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Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

7 Dec 2017 21:10

Hi... I am currently in a surreal world. I can't believe what is happening. My mom (56) got sick last week, she just got diagnosed and they told us she has only a few days left. Her lungs are critical, full with fluids. Doctor told us that in these cases it is better not to tell her. I don't know exactly why - I heard it, but it is all blurry to me. Everything is blurry. They said something about that patients dont react well with the fact that only a few days are left. I ALSO AM NOT REACTING WELL! Crying again... Tomorrow I am going back, how can I face her? I am sure she knows. Damn, this hurts. 

Re: Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

7 Dec 2017 21:27 in response to JamesSLO

James I just don't know what to say my friend I really don't,,  

Re: Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

7 Dec 2017 22:10 in response to JamesSLO

Just want to send you a hug ... life sucks sometimes ... thinking of you .... wish I could help more ... we're always here, especially if you need to vent .... chrisie xx ❤ 

Re: Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

7 Dec 2017 22:38 in response to JamesSLO

James, this is awful for you all.  You know your mum and may have to play it by ear.  Are there other family members who are sharing this terrible time - I hope you are not carrying this alone.  Get help if you can.  When my mum died from cancer some time ago my father didn't want her told - I have regretted this as I was sure she knew only too well what was happening.  When we are feeling lost we tend to listen to the people who we assume know what they are doing but this does not mean that you cannot discuss it with them if your gut feeling is telling you something different.

Re: Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

8 Dec 2017 11:40 in response to JamesSLO

Hi JamesSLO

I am very sorry to read about how unwell your mum is. This is such an awful time for you.

Try not to be too hard on yourself and worry about how you are reacting. This is a very upsetting time and your emotions will be all over the place. To be honest it’s good that you can express them.

I can only imagine how surreal this time is for you. So much has happened so quickly you haven’t had enough time to digest any information or been able to talk things over with your mom. It also doesn’t help that you know your mom’s prognosis and she doesn’t, I can see this is worrying you. I imagine that she is aware of how unwell she is but is probably trying to protect you as you are her son. I know the doctor has said it is better not to tell her, but you and your family could maybe discuss your concerns about this with the team. You could explain that you are not comfortable that she doesn’t know this. I wondered if she has the palliative care team involved in her care now, they are very experienced doctors and nurses in looking after patients and their families when someone is dying. If not, it may be a good idea to see if your mum can be referred to this service. We have more information about this service in our dying with cancer section. It is a hard read and you may not be ready, but it is here if/when you want to read it. 

As I am not involved in your mom’s care it is difficult for me to know exactly how she is. I am not exactly sure if is she is able to talk or finds it difficult because she may be very breathless. If this is the case you could give her a paper and pen so she can write her questions down. She may be too weak so this may not work, but it is just an idea to help. If she can you may find that she asks the doctor quite direct questions about her future.

You explained that you didn’t know how to face her when you visit her today. Be yourself when you go to see her, that’s all she’ll want. Don’t feel you need to tell her about her prognosis unless she asks. And even then, you don’t have to answer this, let her doctor or nurse discuss this with her. Just be her son and do what you feel’s right and can cope with.

I hope this has been of some help, and do look after yourself as well. I can see from our forum we have got some lovely members who have offered their support. I know we can’t change anything for you, but you are more than welcome to get back to us or if you prefer you can speak with one of us directly. Our telephone number is 0808 800 4040, we are here from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Best wishes


Re: Is it normal for not telling only a few days are left?

8 Dec 2017 18:24 in response to CRUK Nurse Georgina

Thank you all. Thank you, it helps. Today she was better, I didn't have the heart to tell her. 

We are talking a lot within the family. That is good, I think. Still nobody knows what exactly to do, but we are talking about it. 

Thank you for the links. It is a hard read Sad But I need to prepare myself.