Processing What it Means

First, let me start by saying that my family and I do not discuss the terminal aspect of Lyn's early on-set Alzheimer's on a daily basis.  Lyn is a daily part of my family's life, however, and my children know she has dementia.  My husband and I try to explain and answer our children's questions in age appropriate ways without hiding the truth from them.  All that being said, my children sometimes surprise me with their thoughts.

Last night, as my little one was getting ready for a bath, I was asked if I was worried.  I assured my child that I was not.  It was a good day and I had no worries.  Taking the hint my child offered, I asked if my child was worried and received an affirmative answer.  I asked what was the cause of the worry.  My child suddenly looked very sad and said "I don't want to die.  I don't want to grow up and die."  We spoke for a bit, talking about how many years my child has to enjoy before worrying about death.  My child then said "I don't want you to die."  Again, I tried to focus on how many years I have to enjoy before I die.  I tried to explain that I need to be much older than Grandma is today before I plan to die.  I anticipated that we'd then list off our family members to see when they will die.  My child did not disappoint and it was interesting to see the order in which our relatives were listed.  My little one was deliberately holding Aunt Lyn to be the last one in and real reason for the list.

"What about Aunt Lyn?  She's going to die and she's not old."
"You're right.  Aunt Lyn is not as old as Grandma but she'll die before Grandma."
"I don't want her to die."
"I don't either but she has a disease that is slowly killing her brain.  Doctors cannot stop it."
"Do I have the disease?" I could honestly answer my child with a "No.  I don't think you do."

My little one asked about when Aunt Lyn will die and got a response of "In a few years."  My child, looped back to the "I don't want to grow up and die" statement but added in "like Aunt Lyn."  Here was my opportunity to break the loop of my child's logic.

"You won't.  You're going to live to be very old.  I bet you live to be 86 or 94 or even 100!"
"I don't want to be 100."
"Why not?"
"I don't like 100."
"Oh!  What number do you like?"
"Good because I'm pretty sure you're going to live to be 10.  What other number do you like?"
"Do you want to live to be 1,000?"
A sweet smile finally creeped onto the face in front of me.  "No.  I want to be 1,001."

With that, the evening's crisis of worry was averted.


  1. He's such a dear child. I would never have imagined this being a worry for him. I love your boys so much, they bring me such joy!


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