East Lansing, Michigan
Tell her the truth which is what you should have done all those many years ago. The truth is always best. Let them share the love they undoubtedly have for each other.
Ithaca, New York
At this point, it's all about easing the way for your niece through her death. It's not about easing the conscience of her mother. The truth would have been good years ago, but I'm not sure that it will serve your niece now to know she was abandoned by her mother (or that it will be a happy, loving reunion).
It is so easy to form judgments at such critical stages of our lives. We cannot assume that the uncle and the mother did not come from a place of deep caring for this young women’s wellbeing when they chose not to tell her the truth. Nor can we assume that meeting her estranged mother at the end of her life will necessarily be traumatic for the niece. Dying people are often much closer to the gifts of spirit such as compassion and forgiveness. I have witnessed countless deathbed scenes where love triumphs over life’s circumstances. Listen to your heart and do what you feel will not incur any further unfinished business in all of your lives.
The biological mother may feel guilt, nostalgia, and longing. However, the woman she wishes to see and comfort is a stranger to her. The impulse is kind and humane, but inappropriate. Let her volunteer at a hospice or other place of need and suffering. Her presence there will be healing--for herself and others.
This sad passing is not about the mother. It is about the person who is about to leave this life. It is that person--the niece--who deserves the comforting thought that she will meet her mother "on the other side." Robbing her of that thought at this point would be cruel.
Watching someone you love cross over isn’t easy. Being the one preparing to go is many things, easy is not one. I wish you both strength and peace. Now isn’t the time for great revealing. Your niece will be greeted by a mother on the other side, just not her own. Let it be. Easing your nieces suffering is your focus, revealing this truth will cause her more suffering. Let go of how you or anyone else feels and let it be solely about your niece and her peaceful transition.
This is all about your sister's guilt, not about the person who is preparing for her next journey. Let your niece cross over in peace, knowing she will encounter many mothers on her way, and let your sister deal with what she should have dealt with a long time ago. You are the one there for your niece, not your sister. Something tells me your sister is dead, inside, anyway...and she's trying to made up for lost time. Too little too late is what my mother would have said if she were sitting here with me now!