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How to Prepare My Son For Death of Terminally Ill Father?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Teenagers Teens Teen Terminal Illness

Q.

How do I prepare my 13 year old son for the eventual loss of his father.

My 45 year old husband has become terminally ill and the doctor says there's not much chance of him recovering. I don't know how we must deal with this information.

(AK, 8 February 2009)

A.

Teenagers are caught in the middle of childhood and adulthood. On the one hand they are still dependent on their parents for their livelihood but on their other they are beginning to discover and assert themselves in order to build their own futures. When it comes to the illness of a teen's parent, there is no way to know how that teen will cope with the information. But, teens do deserve to know if one of their parents is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Telling your son that his father has become terminally ill is important so that your family can remain as open and honest as possible with each other during this difficult time. If possible, yourself and your husband should present the facts of the matter together. It is likely that your son will have questions, so be prepared to answer them. Don't tell him that he doesn't need to know something, or that he shouldn't worry himself about things. The fact of the matter is that he wants to know and he'll worry anyway, so helping him towards understanding his new reality is key to helping him come to terms with it.

Your son will probably have some questions that only your husband can answer, such as how your husband feels about facing death and if there is anything that your husband particularly wants to do with his time left. Allow your husband and son time to talk about these matters. Try not to feel as though you are being shut out or that they are keeping secrets from you. No doubt your son will come to you for comfort and understanding in the future, so remember that you are a vital source of strength and support for him as well.

Regardless of their ages, many children feel an intense pressure when they find out that a parent is terminally ill. They may feel that they need to be perfect in order to make their parents' last days/weeks/months as nice as possible. They may feel guilty, that if only they had done something or not done something then their parents would not be ill. They may feel frightened, and ashamed of feeling frightened when they know that their parents are feeling even worse. Make it clear to your son that it is normal to feel many mixed emotions about this topic, and that you are willing to talk about any of them with him.

It may be that your son finds it hard to open up to you or your husband. If this is the case, offer alternative adults with whom he can discuss the situation. Members of the clergy, teachers, coaches, relatives and mental health professionals are all excellent options to help teens cope with the news of terminal illness in their families.

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I purchased a headstone for my father last yr. The cemetery grounds keeper/Manager broke it and installed it broken anyways. They offered zero compensation nor did they refund me the 700 they charged me to install it. I had to file a small claims suit in which the judge awarded me monetary damages. Upon the verdict the ALL of the grass on my fathers plot was cut and removed out of spite. They sent the court ordered check but also included a letter stating upon receiving this check you agree to the following: 1.The headstone and all of its components are now property of THEIRS. 2.The installer on the replacement headstone must be lic. insured and bonded and give 3 days notice (which is standard practice) 3. As a ALONE WOMAN you cannot walk around the cemetery in sections other than the ones you own a plot in. and the list continues. I hired an installer and the cemetery manager scared him off so I had to hire installer #2. The cemetery manager called him too and told him I sued them in court. He proceeded to tell him that the judge made a mistake and is sending him documents stating he is the new owner of the headstone(not true) This installer is not going to be scared off like installer #1 was.However he refuses to allow him to drill and pin the granite vases which prevents theft and refuses to allow him to drill into the base and install the rods that permanently attach the base to the foundation because again, he states their his property. The installer now refuses to do anything with the headstone other than pour the cement and put the headstone back in place. My questions are, is this enough for a retaliation case, can he dictate what I can and cannot do to the headstone I own? Can he discuss our small claimslawsuit with my installer without my permission and lie about the facts?
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