Family | Explaining Grandma's Hysterectomy

My mom is having a hysterectomy. How do I explain this to my young son without scaring him?

As his mom, you know your son best. You also understand his relationship with your mom—his grandmother. When you sit down to talk to him, trust your instincts and all you know about him.

You know what your son can and can't understand. As his mom, you know what type of information will ease his mind and what will cause distress. Stay within those boundaries when you talk to him. Use words he understands, even if that rules out some medical terminology.

Basically, you want to find a healthy balance of information. Too much information can overwhelm him, but hiding things from him can create confusion, mistrust, and harmful curiosity. Children are notorious for filling in the blanks with their imaginations, so if he's left with too many unanswered questions, he could make the event more traumatic than it is.

If he has a primary care physician or pediatrician, you can also ask him/her for suggestions and advice. Any caregivers or teachers should also be notified. This will allow them to watch for any behavior changes indicating that he is not processing or coping well with the situation. This also gives you an opportunity to clarify how much or how little you wish them to say to your son if he asks questions.

In the end, your son will take his cues from you. If he sees that you are anxious and stressed, he is likely to feel that way as well. If he sees you are taking his grandmother’s situation in stride, he is more likely to do so himself.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.