Reply: You Name The Topic

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Not sharing information
Posted by: 4Hope Posted on: 2002/11/16 20:33
Dear Jennifer,
I am so sorry for your sorrow and for how hard this time must have been for you and your family. It's almost impossible to know what your father was thinking during those two years or so, but I can share with you what Mike and I have seen time and again with families who are facing end-of-life issues . . . especially when the patient goes on Hospice care.

Sometimes, it's the family that asks the Hospice representative to not tell their loved one that they have a prognosis of six months or less to live. The family generally wants to protect their loved one from the painful reality of their failing health.
Sometimes, it's the patient that doesn't want their loved ones to know that they are dying because they want to protect their family from the reality of their decline.
Generally, in both cases, people just want to protect their loved ones from having to go through any more pain than they have to . . . their intentions are usually well-meaning and based in love.
Unfortunately, sometimes, family and patients would rather know the truth and deal with the consequences of sorrow and pain than be kept in the dark regarding the future. Jennifer, I've seen this happen so many times with genuinely loving families who simply can't bear that they or a loved one is dying and would rather keep it to themselves than to burden their loved ones.

As I mentioned earlier, although we have no way of knowing why your Dad kept this to himself, I can tell you that for many folks, the reason is to protect loved ones from pain and from burdening them . . . perhaps it is a person's way of gaining some sense of control over an otherwise chaotic prognosis. At least this way, they feel that although they cannot stop their declining health, they CAN diminish some of the pain by shielding loved ones from their pain.

I do hope that this helps a little, Jennifer. Mike and I would be able to share many examples of times when truth telling would have helped family members plan for the future if they had known the prognosis . . . it seems like this would have helped you, too. Please take care and keep in touch . . . perhaps someone else has experienced this in their families, too. If so, let us know how this affected you and your family . . .
Barb and Mike