Advice please


My mum is 83 and and has just recently asking about her brother and sisters who have all passed away she has never asked this before.

Should I be concerned?

Ive explained that they all passed away many years ago.

Stephen hi - this is obviously a very personal issue, but one of the things often recommended (out of compassion) on this forum is the strategy of ‘kind lies’…

Whilst yes, of course, telling the truth is ‘best’, sometimes, for the sake of our loved ones nearing the ‘sunset’ of their lives, the kindest thing is to tell them ‘kind lies’…out of compassion for them.

you don’t say whether your mum has dementia, but remembering people who are ‘long gone’ from their lives, and thinking they are still there, is not uncommon in dementia.

But even without ‘formal dementia’ it isn’t surprising, after all, that as we reach towards our ‘sunset’ we want to ‘bring the circle complete’ and think about and remember those who were important in our lives - and who ARE still important to us emotionally.

Does your mum get distressed or upset when you tell her that her brothers and sisters are long gone? If she isn’t getting upset, she may just want to ‘know’ what has happened to them - perhaps she has genuinely forgotten, or isn’t sure? Providing she isn’t upset by you when you tell her, then I would say just to stick to that.

But if she is getting upset or confused, then maybe the ‘kind lies’ could help both her and you? You could maybe tell her the last that you remember of them, such as, eg ,’ Oh, Auntie Jean lives in Cardiff, remember? She moved there years ago! We saw her when we visited that summer?’ (time may not mean much to her - keep it vague). Maybe then say something else about Auntie Jean (eg ‘She loves marzipan! I always think of her at Christmas when we have our cake because of that!’)…then maybe move the conversation on?

With or without dementia, I do think towards the end of our lives we do remember our childhoods far far more vividly, and our youth too. And I do think, only speaking personally, that there is a ‘circle of life’ element to it - as if we are coming ‘full circle’ again with our lives…‘in my end is my beginning’.

My own mum, in the year she died, used to say ‘I keep dreaming of Granny (her grandmother had brought her up as a child)…I think she’s calling to me.’

What it all boils down to, though, I truly believe, is making your mum feel as ‘happy’ as she can be, and if talking about her brothers and sisters is making her happy, then let her do so, and if not, then try and say something ‘kind but vague’ and move the subject on as best as possible.

Remember too, mabe, that at the end of our lives we are not that interested in the future …???