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How to support husband with dying father

(22 Posts)
icbn2802 Thu 20-Apr-17 06:28:05

I learnt just yesterday that my FIL has terminal cancer. He's been poorly for the last few months but after having a scan has now been told that he has 'just a few months' which is obviously devastating news to all concerned.
My husband has always been a strong person with a positive attitude. I'm seeing another side to him and I'm not sure the best way to console him. Is it best to keep talking being chatty & upbeat like normal or keep quiet saying very little letting him just unburden & cry on my shoulder. I feel so nervous about getting it wrong.

janeainsworth Thu 20-Apr-17 06:42:15

I feel for you icbn. It's very hard having to cope with such a situation. Your DH will be feeling shocked and upset.
I would say take each day as it comes and don't 'try' too hard. Take your cue from how your DH is and let him be sad when he wants to. Try to do as much as you can for, and with, FiL while you still can.
In a similar situation last year, we were still able to take MiL out for lunch and to get her hair done until a couple of weeks before the end.
This is a link to a radio programme with Kath Mannix, a palliative care consultant, which we found very helpful.

morethan2 Thu 20-Apr-17 07:43:41

I don't know what to say to help. I should because my MiL died recently after a long illness. We knew it was coming and the anticipation took its toll. In lots of ways it's made us much closer. Most of the time we were able to cope but there were days when one or both of us were overwhelmed. Those were the days when one or the other would take over the daily boring jobs. Honestly a cup of tea and the comfort of just sitting next to each other worked best. If he wanted to talk I listened if he didn't we just drank the tea. Don't worry about getting it wrong. There is no right or wrong way as long as your there to love and support him through this difficult time. Oh and look after yourself. flowers

Christinefrance Thu 20-Apr-17 07:59:36

Yes I agree with other posters, there is no right or wrong way to help with this. Be supportive,take time to talk about things. Some days your husband will not want to discuss things others he will so take your cue from him. Do not shy away from difficult topics such as the moment of death or pain relief etc. Some people want to talk about their impending death others don't, again take your cue from your father in law. As morethan said take care of yourself too.
My sympathies to you and your family. flowers

celebgran Thu 20-Apr-17 08:43:18

It's horrid situation lost my beloved f imlaw 8 years ago still miss him dreadfully

In some ways it worse knowing limited time left, just be there and acknowledge it will make him sad and out of character at times,

My dh is very stiff upper lip only seen him cry at his mums funeral and when we lost a beloved pet.

His dad and I were unusually close as I lost my own father at sixteen.

Just be there to listen and keep quiet when he just wants to it's hard but you will cope he is lucky as worrying you will get it wrong means you are kind and thoughtful so unlikely to

Flossieturner Thu 20-Apr-17 09:18:05

Obviously everyone is different in how they handle this situation, so I am only speaking from my point of view. When my dad was dying, I would not have wanted DH to be bright and carry on as normal. I would have thought that as trivialising the awful thing that was happening.

Quiet solicitude, a bit of spoiling and giving space to grieve. Trying to prepare yourself for a death is very hard. Watching them in pain and seeing the fear in their eyes when visiting tears you apart. A shoulder to cry on and letting him know you understand how hard it is, would be the way forward for me.

radicalnan Thu 20-Apr-17 10:50:50

It is so hard..........varies every day and throughout the day too. Grief is the price we pay for loving. At least you have each other, make sure they say the things they need to say to each other. I am so glad i was able to say a proper goodbye to my dad..........and just be there.

Humbertbear Thu 20-Apr-17 10:54:48

Give your husband space and time to come to terms with it in his own way. I'm sure he knows you are there for him. My husband quite likes it when I remember anecdotes about his parents.

kittylester Thu 20-Apr-17 11:07:47

I think humbert has it spot on. You will do the right tjing naturally, I'm sure! rugby

kittylester Thu 20-Apr-17 11:08:22

Not flipping rugby but flowers - sorry.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Thu 20-Apr-17 11:39:30

It's always difficult at times like these and there will inevitably be times when you get it wrong - you're human after all.
All you can do is offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
There'll also be times when he won't want to talk about it and he'll prefer to shut himself off - which will make you feel a bit useless. We all deal with grief in different ways and within the same family you'll find differences. You can only go with the flow and in time it won't feel so raw. flowers

RAF Thu 20-Apr-17 11:43:53

JaneAinsworth that was a lovely programme, not heard that before, thank you for the link. Sadly as a nurse I have seen some deaths that weren't peaceful, but it is reassuring to hear that most of them are. I think the suggestion of going in and just saying 'what would you like to talk about today?' is brilliant.

And don't expect the bereavement process to follow a set course, it is different for everyone. Some want to talk, others take many months to get to that stage. Try not to take the anger stage personally, reassure constantly through the guilt stage, and hopefully it will bring you both closer together.

Norah Thu 20-Apr-17 15:41:43

I was quiet support, waited for my husband to talk about his parents. Remaining normal seemed to work.

kittylester Thu 20-Apr-17 16:45:00

My mum has recently died and, although I had a strange relationship with her, it was my mum and she was ill. DH listened, agreed, laughed and was just there when I needed him. Seriously, it will come naturally, especially if you like her too.

kittylester Thu 20-Apr-17 16:45:28

Like him too, sorry! flowers

celebgran Thu 20-Apr-17 17:06:30

Kittykester sorry for your loss?

hulahoop Thu 20-Apr-17 18:23:22

Let him decide some like to talk and share memories like I do but others don't my oh tends to go quiet so I let him be until he is ready to talk .

icbn2802 Fri 21-Apr-17 09:45:51

I'm finding the situation really tough. My husband is continuing to talk at which point I will always sit & listen even though at times I just don't know what to say. I am glad that he's talking & continues to be as strong as he can.
My FIL is going home from hospital this afternoon. His wishes to spend his time in a place he feels most comfortable, his home. I will be going with my husband to visit him this weekend, which could very sadly but undoubtedly be for the last time. I'm full of emotion just thinking about this. How do I keep my composure? I just know I'm going to break down.

kittylester Fri 21-Apr-17 12:15:14

We went to see a dying friend and I was terrified of breaking down - I did and he was lovely about it and said he was pleased to see I would miss him. grin He had always been a charmer and it was good to see that he was, in essence, the same person.

I think the thought of being there will be worse than the reality.

You husband will understand you are a bit lost too - it's not something you have experienced before.

Why will it be the last time you see him?

Thank you celeb

suzybe Sat 22-Apr-17 15:10:19

Just be there. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer so I spent a lot of time with my parents doing what was necessary. It was great to go home and know that I could talk if I wanted or just sit next to OH for a hug. Having the support that meant my parents could stay with us for the last two weeks rather than dad going into a hospice, dad's choice to be with me, was such a help too.
Nobody can ever know if they are seeing someone for the last time, any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and time limits for cancer not set in stone. Just visit as you would if he wasn't ill and try to keep the tears back until you've left. Other family members will be struggling to cope and there is plenty of time to grieve afterwards, not while he's still with you.

Caro1954 Sat 22-Apr-17 17:12:48

I hope the visit goes/went better than you feared. I visited a dying friend the other day and it honestly was just like when I had visited before - he was the same person as always if a little bit subdued. You're doing everything you can for your husband by just being there and going along with how he is. You'll have your own feelings of loss to deal with so be kind to yourself too.

icbn2802 Thu 27-Apr-17 13:06:09

It wasn't too bad after all that. Did manage to hold it together. Did feel a little choked as we left.
On a more positive note........myself & two of my daughters have just signed up for one of this year's race for life events. Already had £40 donated to my just giving page!!