Telling dad that mum is not coming home because she's dead !

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Chimneysweep, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Chimneysweep

    Chimneysweep New member

    Jan 25, 2018
    2
    Hello, Please can you advise .
    My dads dementia is increasing and last night he phoned to say he was worried about where my mum was because she wasn't yet at home. She's been dead 12 years. Do I repeatedly tell him or not? I did last night and he was very upset and also unbelieving .
     
  2. margherita

    margherita Registered User

    May 30, 2017
    2,425
    Female
    Italy, Milan and Acqui Terme
    I do not know what would be better for your Dad. If I were in your shoes, I'd only say she is away and will be back soon.
    If he forgets whatever you tell him, why breaking him upsetting news ?
     
  3. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,723
    Female
    London
    Oh please don't. You'll just make him grieve over and over. If he can't remember he can't remember but there is no point to keep upsetting him. Invent love lies for her absence instead. Tell him she's gone to visit a relative or whatever else might be believable.
     
  4. Doodlespinner

    Doodlespinner New member

    Jan 10, 2018
    1
    Hi Chimneysweep, that must have a very upsetting phone call for you both. I have been given the same advice as Beate suggests, from a number of people. I would follow that.
     
  5. Chimneysweep

    Chimneysweep New member

    Jan 25, 2018
    2
    Ok Thank you. I am new today to this site and so dont know if I am supposed to reply to everyone individually or not?! Anyway I kept my first post short to get a general idea. The thing is if he grieves or is shocked when I tell him that she's been gone for a long time and how we all miss her, won't he have forgotten that in a few minutes? Im worried that if I make up a reason that that in itself ill really alarm him because she wouldn't have ever been out at 8pm. He was threatening to go out to look for her. I live 200 miles away!
     
  6. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,723
    Female
    London
  7. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    10,692
    Female
    South coast
    Yes he will have forgotten the fact, but the devastating feeling of grief will remain, even though he wont remember why he feels like that. It is difficult to know how to handle it when you first come across it - I well remember that sick feeling inside the first time mum wanted to know where dad was - she thought he had left her for another woman.

    Would your dad accept that your mum has gone to visit their daughter, or a sister for example? It may not actually occur to him that she wouldnt have been out that late before and be happy with this.He will forget, but if he accepts this explanation he wont be left with a feeling of anxiety and devastation.
     
  8. love.dad.but..

    love.dad.but.. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    4,417
    Kent
    This is so difficult to hear from a parent and to deal with. Slightly different scenario to the timespan to you but same problem.For dad in the immediate few weeks following mum's sudden death the way we responded really was a rollercoaster. Dad would accept one minute that mum had just popped out shopping...only for 10 minutes later to ask again I replied in the same way...why not it had worked a few minutes before...only for dad to say ... she isn't she's dead. So sometimes when clarity popped in I was explaining she had collapsed and died and helping to console and reassure other times I was telling him she would be back soon and he was happy with that. So brutal for both of us. All I can say is you just have to try to go with the flow of questioning and gauge what response you think would be kindest. If there is no clarity that mum has died I would just continue and reinforce the popping out response. After a couple of months dad stopped asking.
     
  9. Soobee

    Soobee Registered User

    Aug 22, 2009
    2,734
    South
    I said "he's not here(at the moment)" and "he's gone" because I could not bring myself to lie outright. I felt terrible about it.
     
  10. VerityH

    VerityH Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    77
    I'm just starting to have to do this too. My mum and dad both have dementia (well dad did, sadly he died and his funeral was yesterday). They were married for nearly 61 years, but have been living apart for the last year as their 'dynamic' didn't work when they were together. It was one of the saddest things I have ever had to do when Mum moved to a different home. She was sad to start with, then started thinking one of the other residents was her husband/my dad, so she was ok. Then the care home asked for mum's new 'husband' to be removed as he was trying to escape all the time and breaking the doors - I actually feel this is an awful thing to do - if you can't handle dementia patients, you shouldn't really be offering dementia care, and Harry was rather sweet most of the time and everyone seemed to like him. Anyway, that's another subject.

    We told mum immediately that dad had died - I'd been preparing her as he was in hospital for a couple of weeks, and we knew he wouldn't survive. She visited him once, but doesn't remember it. I probably wouldn't have taken her to the funeral, but my sister insisted (and she's not the sort of person who takes no for an answer, but thank goodness I persuaded her to come with me to see Dad in the funeral home before she took mum there, as the poor old thing really did look like a corpse and it would have definitely upset mum!). In the intervening couple of weeks, the care staff said mum knew something had happened/someone had died, but didn't really know who. She seemed to think it was her dad, and I did put her right on a couple of occasions as it seemed only fair. When we were about to get into the funeral cars, she decided to pop to the loo first, but was worried she would get left behind. I told her not to worry as she was the 'guest of honour'. She asked why, and I again had to tell her that it was her husband's funeral. She burst into tears and asked why no-one had told her. This is what I had been worried about. Anyway, she seemed to understand and we gave her lots of cuddles. During the service, when my sister and I, their grandson and godson all said a few words about Dad, Mum was fine - didn't cry, didn't seem to know what was happening really. And then she had a lovely time with all the family at the tea afterwards at my sister's house and when I took her home she said she'd had a lovely day out. All well and good.

    But when my sister saw her today - Mum had a dentist appt - Mum asked if Dad was coming too, and my sister told her again that Dad had died. Naturally, Mum was upset. My sister is not one for lying to Mum - she says she never will - but I feel it is awful for mum to have to keep learning that the love of her life has died. I have got quite good at glossing over questions about dad before he died and changing the subject so as not to upset her. and it feels like the kind thing to do, but it's not always possible.

    It's so hard. Has anyone found a good way to handle this? Mum is deteriorating quite rapidly - she has vascular dementia and Alzheimers which are both progressing - she doesn't really have a clue where she is or what's going on. I just hate to cause her any distress if I can avoid it. Am I being cruel or kind? It's tricky.
     
  11. Sarasa

    Sarasa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2018
    558
    When mum asks if I've seen her parents lately I just say 'not very lately'. On Saturday she was saying that she thought my maternal grandmother always know as 'Bromley nan' had moved to Liverpool. I just said no, she's still in Bromley.
    My husband is of the don't lie variety @VerityH , and for most things in life I'd agree with him, but when it comes to people with dementia you can't do that.
     
  12. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
    3,147
    Nottinghamshire
    I always used to tell dad that mum was with her (also dead) sister when he asked where she was. As they were identical twins and spent a lot of time together he would always accept that.

    and I was telling the truth...
     
  13. VerityH

    VerityH Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    77
    Yes, I've been going through that recently with my mum, who thinks her mum (who died in 1998 and would've been about 300 years old by now!) is in a care home. I just agree with her but say it's too far away to visit. I need to think up something like that maybe to answer about dad ...
     
  14. VerityH

    VerityH Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    77
    Hmm … mum never went anywhere without dad. They were inseparable. I'll have to think of something that will work.
     

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