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Need Help With A Very Tough Decision


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I apologize ahead of time if this is not the right place for my post. I don't know where else to go. I have such a hard decision ahead of me and really need some advice.

I will try to make this short. As many of you know my parents died of AIDS. At the time we made the decision to keep their illness, private. Very private. Right or wrong, I don't know. This site is the only place I have ever talked openly about it, not even my closest friends know the truth. Even my two children do not know the truth. My 20 yr old daughter has now become involved with a 29 yr old man, I cannot tell you how many red flags and baggage this man has. It's breaking my heart. She has changed so much , her grades , her attitude, her interests...etc. I have friends that tell me, its just a phase, "we all acted out and were rebellious"...etc. And yes, that's true, BUT..back in my wild days, we didn't have HIV to worry about. I want to tell her the truth about my parents. I want her to have every bit of information that she can possibly have as she grows up and makes her own decisions, good or bad. I have always said I wish there was something I could do to help educate people about HIV, so that what happened to my parents would never happen to anyone else'. How can I do this if I can't even tell my own daughter ? I feel like I am keeping something from her that one day could save her life. My husband doesn't want to tell her. He doesn't want to destroy happy memories or deal with the anger she will have towards my parents or us for not telling her. She goes back to school in 5 days. Do I tell her and then send her back to school to deal with this on her own?

Chia, Emptyinside, if I remember correctly, you are both college age people, any insight you could share with me?

I know I wasn't much help to my kids when my parents were dying, I wasn't available to them , my own pain and grief isolated me from them....I will live with that the rest of my life, so I have to be there for them now and do what-ever it takes to protect them. Right?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks so much for listening.

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That is a very tough descision. I had a friend that died from Aids as well and he kept it a secret from all but a few very close friends. I was one of the privlaged ones to know as we shared an apartment together. There is so much information out there about Aids that I don't know if it would benifit her to know or not. Now days, it is talked about in schools and such so she should already be aware of the precautions needed to prevent contracting it. I think that telling her right now may affect her school work and such. If I were going to tell her it would be when she will be home for awhile. I hope this helps.

Love always

Derek

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Oh Annie yup this is a tough one. However... I tend to agree that she should know. I don't think her knowing will destroy her memories. In fact I doubt that is possible. Her fond memories of them will always be with her. The fact that AIDS is what they died of is nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion.

For me.. honesty is real important. I have been honest with my kids about everything. They know my frailties and character flaws because I tell them. When they asked certain things about their grandparents.. I tell them the truth. (and they have asked some pretty tough ones.. but I swallowed hard.. and told them anyway.) I have been that way with our kids because I want very much for them to be honest with us. And I cannot ask that of them without doing it myself. And I also do not want my kids to put me or anyone on some tall pedestal that is unrealistic and unhuman.

In a way, yes, you are keeping something from her that could save her life or someone else's life if you do not tell her. Because it is only human to think these things happen to "other people" not to us. It is important I think to let her know that this can indeed happen to us or anyone else.

Aside from the boyfriend issue though, I'm concerned that she may want to know why this information has been kept from her. So I would be prepared to answer that one as well. And if she gets angry about it.. I would allow her those feelings.. it's ok. You as parents refrained from telling her before now because you thought that was best. Now... you think differently. That's all. But keep in mind she may not be angry at all too. I guess you won't know til when or if you tell her. It's another important lesson for her that everyone decides the best they can at the time with what they know. And when they know differently.. they can do different. No one is perfect; we all just do the best we can with what we know at the time. The more we know... the better off we are.

You have 5 days before she goes back to school. If you both put the time in to this discussion and stay in good touch when she leaves I don't see why you couldn't let her know now. She won't be dealing with this on her own if you two are in touch throughout the semester on a regular basis.

Somehow your parents contracted AIDS; it was what they died of and I believe she has a right to know that. If you want to tell her.... then I would think that it is the right thing for you to do.

I think going with your instinct on this is probably right on.

Wish you all the very best with whatever you decide.

leeann

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Annie I believe they should be told the truth, although they are probably alot smarter than you think and may already know. I believe in complete honesty, and at that age they still think that things like that can't and won't happen to them or people they know and need to realize these things can and will happen if they are not careful. What was it they were told they died of in the beginning and how close together in time did they die? I believe the worst part was in them dying in the first place and I am so sorry this happened, but I think you will all feel better if the truth was brought out and you can all talk about it openly and honestly. The best of luck to you !

Love,

Wendy

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Thanks so much for your replies. Everyone has so many good points and advice.

Part of me wishes we had just been honest at the beginning, but my mom didn't want anyone to know, especially her grandchildren. I think that's why we did the things we did. Honestly, when I first heard their diagnosis, I was so shocked, I couldn't put 2 thoughts together, let alone figure out how to help my kids with the truth. I went into survival mode and did all I could do to help my parents. I had so many questions and so much anger, sadness, I couldn't begin to know how to help my kids if I told them back at the beginning.

Wendy- my parents died 10 months apart and yes, I think my kids know there is more to what they have been told. And I agree, they are at the age when they think nothing bad could possibly happen to them. I know they will be angry with me for not tellng them. But, I did the best that I could at the time, I was watching my parents die, basically at the same time and I thought I was protecting my kids. Its always been in my head that it wasn't "if" I tell my kids, but "when"..but now that that time is approaching , I am so sad and afraid.

Leeann- I agree, AIDS is nothing to be ashamed of. But sadly not everyone agrees with that. I saw first hand the stigma that goes along with this disease. I saw people at the hospitals and nursing home, come into to talk to my mom, dressed in full biohazard gear, face masks, 2 pairs of gloves etc...I saw people afraid to touch my mom, they put signs on the doors, telling people to check with the nurses before entering....etc. I understand the fear and for people who do not know much about HIV/AIDS, it can be very scary. I brought in people to talk to the nursing staff and physcial therapy people, I wanted everyone to understand it was okaytp touch my mom, to hug my mom or hold her hand. Things did change, but I did not want my kids to see my mom feeling ashamed.

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Annie you did what your Mom requested and you should be proud of that, but unfortunately they are gone now and you need to do what you feel is best for you and for your children and I think I know what your decision is going to be by reading what you have written. Do you know how we always say the anticipation of the event or the date is always worse than the actual event itself? You may find that it applies here also, if it were me, and I know it isn't, I would want to get this off my conscience and get it out in the open now and move on. I can tell this has been eating at you and that is not good, do what you think is best for yourself and for your children, and please let us know how it is going.

Love You,

Wendy

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Annie - I'm probably going out on a limb here, since i don't have kids. But to me, there's two options - tell them now, and they'll be upset with you, and probably with your parents, or don't tell them now, in which case later on they'll be upset because you didn't tell them. Aids is not a stigma, it's not something to be embarrassed about! It's a disease, plain and simple. I don't think there's any avoiding the pain, or the memories you and your kids have about your parents, by not telling them. Secrets in families have a way of getting out - so my thoughts are to tell the truth. You might be surprised in how they deal with it. I wish you all the best - Love, Marsha

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Dear Annie,

I understand your fear of the stigma surrounding your parents' deaths. My husband died from complications of Hepatitis C and that is considered a drug addict's or alchoholic's disease. I still think twice when asked what he died from before telling people, and then I am quick to add that he contracted it from a blood transfusion. Aids is one of those illnesses that will affect all of our lives, much the same as cancer. How many of us don't know of someone who died from either? If your 20 year old daughter is seeeing a man that is 29, she is no longer a child and can handle the realities of life. And I'm sure when you explain that you were trying to honor your parent's wishes in keeping their secret, she will understand. Our job as parent's has always been to take care of our children. You've done just that. It was important for her to know the love of her grandparents, without shame of something that she may of heard of from her peers. I have a feeling she'll react not so much as to what you are telling her, but your reasons for telling her now. So, have some answers ready. I wouldn't wait, though. She's still the one you are trying to protect and knowledge is powerful when it comes to living responsibly.

Kath

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