How Can I Help My Mom When Nana Dies

Question: Dear Luise: I am 12. My nana is going to die any day now. She is fragile and every time I visit her she says the exact same thing from the last time. Her mind is going to putty. I think about her all the time and I’ve even tried praying for her. I know when she goes my mom will be a mess. What do I do? K.

Answer: Dear K.: You are already way ahead of where you think you are in helping your mom by being concerned about her. Many people your age are so self-absorbed that they are not at all interested in what those near and dear are experiencing…unless they are inconvenienced by it.

Your mom will need you to understand that she may not be herself for a while. She may be off-balance in a number of different ways to include but not limited to being tearful, forgetful, inconsistent, angry and depressed. Yes, she’ll be a mess.

She has never known life without her mother in it. She probably can’t imagine what that will be like even though she grew up and moved away from home a long time ago.

You can help her by being patient when she flounders around trying to get her emotional footing. You can’t fix her and it wouldn’t be your job to do that, even if you could…this is her issue, but you can lessen the strain by being as cooperative as you can without stuffing how you feel and what you need. Don’t do that or there will be two people in trouble at your house.

For a while, you might want to take on helping her more than you usually do because her experience, and it is different for each one of us, may take a lot of her energy. Let her know she doesn’t have to pretend around you. That takes up a lot of energy, too.

If you have the time and the inclination to think of a few, thoughtful, little things to brighten her day, go for it. If that’s not your thing, don’t worry about it. Your being in her life is the greatest gift you can give her. Your concern, as I mentioned at the beginning of my response, is both unusual and refreshing. She is very, very lucky to have a daughter like you in her life. Blessings, Luise

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