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Father-In-Law In Hospice Care

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I am new to this site and am hoping to find some comfort and suggestions for working through the next few weeks/months. My father-in-law is 80 years old and came back from Florida for the summer in early July. He chose not to tell his children how his prostate cancer had spread to his spine, hip and bladder. He chose not to tell us that he had refused treatment in Florida (perhaps due to cost, perhaps due to misinformation, perhaps due to poor guidance, perhaps by choice not to prolong things). So his 3 children and their spouses and children were in shock as we discovered just how serious his condition is. On July 3 he went to the hospital in extreme pain and 1 week later he refused all treatment and was admitted to an inpatient Hospice program. He has declined steadily over the last 2 weeks. One of us tries to visit him daily (he lost his wife in 2005). I was with him last night and had some very special moments with him. However, he is not very alert and has some symptoms of dementia, probably due to the drugs. It is sad to see him go and we are working through various stages of acceptance with various family members. I am trying to help by organizing visits becasue I am a do-er and a fixer and that is how I am coping. If anyone has any suggestions for helping his daughters cope with losing their dad it would be helpful. They are not coping as well as his son and I are.

Also, any exercises or techniques we can use to process the grief during this time would be appreciated.


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I'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law and of the situation that has been thrust upon you and your family. As you've found out, sometimes when we try to shield our loved ones from pain, we actually do the opposite.

While I would also point you to the same thread as Marty, I'd like to add a couple of other ideas for you. You might consider getting a nice journal for your spouse and letting her know that it should be used as a grief journal. I've found journaling to be a very powerful tool when working through grief. It is a private action that allows one to spill all of those emotions, all of that garbage one is feeling, onto the page - as well as serving as a tool to help clarify those feelings. It has been a great tool for me when I've gone through loss of my own. For the doers of the family, you may wish to start organizing final arrangements (ie: gathering necessary paperwork for selling property, finding insurance paperwork, locating bank accounts, thinking about or making funeral arrangements, etc.) While these are things you may or may not want to discuss with your father-in-law, they may help you feel like you are doing something "productive" as well as giving you control over part of the situation.

One quick and easy read that I would recommend is "Tuesday's With Morrie." It deals with one man's struggle with the impending death of his mentor. It is a very entertaining read that has a lot to say about anticipatory grief, but be cautioned that it is not a step-by-step self-help book. It is truly a story. However, it may speak to your situation. You may wish to read it yourself, or give it as a gift to one of your family members.

I hope that this helps. Again, I am sorry to hear about your father-in-law. I will keep your family in my thoughts.


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Thanks so much for the ideas. The journaling sounds like it may be very helpful. My father-in-law passed away yesterday, so we are in the thick of arrangements. I am finding it difficult this morning. I woke up at 2 AM and could not get back to sleep. My husband and his 2 sisters spent the evening in a family meeting about final arrangements, etc. I was at home alone. I understand their need to do this among themselves but it was very hard to be alone last night.

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