anyone to visit. It has to be an individual decision and the person should not feel they carry any guilt with either decision. We all deal with things differently.
  13. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Hear, hear.
  14. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
    My thoughts too

    Sorry that it's upset your wife, but I am of the thought that your daughter should not be forced into something like this. She should be supported what ever her decision is.

    I am the one who doesn't encourage my kids to see mum at the care home. Why should they? They have good memories of her and I want them to continue to do so. Time soon enough for them to be dealing with our passing.

    I certainly wouldn't insist they visit when she is dying. That's their choice, if they feel they want to and not one that I should make for them.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  15. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK

    I feel for you, you are obviously a caring and sensitive son-in-law, who just wants the best for everyone.

    In your shoes, I would apologise to your wife, regardless of who you may feel is right or wrong. She needs your support right now, and needs to feel you are on her side.

    Hopefully, your wife will come to understand that your adult daughter must be responsible for her own decision, that she ought not to be 'persuaded' one way or another, before it's too late. She probably does understand this on some deep level, but is just too distraught right now to think clearly. It's so difficult. Give her time and space. Same for your daughter.

    With good wishes at this difficult time. xx
  16. Gwendy1

    Gwendy1 Registered User

    Feb 9, 2016
    I agree, your wife is your priority. My 'kids' - in their early 20's- don't visit their grandad very often. I struggled with this, and still do when I'm feeling emotional. They saw their granny in the hospice the week that she died. And when their grandad was very ill they visited him daily in hospital- he's now back at the care home. But... it was very much their choice. I let them know the situation, and they wanted to be there. It did help them grieve saying goodbye to my mum, I do know that. Emotions are running very high in your family just now. You obviously love your wife dearly. You can only care, and be there for her. X

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  17. Sunbell

    Sunbell Registered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Yorkshire, England
    Hello SIL,

    Saying goodbye is very hard for anyone but it is part of life and learning to accept that very sad things happen. As your children are adult now they should be allowed their own decisions in these cases as it is another step to take in life.

    From personal experience, my Mum had a terrible time leading up to her death from Advanced Alzheimers and was unrecognisable, so desperately ill. When my children went to see her, they were young adults, even though their Nan could not speak, her eyes lit up and a tear rolled down her face, you could see the love in her eyes at their presence. All the love and caring she had given them throughout their lives spilled out that day and both my children, although deeply upset said they wouldn't have wanted it any other way. The next day she died in my arms and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way either.

    I still shed a tear now and so do my children but we can now remember the good times we always had with Mum and can smile at her photo.

    Everyone is different in grief but as time goes by memories become sweeter.

    I hope all turns out o.k. for you and your family, you all need each others support at the moment.

  18. MrsTerryN

    MrsTerryN Registered User

    Dec 17, 2012
    My 33 year old son has declined to see his grandmother as she is now. I am fine with that decision. My uncle , mum's brother, at 80 has decided he won't visit mum again and he wants to remember her as she was a couple of months ago.
    He has seen numerous family and friends on the verge of death and post death.
    I , currently, see mum every day and take selfies most of the time. Mum used to lov3 to smile for the camera.
    If my son wanted to see his nan..i really would be pleased but his choice, always his choice.
  19. Zana

    Zana Registered User

    May 12, 2016
    Each person is different and that is PWD and the family around them. My MIL forgot who I was years ago, she remembered the dogs names long after she forgot me!
    There would be little of no point in me visiting in fact it might even lead to distress so I dont even think about going.
    Her daughters are there daily and OH has this week made the journey to see his mum even though for him its painfull knowning that he is also on this journey of decline.

    I think we can all only do what feels right for us and it is not up to anyone else to decide or judge for us..
  20. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    I think your daughter should make up her own mind - she has heard both points of view and now she has to make a decision. Although she is an adult (I have a 20 year old daughter too), at 20 perhaps she isn't quite an adult and death is difficult for all of us. I don't think we can make that decision for anyone else, we can only give information about the choice.
    I am so sorry your wife has reacted so badly, she is distressed at the moment and this is a highly emotional response, perhaps she isn't quite herself, be kind and patient, it will all work out in the end and you need to stay close xx

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