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Thinking about a Child Whose Mother May Be Dying

Question: I have a godson, and I am close to his mom. She is very sick and might die. Would you talk about how to think about him in this situation?

Tim Jackins[1]: It is important that someone decide to handle this situation with him—not simply hope that things turn out okay for him [result in being okay for him]. He needs a full picture of what is happening and needs to be able to talk with someone and show how it hits [affects] him. You want to give him your best picture of the reality of the situation, including all the uncertainties. It doesn’t help to kindly mislead. Doing that assumes that he can’t understand it.

You have to have worked on your own distresses about the situation so that they don’t creep into what you are communicating. You can show your caring and concern, but he needs you to not need a counselor when you are talking with him. He needs you to tell him about the situation, not necessarily all at once, and be able to listen to him tell you how it is for him.

In addition to the possibility of a real loss, many earlier distresses are probably going to be restimulated by this. A likely one is feeling alone and wondering what it will be like if his mother dies. He will need to know that someone will still be with him. Maybe that is you, and if it is, he needs to hear it from you—more than once.

He will also need to understand that his relationship with his mother may need to change, since she may not be able to offer everything she did before. You can offer to be the person he has permission to be upset with, about anything. You can encourage him to yell at you about everything that is wrong in his world.

You can also encourage him to lead and support his mother in the rest of her life. How can the two of them work to have the best possible life together, no matter how long it is?


[1] Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the RC Communities.


Last modified: 2019-01-03 22:21:01+00