Social Question

syz's avatar

The best strategy when being the bearer of bad news?

Asked by syz (33570 points ) March 25th, 2014

I’m pet sitting for my mom, her 14 year old doberman rescue that I gave her 13½ years ago. While I had her, I figured I’d give her a senior wellness check and a set of radiographs because I’ve noticed a mild cough while she’s been here.

I found a nodule in her lung, and it’s highly likely to be cancer. She’ll be getting an ultrasound tomorrow to see if it’s primary or secondary (metastatic) and when her bloodwork results come back I may or may not get a ultrasound guided biopsy to confirm (depending on her blood values and her met check).

Mom loves this dog, probably more than she loves my dad. But she’s not likely to pursue chemotherapy (and I wouldn’t either, if she were mine). I’m not going to tell mom while she’s on vacation, but I will when she picks up her dog.

Any suggestions?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

17 Answers

rojo's avatar

When in doubt, honesty is the best policy, and the easiest in the long run and since this is not something that is going to need attention this minute, waiting until the end of her vacation is the best plan. Why ruin her fun time until you have too.

longgone's avatar

So sorry. This must be hard for you, especially as you know the dog, too.

If this were my dog, I would want to be told quickly and clearly. No beating around the bush. I would also want someone to be there for me afterwards. Maybe introducing the idea of a bucket list would make sense? Whatever you do, though, you won’t take the pain away. Your mom will have to deal with this in her own time.

I’m sorry for not being more helpful. Warning: Hugs.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If it were my dog, I’d prefer to hear it as directly as possible.

I’d want the details of how long, in your professional opinion, it’d be before I’d need to make final life decisions and what I could do via home hospice to keep her comfortable in the mean time.

So sorry you’re in this position @syz. We just did home hospice for our 18yr old kitty. There is no easy way to be told the end is near, IMO.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It’s like pulling off a bandaid. I’d prefer someone just come straight out and tell me exactly what’s going on rather than being vague to try and cushion my feelings.

hearkat's avatar

I’m also one to prefer all the facts and let me sort it our and process it. Of course, you know your mom better than any of us do, so consider how she handles such things and also how she delivers bad news herself (since we usually do treat others how we would like to be treated).

ibstubro's avatar

Okay, call me a coward, but I would ease into it a bit. If you blurt it out, you run the risk of overwhelming her, and causing her to not get the full import.

I’m not too sure that a white lie isn’t in order, along the lines of “Have you noticed ‘Doggy’ having a bit of a cough lately? Well, I took her in as a precaution, and the vet says the results will be back in 2 more days. Do you want me to go, do you want to go, or can we go together?” Then give the vet a head-up that he’s to be the bearer of bad tidings (it’s part of his job and training) while you are your mother’s ‘Rock’. Of course, that scenario depends on your Poker Face.

If you have to tell her, I would make a statement and let her ask a question, so that it sinks in. “Doggy seemed to have a little cough, so I had the vet run a few tests.” “What kind of tests?” “Well, you know, check her lungs and stuff….”

Alternately, I can see where you might say, “Looking at Doggy, I was thinking the other day about the day I gave her to you. What a lucky dog she’s been, and how lucky she was to have found you! Who’d of thought back then that you’d have 14 wonderful years together.” At that point, she knows, and you just have to give the details.

Best wishes, and you’re a great daughter.

Pandora's avatar

It really doesn’t matter. There is no magic bullet for getting bad news. Just prepare yourself with all the info she will need for when she is ready to ask more questions as the news sets in. Yes, don’t tell her while she is on vacation. There is nothing she can do while gone and this will only stress her out and make her feel miserable for being away during this time.
See if the vet can give you their number in case she has some questions that you can’t answer. I recently had to put my dog to sleep and there is no time that you will ever feel ready. I’m sure you are also reeling from this news. Give yourself some time to let it sink in before approaching your mom.

Cruiser's avatar

I would just be upfront and tell her that pup has had a great long life and is finally at the end of that journey. Let it sink in and then make plans to decide when enough will be enough for the pup and how and when the final day will be managed. I admire all that you have already done and hope you are strong the day you have to break the news to your mom.

kritiper's avatar

Honesty (above all!) and diplomacy.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I’m sorry for your task, and your own pain.
It is likely that she at least suspects. With a dog that old, and a caring attentive owner, she is bound to have noticed change of some sort. Tell her over a fave beverage/snack, in a quiet setting, with no distractions about. Offer to help her find a new puppy if/when she feels up to it. Be sure to ask her just how she wants to approach the situation.

Symbeline's avatar

I’ll go with @uberbatman. She’ll have to know exactly what’s up, no sense in messing around too much. Get comfortable with your mom, like go have a coffee or something, then tell her.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I want it direct and head on. The situation isn’t going to improve with time. Give me all the quality time I can get with the dog and when it’s time I’ll address it. I have never wanted to be bullshitted.

syz's avatar

Well, hell. Mom just called and my uncle (her brother) just had a pacemaker implanted and during surgery they discovered that he has lung cancer.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Wow, @syz. Just wow.

When she gets home from her vacation I’d use that as the in to the conversation about her dog.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I got nothing. All I can do is shake my head. My heart goes out to you, and your family.

Pandora's avatar

Yep, when it rains, it pours, sometimes. My dog was put down in the end of January and in the last week along, we have had two family members pass away suddenly.
I’m hoping that is the end of bad news for us for at least till the end of the year. Actually, I could use a couple of years.

SnoopyGirl's avatar

@syz How sad. Here you were doing a good thing getting your Mom’s dog a Senior wellness check up and bad news comes back. I feel for you having to give your Mom the news. Let her finish out her vacation and then give her the news on her return. There really isn’t an easy way to tell her. Just be honest and be there for her. Support her decision whatever she chooses to have done to her dog.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther