My 5 year old son recently started school and, his separation anxiety pre-dates school, but it has really highlighted to me just how bad it is. He gets upset when he gets dropped off at school, when his dad leaves for work, when family members visit and have to leave, when going to activities where we are in sight (e.g. gymnastics class where he could see s through the window). He starts with crying and saying he doesn't want to go to [insert place here], then he starts to breathe heavily and hugs you and then he starts to cling to the point where he physically has to be prised off, then when you've got him into school or his dad is going through the door etc it all starts again. I also have a 2 year old who copies everything he does so I am worried it will create an issue in her.
Thinking back, my husband and I feel like it started when his great grandmother passed away at the beginning of the year (we also lost our dog last year), at the time we explained it in very simple words - "Granny Anne has died because she was very old and sick and we won't be able to see her anymore. It's okay to miss her and be sad." We have also reassured him that we aren't going to die and just because someone gets sick does not mean they are going to die but he does still (9 months later) ask a lot of questions about death. He also talks - and sometimes cries - about our dog and his great grandmother which we encourage as we feel he is still processing it.
Unfortunately, we have just found out that his grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and its very aggressive so she could pass away fairly soon. We have not told him yet and while he has seen my husband and I upset, I don't believe his anxiety level has changed since we found out. I have contacted the school nurses and informed the school but they are taking a while to get back to me and as it is a time sensitive issue I decided to also seek advice elsewhere.
Mainly, how do we prepare him for the death of his grandma without making his separation anxiety worse? Should we take him and his 2 year old sister to visit their grandma when she is very sick? They last saw her nearly 2 weeks ago and she has rapidly declined. How should I broach the subject with my 2 year old?
Thank-you for reading through this very long explanation and for any advice you may give.