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How to comfort my sister about passing away?

 
 
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 07:32 pm
My sister has neuroblastoma, she hasn't got long and she knows it too. She keeps saying she's scared to die, she panics about it, thinks she hasn't had enough time to be a good person. She says she's ready to die, but she doesn't know whats next.

I dont know what to tell her, i really dont. I tried telling her about heaven and that, but she's still terrorfied.

Shes 10 years old, what can i say?
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Type: Question • Score: 12 • Views: 5,806 • Replies: 42

 
View best answer, chosen by AbbieMcKenley
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 07:49 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
welcome to a2k abbie.

I'm not sure that you can do a whole lot but be upbeat and happy while you are together, and try to help her understand that all children are special creatures, and that she is as good a person as she wants to be.

how much older are you than her?
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 07:52 pm
@Rockhead,
Just over 5 years, i'm 15.

And thank you for the welcome.
msolga
 
  3  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 07:56 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
Hello, Abbie.

I'm absolutely no expert in such matters, but my hunch would be that the best comfort you could offer to your sister is to allow her to talk openly, listen ... & respond with openness & warmth to what she has to say.

In your situation I'd seriously consider seeking out advice & support from those who know much more about these things.

Ten years old is very young to be considering such serious matters. That's very sad.
0 Replies
 
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:01 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
I agree with miss O.

and having fun together while she can is something both of you will treasure.

try to keep the serious stuff away sometimes for her, if you can.

good luck and warm thoughts for you over the holidays...

0 Replies
 
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:23 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
Thanks. I guess i'll just have to distract her untill she finds the answer herself. I just feel so bad for her.

Sorry my post was a bit blunt, i just realised.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:24 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
Hi Abbie,

There's not much you can say to your sister beyond what you've already said. None of us "really" knows what comes next but we sometimes think we do. Maybe you can ask your sister to visit you in your thoughts, dreams, waking moments and let you know that she's ok.

She will be, you know. Ok, that is. How are you going to be? Are you ok? Are you preparing to cope with your loss? Losing a sister is hard. It's hard on her. It's even harder on you.

I'm sorry your sister is so ill. Hugs to her as she copes with her illness. Hugs to you too.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:25 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
It wasn't blunt at all. No need to say sorry at all. Smile

What are your parent's thoughts on your sister's situation? Are they helpful to you & what you're coping with?
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  4  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:29 pm
http://www.childrenscancerassociation.org/

I don't know where you're writing from but please check out this ^ site. I've worked with this group for years and can assure you that they're beyond fabulous and they have a lot of resources and information and support.

At 15 you can't be expected to comfort your sister -- you need comfort yourself.
0 Replies
 
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:36 pm
@JPB,
It's a point we've been expecting for 5 years, i can't imagine her not being here but it'll be good to know she'll be better.

@msogla
Don't even go there, my parents are nut jobs.
I love them and everything, but they can't accept what everyone is telling them. Their differcult to talk to, to say the least.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:39 pm
Uh, that breaks my heart. Someone so young should never die!
Hi Abby, there is nothing you can say, but you can comfort her, spend lots
of time with her and give her reassurance in any way you can give.

Perhaps you two like to work on a memory book together. Take pictures
every day and write your thoughts and hopes and dreams in it and share it
with each other.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:49 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
Quote:
Don't even go there, my parents are nut jobs.
I love them and everything, but they can't accept what everyone is telling them. Their differcult to talk to, to say the least.


OK, you know them much better than I do, Abbie. But I'm very sorry to hear this, for your sake & for your sister's sake. It must make you feel very lonely, in this situation you're in right now.
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 08:59 pm
@msolga,
I have 3 siblings, a brother who's 6, and another sister, she's 8.
So i guess i'm not lonely as such, but i don't half wish they'd wake up and actually listen to Lilia. She asked them to let her come home and just be with us and they complianed that the doctors had been "putting stupid idea's in her head".
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 09:04 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
Yes, it would be good if they were prepared to listen, pay attention & help, Abbie. For you & for your sister.
Best of luck, it sounds like you couldn't do more for her if you tried! Smile
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 09:12 pm
@AbbieMcKenley,
It sounds like you may feel like you're being pulled into the middle of what you hear your sister saying and what your parents think is best. Unfortunately, that's a hard battle to wage. And, probably one best not fought.

It's a very difficult situation for all of you. Do you have someone at school you can talk to about your own feelings? Perhaps a favorite teacher or a guidance counselor?
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 09:24 pm
@JPB,
We have a pastoral care lady who i see every wednesday but she's like, non stop sympathy and "i know this is a tough time for you all but you need to see your parents views".
Or she tells me that anger and denial are part of grieving, i mean jez, my sister is still alive!
Obviously i do speak to my friends, but none of them really understand what's wrong with her and they keep telling me that they "reckon she'll get beat it"
Sometimes I think no one actually gets it. Even the doctors don't say what they think.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2009 09:32 pm
@CalamityJane,
CalamityJane wrote:

Uh, that breaks my heart. Someone so young should never die!
Hi Abby, there is nothing you can say, but you can comfort her, spend lots
of time with her and give her reassurance in any way you can give.

Perhaps you two like to work on a memory book together. Take pictures
every day and write your thoughts and hopes and dreams in it and share it
with each other.


Excellent idea. You also might get a tape recorder and ask her if it is okay to just tape some of your every day conversations with each other so you'll be able to hear her voice when ever you need to.

My mom and I did that with her aunt while visiting with her shortly before she passed away at the age of 100. Those dozen or so cassette tapes are some of our most prized treasures. We'd grab those first if there was ever a fire. So much family history and good memories were preserved in those precious moments.


Here are other websites you may find helpful in figuring out how to help your sister be more comfortable and to help her talk about her feelings.

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_2_1x_Discussing_Death_with_a_Dying_Child.asp

http://www.hospicenet.org/html/talking.html


Also, if you happen to have the original Ice Age movie DVD there is a short animation movie called "Bunny" in the extras section. Many counselors and social workers use that animation to help children talk about their questions and feelings.

Here are some reviews about it. Unfortunately, the video is no longer on Youtube. Fox has blocked it.

http://www.squidoo.com/bunny-film

0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  6  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 04:04 am
@AbbieMcKenley,
I think your sister is fortunate to have someone in her family to whom she obviously feels able to speak about exactly how she is feeling.

I get the idea that, as you see it, the rest of the family have not accepted that her death is approaching?

It must be so hard for you, but I think that, in terms of what you should "do", you are already doing it.

It seems that you have helped her to feel that she can say whatever she needs to say, and this is likely to be the most helpful thing for her. You don't need to be able to make her feel better....just give her the chance to name her feelings. This generally helps us to feel better, when done with someone who really listens and really cares.

I really cannot emphasize enough what a gift you are giving your sister in this role.

When she says she doesn't know what's next, do you mean medically/pain management/mechanics of death etc.-wise she doesn't know what's next? Or do you mean what happens after we die-wise?

If the former, I am wondering if you can convey her questions to the medical team, and they can talk to her? Do they know how she is feeling? It would be good if they did. Sometimes kids have all kinds of mis-perceptions about the process of dying that makes them even more scared than adults.

If the latter...oh boy! Sounds as though you guys don't have a specific religious upbringing.

Did you feel able to explore her fears? Is the "I didn't have time to be good "a fear of hell, or grieving over lost life?

If she thinks she was not good, perhaps, after giving her time to express this, you could gently explore all the good things she has done and been. Kids typically feel enormously exaggerated guilt over minor misdoings...if you feel able to go there, you might feel comfortable in saying that, if god exists, he's a dad.....he knows enough to expect that little kids will make mistakes, and forgives them. She may want to share things she did that she didn't get caught for, so give her space for that!

Re after death...something a lot of people find comforting, is to think of the time before they were conceived. Was that awful or scary? Doh...of course not. So...if there is simply oblivion, that isn't gonna be scary either.

Kids often imagine being there to EXPERIENCE oblivion, which doesn't sound all that good.


Is there a counsellor available for her? It is not right that you should be dealing with this alone. I get that you are seeing someone....is it just you?

Is there someone for the family? Could you ask to speak with the unit social worker and express your concerns to them and get some support?







jespah
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 05:18 am
Abbie, welcome.

You're doing good for your sister by just being there and listening to her. Your gift to her is to hear what she has to say.
0 Replies
 
AbbieMcKenley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:49 am
@dlowan,
She's spoken to a priest a couple times, but i don't think she really understood what he was saying, he said that if she died it was because she was to perfect for this world and she insisted that there were other people who were "gooder" than her but they were fine.

She's not worried medically, she's accepted pain as part of life and the docters have been great at making sure she's not hurting.

She has a counciller who's preparing her for whatever might happen but my sister puts a brave face on everything, she wont tell most people what she really thinks.

I think it's just that my family won't discuss death, its like majour taboo here so no, i guess we can't get anyone to come and talk to us as a family because my parents think anyone who says Lilia might die, apparently has given up helping her fight.

It's stupid really but i just want to be able to tell her something.

But thanks, i'll see what she thinks about what you said.

& for the people who reccomended scrap books and such, we've already done those, many of them and have zillions of tape of her with everyone.

And when she says she doesnt have time to be good, i think she means she's scared she hasn't done enough to get into heaven or where ever. Or that she'll go to "hell"

She's not old enough.
 

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