Since: Mar 09

Miami, FL

#1 May 2, 2013
Dear Amy: My son, who is in his early 30s, has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a terminal illness. Many people know about his illness, but my parents do not know. They can see that he is not well since his body is losing many functions.

My parents observe these symptoms, but now that we have a definite diagnosis we worry about informing my parents about their grandson. They have asked me if he will ever get better, but I didn't give them a yes-or-no answer.

My parents are in their 80s, and although very mentally "with it," their physical health is not great, and they tend to get upset easily and take bad information very hard. Recently my mother landed in the hospital with an anxiety attack.

They are also not easy to fool. They suspect people try to keep bad news from them and are very alert to all that happens around them.

I think we should relate the unfortunate diagnosis. Others in the family believe that, by informing them of a terminal diagnosis, we are not only taking away any hope from them, but opening the possibility of a very negative medical impact on them. I am also concerned that someday someone may slip or my parents may find out on their own, so I feel that it is best to tell them.

Should we just proceed as we have been doing and not say anything, or should we tell them and if so, how? Sad Mother

Dear Sad: My
thoughts are with you and your son. You don't say what he wants to do, but you should do what is best for him and for you. If your son tells you he doesn't have the strength to deal with his grandparents' stress, then absolutely shield him from it.

However, I believe that most people are able to adjust to a tough outcome if they know the truth but also have a positive function to perform. In your case, you might say, "Steve has ALS. He is heading down a very challenging road because this is a progressive disease. He will do best if he has our love and support and a positive attitude. Can you help by accepting this, not worrying too much and cheering him on?"

Dear Amy: A year ago, my loving son (who is an excellent optometrist in a town an hour away) became very upset with me when I used a local optometrist.

I used the local optometrist because I knew my son was overwhelmed. I explained to him that I was trying to make life simpler for him. I knew he would find a way to see me on his lunch hour or after-hours.

He was upset about this for a long time and said I had really hurt his feelings by not using him. We moved on and do not discuss it anymore.

After a year, I need to get my eyes checked again; they need more and more attention.

What should I do? Go back to my son (who is now as busy as ever) or use a local optometrist? This may seem like a minor problem, but I am at a loss. Farsighted

Dear Farsighted: You must do what is best for your own health. Your son has already been honest, and you may have to accept his hurt feelings as a simple reality and realize that you cannot practically do anything about it. He may feel less slighted if you ask him for a local referral, but do not bow to pressure actual or perceived. He should support your best interests.

Since: Mar 09

Miami, FL

#2 May 2, 2013
L1: I say tell them. This secret is too much of a burden and they could end up finding out from someone else and that would be much worse. Give them the truth so they can say their goodbyes.

L2: This is your SON and you need to ask Amy how to talk to him?


“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#3 May 2, 2013
L1: Amy had a very good way of telling them. I'd tell them that way. Then brace yourself.

L2: Go see whatever eye doctor you want. You don't have to mention it to your son. The way you take care of your health is your personal business.
not a ghost

San Antonio, TX

#4 May 2, 2013
Aren't doctors and nurses supposed to ask relatives
to go to medical care givers who are not family?

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#5 May 2, 2013
1 Tell them, one less lie you have to carry.

2 I dont know why your kid has his panties in a twist, but use him and be a total dooshe of a customer.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#6 May 2, 2013
LW1: Tell them and then shield your son from their drama as best you can.

LW2: I think asking for the referral will help but you need to explain that with the increasing number of visits you will need to be making, traveling an hour each way is just going to be too much for you. Hopefully he will see the sense in that.

“boredom made me do it”

Since: Aug 08

ny, ny

#7 May 2, 2013
"I need you to be my son, not my doctor."

And if that's not enough, ask him if he doesn't trust any other doctors, doesn't trust you to be competent about who you choose to see, etc.

The "all about me" guilt trip - you didn't buy a ticket for it. Stay off the train.

“FD&S is no way to be.”

Since: Feb 13

United States

#8 May 2, 2013
1. Good grief, tell them. I can't believe this is an issue.

2. I think your son is a selfish dum dum for expecting you to drive an hour to see him. If I was in his position, I would tell you that I'd be glad to have you, but I certainly do not expect you to inconvenience yourself so much to see me for something so trivial.

Since: Jan 10

Location hidden

#9 May 2, 2013
L1: Here's a radical idea: Be honest and open with other adults about their loved one's terminal diagnosis. Stop trying to protect them. They made it to 80 despite your belief that they are delicate creatures.

I also don't support having a bunch of people know something but a few people are being kept in the dark. We'e seen it in letters about families that haven't told their kid he's adopted, but all the cousins/aunts/uncles know. At that point, it's not a secret; it's a conspiracy.

L3: This rehash is months-old. Scrape off the mold and refry it.

“It made sense at the time....”

Since: May 09

Itasca, IL

#10 May 2, 2013
[QUOTE who="animaniactoo] The "all about me" guilt trip - you didn't buy a ticket for it. Stay off the train.[/QUOTE]

I like this... i'll have to keep this in mind...

Since: Mar 09

Miami, FL

#11 May 2, 2013
RedheadwGlasses wrote:
We've seen it in letters about families that haven't told their kid he's adopted, but all the cousins/aunts/uncles know. At that point, it's not a secret; it's a conspiracy.
THIS. And definitely a higher potential downside than upside.

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#12 May 2, 2013
LW1: Tell them.

LW2: Just go see your son

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