I’ve never written a post like this one before. It’s always been about the food but tonight I feel like getting a few things out.
In all honesty, I haven’t felt like myself for a few weeks now. Cloudy. Muddled. Neurons firing somewhere in my brain but I just feel…off. Or maybe I’m not really feeling. Or maybe I’m trying not to feel anything at all.
I guess it’s like that sometimes when you know you’re losing someone. Acceptance is never an easy stage of grief to arrive at. My grandfather (well, step grandfather, but the only one I ever knew) – Pop Pop – passed quickly: a heart attack that he never recovered from. I loved him dearly and was lucky enough to have had the chance to tell him so after rushing to the hospital when I got the call. After 15 years, I still miss him every single day. Every day.
I was too young to fully understand the weight of loss when my uncle was diagnosed with melanoma in his late 30s in July of 1989. He was gone by September.
My grandmother has been in a slow decline for about a year now. She’ll be 93 this August. She has outlived two husbands, a son, and a grandson. Though no official diagnosis has been made, I believe that dementia has whiddled away at her mind and demeanor for years now. And it was a stroke 3 weeks ago that has left her hanging on to this life by a thread.
These past three weeks have been a waiting game. Her body will not recover and another stroke will likely take her life if starvation doesn’t first. She’s not able to swallow and feeding tubes are not part of her advanced directives. She’s being kept comfortable at this point.
And yet this post isn’t about feigning sympathy, it’s about trying to clear my head because there’s this one thing: my grandmother and I are not close. An argument pushed us apart four years ago and split our once-strong relationship in two, like a lightning bolt cracks a tree trunk in half down the center. Even after apologies were pronounced, our relationship was never the same. I’m stressed because I don’t know how to feel. I’ve pushed feelings of guilt and sorrow deep down inside. I feel less about her dying than I do about the sorrow I feel for others in my life who will grieve for her when she lets go. Perhaps I’ve come to terms with this end of life stage. Maybe it’s easier because I’m two hours away and I’m not watching it happen. I’m not watching her die before my eyes. I almost feel like an outsider within my family. It’s an ugly way to feel but at the root of it, I’m more concerned with how I’m going to help my mom get through this. And even deeper still, I absolutely, with every fiber in my body, dread the day I have to deal with loss of one of my parents.
I’m waiting for the call to come when it’s raining. When my Pop Pop passed, it had been storming for 6 hours straight, like a sign from above that the heavens were opening up for him, welcoming him. I thought I would get the call yesterday; again, another stormy June day. And I realize that is a childish way to think – to expect that something will happen one way just because it’s happened that way before. But the call will come. The call I’ve dreaded all these years – every time my parents call, every time my mom leaves a message, for years. I listen to the inflection in her voice. For a cracking in her voice. For the slow, hesitant, deliberate voice.
Will I miss her when she’s gone? In a way, yes. I’ll miss the “old” grandma, the “Dodo!” I used to shout for as a toddler. I’ll grieve for the woman she once was. I will not miss the person she became late in life, for whatever reason (dementia or not). I can hear the “tsk-tsking” from some of you now but I’ll say this: try not to judge me (though I won’t be shocked if you do). Grief is a funny thing and we’re all entitled to deal with it in our own ways. Honesty with myself in trying to understand the grief, however, is what matters most to me here.
If you’ve even read this far, you’re amazing. I rambled – it’s a reflection upon my thought processes these days. I’m more focused at work than I’ve been in ages and have deliberately turned off other parts of my life while simultaneously trying to clear my head and suppress how I really feel – the subconscious works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? Thank you for reading, for allowing me attempt to clear a few things up (which I have), and for allowing me to share a bit of my private thoughts with you. More food soon…
What a poignant & touching post. Thank you, really, for sharing this. It made my chest tighten to read about thinking of losing a parent–that is a thought that paralyzes me. I can’t imagine losing either of my parents. Though I/we may not be able to specifically relate to aspects of your stress, grief, etc., I certainly “understand” and connect to these emotions and stress in my own way, over my own worries, fears, stressors. Sending a hug (from a stranger 🙂 )and strength during the tough moments.
This is the second blogthat I have read today that has talked about losing a grandparent. It’s odd for me because I too have a grandmother who isn’t long for this world, she has been diagnosed with breast cancer that has spread to her lungs and stomach. Like you I am not close to her, she was never a very nice grandma, always giving me grief for something, I married 24 years ago and moved away. I am making a trip back home and will be there for her 93rd birthday in the middle of July. It will be hardest on my mother when she goes, and I feel bad for her and that I won’t be able to be there to help her through her grief. It’s nice that you have your blog as an outlet for your grief, as alone as you may feel there are so many others going through the same thing. I hope that sharing has brought you some relief, I believe it’s better to talk things out rather than keep it in.
I guess posts like this one are hard to write but I think it’s good that you express your grief, pain, anger, doubts, fears, etc. No feeling is unbearable when you share it whereas if you keep it to yourself it only becomes stronger and stronger. Be strong and faithful, remember all those good times you spent with her and be grateful to life you could taste the great joy grandparents bring to us. We totally support you and understand your feelings, our prayers are with your family.
When people age, sometimes things happen to their minds. Your grandmother may very well be a completely different person than when you were young. That’s no one’s fault and YES it does change the way you feel about her. Don’t feel guilty about that. And when someone leaves us and passes away, it is no longer about her. It’s about those who are left behind. You are 100% correct in realizing that it will be your mom who will need your love and support. Grandma will be happy and in a better place- and probably back to being the sweet Dodo she was. All will be forgiven from her point of view. You guys will be left with your memories (some good and some bad). You can help each other through this time by sharing the good times and making new ones with each other.
Your writing may help you organize your thoughts and feelings for you.. I remember my thoughts down when my hubby was dying and it did help me. I did learn there is no right or wrong to your grief. Take care..
I’m so sorry you’re going through such a hard time. Grief is always complicated, more so when the relationships involved haven’t been the easiest. Take care, and my best wishes to you and your family.
Don’t beat yourself for feeling what you feel. I’ve learned a long time ago, with LOTS of soul searching, and my own grief as well, that feelings are neither good or bad, they just are what they are. The one piece of advice that I can offer that may bear worth looking at would be to ask, have you completely forgiven yourself for whatever part you played in the falling out with your grandma? An aurgument always involves more than one person, and each owns a piece of it. No matter the outcome of arguments, if there is any lingering regret, then most assuredly there is some lingering unforgiveness as well. This is just a suggestion from one who doesn’t personally know you, but can identify with your detachment. Take care of yourself, and remember to just breathe as you walk this leg of the journey. Best wishes to you.
Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, friend. Our emotions don’t always ask us where they will lead. We must follow and use our mind and heart to resolve. That process is not always quick or easy. Wishing you strength and comfort through it all.
Those of us who have been on the planet for more than half a century can completely understand your circumstances. All too quickly it seems those who have been the best and largest influences on our lives are gone and we stand on the road feeling unable to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. There is no real advice that can be given when we loose those we love either by a protracted illness or an unexpected medical problem or accident. Those who tell us that you need “closure”or that “time will heal the hurt” are offering the best they can but there is no closure for many of our experiences and time does nothing but pass.
The only gifts that time can give us is distance…from the moment when our hearts are broken….from the last time we were able to say good-bye….from the days of confusion and hurt. Eventually we begin to move down the roads of our lives again and can look back and see we have come ‘this far’ and next week we will have moved just a little farther. Keep your memories, the sane and the silly, of those who have touched your life. Do what you can to use your life to give lovely memories to another….memories that they can cherish when you are gone.
Wishing ;you peace and the comfort of caring family and friends who share your sorrows and your joys..
Most people, myself included, have relationships or family members we wish we were closer to or have fractured ties that we wish we could mend and return to “the way we used to be”. It sounds like your going through one of the most difficult processes of life (i.e. mourning for someone who is soon to pass, but hasn’t yet). It will be hard, but you are not alone. You still have the family members and friends that are close–and if you aren’t close to other family members, you always have the family you get to choose–your friends. Give yourself the time and space to just feel how you’re feeling without judgement.
What a beautiful post… thank you. It is so very important to express your grief. I have had enough in my life… by the age of 40, I lost 2 parents and all grandparents as well as aunts and uncles. It’s very lonely. I hear your pain and the impending loss — but, remember, she is still here. Enjoy that time and savor the memories that you still can make, even though they may be few. Peace and countless blessings to you!
Replies to your blog have held much wisdom from writers I can tell are much younger than myself. There is little left to say except, no one is judging you, and those who do are of little consequence to your life.
I don’t think there’s anything to judge here at all; you are right, grief takes many forms for many people. I lost my grandfather last January, and am not looking forward to loosing my grandmother. When I first watched the Notebook, I cried like a baby–not for the reasons most people did, but because I was thinking of my parents having to go through old age and death. There are days when I also cringe at a voicemail from my mom….We always say “death is a natural part of life”, but it doesn’t feel natural at all.
I’m so sorry. ((HUGS)) I know that writing always helps me process emotions. I’ve done it many times over the years and always felt better afterwards. I have four living grandparents, all in their late 80s and early 90s, and I find myself feeling the same way you do, cringing when my mom or dad calls, wondering if it’s going to be bad news about one of their parents. I hope that you find peace soon.
Scripture says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” So, it okay to take a break from talking about food to share your heart. My life motto is, “Live with an eternal perspective.” As a life-long student of the Word of God, I hear Jesus say “he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” When he says, “I am the resurrection and the life. whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” I know that is Truth. For me, grieving for a departed loved one is still grieving but not despair. It is only “until we meet again.” May God’s grace be yours.
Hugs! I am so sorry. I’ve been in the same limbo for the past few weeks. It is the worst way to be. I’ve had a good relationship with my grandmother, but that doesn’t make it easier. I am sad, and I feel terrible for my mom & her siblings. The waiting…the exhaustion…the question of making plans or not making plans…the hours spent sitting in a waiting room. I pray for your family and that you find peace with this.
This may sound a bit juvenile but I quote it often and this seems like an appropriate time to share it again….. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Credit goes to good ol’ Dr. Suess. As an only child with all grandparents AND both parents gone, I can only reiterate what others have said. No one is judging you…as everyone grieves in their own way. Do whatever you need to do to process this…..writing is most obviously therapeutic, as many of us know, too…..and the distance of passing time will focus your thoughts and help you find your answers. It can’t be rushed. Just breathe.
This was a beautifully written post. We’ve all been touched by grief at some time, or will be, and you are not alone. My heart goes out to you and your mom.
Thank you for sharing your reflection and what’s going on in your life. My grandmother too suffers from dementia, and it has put myself and my mom (who takes care of her day to day) in an interesting place, because the reality of it is, she is no longer there. Mentally, she will never be the grandmother and mother that we so loved. I know that her passing will in a strange way bring some relief, even as difficult as it will be. You are not wrong for being more concerned about your mother when the time comes. She is the one who will need your energy and support. All you can do is honor your grandma’s memory by remembering who she was in the good times and by being there for your family the best you can. Know that this stranger is praying for you.
Thank you—I too am going through the exact thought/feeling process, only it’s with my Dad. People will judge & second guess how you react to things, what you say & how you feel. They either will know better what you SHOULD do or feel better than you do. You are right–grief IS a funny thing & we ARE entitled to deal with it in our own way. Nobody will read my comment, but it helps to get things down in word. Reading your blog today helps remind me that I am not alone. I’m sorry that you have to be going through such emotional pain and I wish you peace getting through your grief.
I read it 🙂 And I agree that each person is entitled to deal with their grief their own way. It’s not a cookie cutter emotion.
Grief is an individual process. Sure there are characteristics many of us share when dealing with loss, but when it comes right down to it the actual process is undefinable. It’s when we try and dictate which step we should be in, how long it should last or things like that when we end up hurting ourselves more. The best thing you can do is what you are doing. Communicating. Understanding you have every right to feel the way you do and allowing yourself to adjust, adapt, grieve and feel or in some cases not feel. I will keep you in my healing thoughts.
I went through the exact same thing AND feelings 2 yrs ago. I lost the grandmother that had been my second mom, but the Grandma *I* knew had pretty much passed a month after my mom did 9 yrs ago. (and you’re right to dread that loss with every fiber of your being.. it’s indescribable). I guess she had had small strokes and we just never knew, then along with it either dementia or whatever, but she went from my grandma, to someone very cruel. I was still there for her when she finally passed.. like yours, no feeding tubes in the end, just a stubborn soul hanging on by the thinest of threads until the body just can not go on. I understand you feelings and you should never feel guilty. But in time you will forgive the hurtful things said.. by both sides. It’s just part of life and getting older, which sucks. Love your parents every day, because each day is a gift.. never let a day go by that you don’t tell them you love them or that you appreciate them.
Thank you for sharing such a personal post. I lost my grandmother 14 years ago to lung cancer and I, too, think about her everyday. In fact, I often feel her presence around me. I also lost a great grandmother 10 years ago, and though she was the sweetest lady, and I do miss her, I don’t long for her the way I do my grandmother. Connections with loved ones are all so individual. I hope you were able to clear your thoughts. 😉
The only solution for grief is time. No matter how contentious a relationship is, you will eventually let go of all the hurtful things and remember the good times. You’re right, this body here, this person, isn’t your grandmother, it’s what time and age have left of her, so don’t get too stuck on the “now” grandmother, and keep a tight hold on your memories of the “then” grandmother.
We all grieve in our own way, and anyone who tells you there’s a right or wrong way to do it, or some kind of timetable (“You should be over this by now…”) – and this includes yourself – is only making it harder.
The day after my mother died, I woke up and thought about the fact that it had been a day since she’d died, and that one day it would be a month since, then a year since, then… and I realized that I really didn’t have to do anything “about” her death, all I had to do was not die myself, and time would carry me past it. It was inconceivable to me at the time that I would actually move forward – it seemed like I’d be stuck there, in that morning after, reliving it all over again, day after day – but of course I was wrong. It’s been more than 25 years since she died, and while it can still bring me to tears to think about it, it doesn’t tear at my heart anymore, and hasn’t for a long time now.
Be gentle with yourself, be kind to your mother, and when she does finally let go, and you’re at whatever kind of ceremony you’ll have, remember her the way she was, and remember how much you love(d) her, and you’ll begin to heal.
Wow I can relate to you. I have a grandmother whom i feel the same way about. She is getting older and i could almost care less about her. i know it sounds awful but its true. She’s not a very nice person and has been so mean to my own mother it pains me all the time. The only thing i worry about is my own mother in the situation. I worry that prior to passing the last thing out of my grandmother’s mouth will probably be a dig to my ever-caring, slightly naive mother. i don’t admit this to many people mostly just my sister who feels the same, but its how i feel and i can’t really help it. I relate to you and oddly find comfort that there are others out there going through something so similar. I tell you i could have written your post exactly ! Certainly not as well as you wrote it though. I have often felt a little guilty for loving one g parent more than another, etc but it really is natural. We all connect on different levels and no one relationship is right or wrong. It just is what it is. You need to protect your heart and those you care about which seems to be your mother. Being far away during a time of family crisis is also hard. Its like you are a part of it but not. I know its not much comfort to you but i think your post is beautiful, from the heart, and I hope it made you feel better to get it out. Somehow….you made me feel better. Reading your post was almost like getting out my own feelings !!! Don’t forget you are not alone in your feelings. I wish you the very best and wish for you to be surrounded by those you love who will lift you up and support you. Absolutely no judgement here ! Just because people are family doesn’t mean you have to like them. I have always thought…if you believe that a “family” can be an adoptive family, or a friend, or anything other than biological and that you can love those people not related to you more than anything else then the exact opposite must be true. Just because someone is family doesn’t mean you must or should love them. Sorry to ramble but your story touched me quite deep and i feel your pain in your words. Best of luck and I will send up a prayer for you !
Blood doesn’t make family, and parents aren’t sacred. My grandpa’s mother was a right piece of work and I at best wouldn’t of associated with the lady and at worst, would of felt like punching her in the face (which doesn’t solve anything, I know) If you feel your grandmother really is at this point a, well, piece of work who’s just going to hurt your mom, perhaps you should say so.
I might be one of the few people though who think that the dead and dying aren’t a sacred thing, and someone can be pretty crappy right up until their last moments. :/ Being abusive mentally (being mean is something I would actually say is abuse, bullying is the same too) or physically is not so easily forgiven, even if the person is dying, in fact, it just makes it more frustrating. My grandpa made peace (I think) with his very cruel and physically abusive mother. But I can’t help but think it only comes out of the idea that she’s dying, and people want to make peace when that happens. I have no idea if she ever felt bad for those things or not, but even if it was kinda fake, I think my Grandfather got some peace out of saying goodbye.
I hope your grandmother doesn’t say anything like that and your mom can get some peace.
I came across your post on grief on your blog site and it was very poignant.
My name is Alicia W. and I am attempting to complete my dissertation on coping with grief and the influence of social media – namely blog sites – on grief. Would you be interested in answering seven questions on your grief experience and blog site?
I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
thanks and Blessings.
Can you send me your consent form? [email protected]
There is nothing wrong with being honest about how you feel. My family has a history of mental issues that to be completely blunt, made a good deal of them into insufferable, mean and messed up people. When my Grandpa passed, I felt less for him then I did my grandmother. And that’s just a fact. I think people focus too much on the “don’t diss the dead” but if someone was rotten or turned rotten at the end, then them dying simply doesn’t excuse it :/ I used to care how harsh that may sound, but it’s true. Very much like this one episode of a series in which a very mean bully at school dies, and you see how all the students react. If you didn’t like someone, or something happened so that everything you once had together broke, then it happened, and their passing doesn’t change it. I felt more awkward trying to pretend like I’m seriously devistated about my Grandpa and even my Grandma, but I just wasn’t. In my Grandma’s case she had been going for about 10 years, demetia hitting her hard, her blatantly unwilling to see it and my Grandpa getting prostate cancer, which spread to his bones also totally refusing to think anything was wrong. Perhaps I’m upset that I feel they both caused their own demises in various ways. Neither of them ate all that healthy, my grandpa was often very prideful when it came to him feeling like crap, he’d just say “I’m fine”. It’s frustrating. I loved them for their good moments and was so furious at their faults. I’ve come to a point of understanding that it wasn’t their fault, because they can’t control things like that, anymore then an alcoholic can just quit or a drug addict, they were addicted to their behavior and completely outdated beliefs as well as stubborness. My point is though that anything you feel towards your grandma you shouldn’t feel guilty about. We’re only human and as much as people want to think that dealing with death is cut and dry sadness, it is so much more complex, specially if you had mixed feelings or were angry with that person.
I think that anyone who goes through grieving with out wishing there was something they could of said or did is insanely rare. I don’t think we ever feel we have enough time to say everything we think needs to be said, or do everything we feel should be done.
I hope you’ve been feeling better about the passing of loved ones and those whom you saw change for better or worse who are now gone.
No one should judge how someone feels about a dead family member or friend. Sometimes there are incredibly sour feelings, despite the fact that they’re gone. And ya know what? That’s ok, because death doesn’t change the scars they might of left. What’s important is just accepting that bad things did happen, and coming to terms with it. Being bitter or incredibly sad forever is not good for you, and if you had a good relationship with a lost loved one, they would always want you to be happy. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, it’s just an acceptance for all that happened.