He's in pain & I don't know what to say
Jul 2, 1997
My oldest son has AIDS. Now he is very sick. He almost died a few months ago, but he has recovered somewhat. I have a lot of questions. I don't know what to say to him when he's in pain and I worry that I will say the wrong thing. Is there anything I should be careful not to say?
Response from Mr. Shernoff
The best things you could say to him would be to tell him how much you love him, and that you are sorry he is suffering so. Ask him what he needs from you as his parent. Ask him how you can be most helpful to him during the illness. Each day, ask him if he wants to talk about being sick, or if he would rather discuss things that might help take his mind off of what he is going through. He is the expert on what he needs. He has lost control over so many aspects of his life and of his body. By your asking him and giving him options you are empowering him. Most of all do not lie to him. Do not try to hide that you are hurting also. After all you are in pain because your child is sick and there is not much you can really do to help him get better. But you can do a lot to insure that he has as good a quality of life as possibile during this final phase of his illness. In addition you can help insure that he dies well. This means surrounded by people who love him, and that he is not in pain. If he is in pain a lot, then he is not being properly medicated for his pain. Ask his permission to call his doctor and ask for stronger pain medication. You mentioned that he is your oldest son.
Does his brothers and sisters come to visit? Do friends? You could encourage the people your son loves to come and spend time with him. I really respect you for being there for your son. Too many other parents have abandoned their son because of feeling ashamed of how he may have got the illness. He is lucky to have you as a parent.
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