How can I best support my husband who sometimes seems in denial that his mother is dying?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 12, 2009
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother-in-law is in the late stage of the point where we have just brought her into our home w/hospice care from halfway across the country. Her son, my husband, seems to have accepted where she is one moment, and then a few hours later comments on how well she is doing. How can i keep up being supportive of him, and at the same time preparing myself and our 3 children for the end of life stage?

Expert Answers

Merrily Orsini, MSSW, was a pioneer in the business of providing geriatric care managed in-home care. She currently serves on the board of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and is Chair of the Private Duty Homecare Association. She holds a master's degree in social work and is a nationally known writer and speaker on aging, elder issues, and in-home care.

Get your husband to talk with Hospice, and get a counselor. One of the roles of Hospice is to counsel and provide assistance to those who are having trouble understanding the finality and accepting that this is the end of life for a loved one. Affirming life while respecting the dying process and accepting death as a normal part of life is the key, and Hospice, in addition to nurses and aides, offers a support system to help the patient live as actively as possible until death, and helps family members cope during the patient's illness and in their own bereavement.