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  • In denial



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    My mother in law who is also my best friend as been asked if she wants to know her life expectancy she’s also been asked if she would like to discuss end of life along with other decisions connected with this, her answer is a definite NO. She is in absolute denial & im not sure where to go from here, although I know from reading up not to push her I don’t want these decisions to be taken out of her hands when the time comes. I’ve been to the appointments with her so know exactly what’s been said but her denial makes even me question myself. I don’t know what to do??

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  • Elin

    Hello Kelly28,


    Welcome to the Marie Curie Community and thank you for sharing your experience with us and others. We are sorry to read about your mother in law’s diagnosis and all that you are going through. Coping with a diagnosis can cause a range of different emotions for everyone involved and, understandably, when a loved one is reluctant to discuss their wishes, it can be very difficult. If someone doesn’t talk about their illness, accepting and respecting their wishes can be challenging and it is normal not to know what to do.


    Understandably, you are concerned that important decisions may be taken out of her hands, and it sounds like you are doing your best to support her through this experience. Some people don’t want to think or talk about these things and can find it difficult to acknowledge that they will die one day. Denial can be a way for people to cope with their illness and forcing them to talk may not be the best thing for them. This may not be a conscious decision, but a gut reaction to the news she has received.


    If they don’t want to talk about their future plans, it is important to try to be understanding. It may be helpful to explain why you want to talk but not to push them to if they don’t want to. There could be lots of reasons they choose not to talk, including feeling scared about dying and protecting you from being upset. Some people hide their feelings from those closest to them because they worry about being a burden. They might talk more openly about their diagnosis with someone other than their family and friends, like their healthcare team involved. Or perhaps it would help them to speak with a counsellor or therapist.


    As her illness progresses, her perspective may change, and she may be more open to talking – all you can do is be ready to listen and support her if that time comes. It is also important to make sure you are looking after yourself in these emotional times and if you ever need a listening ear, we are here.


    I would also like to share some pages on our website that may be helpful to you:


    If you would like to talk more about your experience, our Marie Curie Community is your safe space, to share as much or as little as you wish and to ask any questions you may have. Hopefully others here on the Marie Curie Community can share their experiences and insights, perhaps talk about ways in which they managed similar situations. Our Support Line is also here for you and if you would like to speak with one of our team with any questions or simply for a listening ear, we are on Freephone 0800 090 2309.


    Take Care,

    Elin - Support Line Officer

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