Please help us in making the right decision, it really aches the heart ...
My uncle is about 60 and he has liver cancer and cirrohsis both late stages, and he is now been handed to hospice ..... he lives in the states, and his mom (my grandma) usually visits him in the states (she lives abroad) once a year and spends a couple of months with him ...
Given that he is her youngest, and I could say favorite, she sees him as the youngest and healthiest of her kids (he has elder sisters but all suffering from different illnesses but living with them) ... he is her pride, her backbone, her pet ... you name it ...
She hasn't seen him now for more than 2 years (the covid situation mainly was the factor) ... but since last year he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and he never told her because she would be devastated let alone pressure him in so many ways .... so to take the pressure away from both of them (that is what he believes) he never told her, and he told his sisters and nieces and nephews not to as well ..... during the course of a year, he kept deteriorating, and now he is in his last stages, doctors say he needs to prepare to die and nothing can be done, and they handed him to hospice, who are giving him the soothing care which is meant to let a person die in peace ...
The crazy thing is his mom does not even know he is sick, she thinks he is her healthy young son full of life, the one she always knew, ... she has been nagging for a year now to see him, and they keep giving her excuses so they don't send her to the states, they tell her its covid and its bad and she can't travel ... and she keeps longing to her son and saying she misses him ...
Tell me please, is it right not to tell her until now? .. her daughters say they are scared she will be devastated (which she will of course) .. they are scared something will happen to her (since her health has deteriorated lately, but mainly pscyhologically, she is having so much anxiety, panic attacks and depression) ...
Do you think it is fair to keep her in the dark? Because we believe she cannot handle it and that she will make a difficult situation worse?
Is it better she knows the news if he passes away? Or better to know it now and see him at his worst and be with him?
Please help us make the right decision for our family
Of course, that doesn't mean that nobody *will* - cats tend to make their own way out of bags - but if you want the purist ethical line, there it is. Silence, everybody.
You or others (perhaps a pastor, or someone from the hospice team if he won't listen to family) can dispute this point with him. It will be a devastating blow to his mother to learn that her son took months to die and she was never given the opportunity to take her leave of him or adjust to the situation. But you can't know this: it may be that she will be glad she wasn't told. She may agree, ultimately, that she has been spared months of futile desperation or even false hope.
Another suggestion: ask him to write a letter to his mother that she can be given after his death. He doesn't have to explain himself or his decisions, or write about anything he doesn't want to. But he surely does owe it to his adoring mother to leave some record of farewell to her. All members of armed forces going into active areas are required to do this in case of mishap, and it is well established that last words and thoughts from the child a family has lost is of genuine comfort to the bereaved.
And the fact that your uncles mother lives abroad, she should be given the opportunity to come see him one last time, to say to him what she feel she needs to. It may be too late from what you're describing for her to make it here in time, but she should be given the choice herself. Perhaps you can at least let her facetime with him, before he dies.
No one wants to have any regrets in their life, and I'm afraid if you keep his mom out of the loop, that you all will have to live with that regret of not being honest with her for the rest of your lives. Something to think about for sure.
Praying for Gods peace in this situation.
I think uncle is making a big mistake, and I'm sorry to say this, but I think the rest of you are going to bear the brunt of grandma's (justifiable) anger once uncle has passed. She is likely going to feel that she was "robbed" of time with him - and in essence, she kinda was - and if he is her favorite as you say he is, don't be surprised if she takes out her anger on the rest of you for not telling her (even though, yes, that responsibility really rested on uncle himself).
I'm so sorry you are going through this. I'm afraid there are no easy answers here. I can only say that if I were your grandma, I'd want to know as soon as possible, even if the news were to "destroy" me, because that's going to happen either way. It's just not natural to outlive your children, and there's really nothing anyone can do to lessen that blow.
For me, I would be L I V I D if that information was withheld from me 'for my own good' by 'well meaning' family members who thought I was 'too fragile' to handle the information. Considering I gave birth to that child and raised him, is it not my right as a mother to be with him as he takes his last breath, as I was with him when he took his first? I certainly would not let the threat of a virus prevent me from visiting my son, either, especially if he was on hospice care! But that's me, telling you how I would feel, as a mother who has a son, and how I would feel/what I would do if faced with the situation (God forbid).
Let common sense guide you to 'do the right thing' for your grandmother and your uncle's mother. My condolences over the situation you're all facing with your loved one.
I think if I was the person who was terminally ill, and I decided to not tell people, I wouldn't tell anyone. That way, once I had passed, people could be angry at me, and it wouldn't potentially drive a wedge between the people I love, because of some people knowing and having to keep that information from the people I didn't want to know. That's not a fair burden to place on people.
My FIL tried that with me - I happened to be the first one to visit him in the hospital after he was told he was terminal. His words to me, after he told me what the doctor told him - "don't tell anyone." I told him in no uncertain terms I would NOT keep this information from my husband, and that while I understood my FIL's desire to not "upset" anyone, that is was patently unfair to ask me to keep a secret - especially a secret of that magnitude concerning HIS dad - from my husband.
The patient - i.e. the OP's uncle - has made it clear he does not want his mother to be told about his terminal illness and approaching end-of-life. The OP further explains that he has his reasons, which include not only that he does not want to think of his mother's reaction but also - and more importantly - that he doesn't want to have to deal with her grief while he is in the process of dying.
We may think he is wrong, and that it may be (it isn't necessarily) cruel to keep this information from her. But this isn't about her rights, it's about his rights, and he is the one who decides what happens with his information.
He can be encouraged to think again; and he can be encouraged and helped to make some kind of provision for when his mother does have to be told what has happened. But to disclose the information now, without his consent, would be totally unethical and would possibly, probably, make everything much worse and much more painful for both of them.
Perhaps this son is dying from alcoholism as I am not sure what "liver cancer and cirrohsis both late stages" is and/or if possibly caused by alcoholic.
Point being. We do not know the family dynamics.
The son has a right to decide to tell his mother or not.
Rich, I believe needs to step back and be more objective about another family, other points of view.
It is ultimately up to the son, and the family.
I certainly wouldn't get into a 'long letter' about secrecy oaths. The letter needs to be sharing the good times the son and mother shared.
Nothing is black nor white. Life is shades of gray.
You do not know the relationship between this mother and son.
Did you read this part:
"and he never told her because she would be devastated let alone pressure him in so many ways .... so to take the pressure away from both of them (that is what he believes) he never told her."
The son doesn't want either of them to be / feel pressured - he's dying. Does he also need to feel pressured, too?