My grandmother died this morning. She was sitting at the breakfast table, chewing her food, and suddenly just stopped breathing..
I wasn’t there to see her on her last day and now I really don’t know how to feel about it. I was in Monterey having a family holiday with my son and husband.
My grandma suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and it changed who she was in so many ways. The thing is, when you tell someone about dementia and Alzheimer’s, they listen and then nod and say, “yes, that’s very normal” and then it’s left making you feel like shoulders had just been shrugged at you.
I know death is inevitable, but when someone you really care about dies, you can’t help but think about life. Then of course you think about what else you could have done to be there for that person and did she know she was loved?
The last few months of my grandma’s life was extremely difficult for her and for the family. Taking care of someone with dementia AND Alzheimer’s requires a lot of patience, because neither of you knows what type of day you’ll have. It’s been said by many people that taking care of the elderly, and even worse with someone who suffers from dementia, is worse than taking care of a child. And it’s true.
My grandma had some very weird days. Some days she can remember things quite well and sometimes she can’t remember something that happened just a minute before. Then of course they do things that make you wonder how in the world they could ever think to do something like that.
My grandma had some crazy antics. For example, she was once given about $800 pocket money by my aunt. This was of course at the early stage of her disease and we weren’t ready to start accepting that she was quite there yet. Anyway, she’d put 8 of the hundred dollar bills in a gum packet that was nearly thrown in the trash. She said she’d done this because she was worried it was going to get stolen.
My mom refused to have my grandma in a senior home of any kind. She wanted her to be with her family, but it wasn’t easy. My dad (a nurse for over 30 years) was her full-time caregiver.
Just a few months ago, we were starting to get a little impatient with her. It was exhausting to repeat yourself every 5 seconds and watch her like a hawk, because you have no idea what she’ll do at any given time. We all just kept saying, “she’s not even in there anymore.”
When regrets kick in
Now she’s gone. She’s gone and I have some really deep regrets. I keep thinking about the times I could have sat longer with her, told her I loved her, or even hugged her more. People say I can’t think that way, because it’s going to send me into a downhill state of sadness or even depression. But it’s always easy said than done, right?
I guess you could say I’m grieving right now. My grandma has been a big part of our family all my life. So I don’t know quite how to handle it just yet. I’ve lost people I love before but it’s been a really really long time.
I never really know what to say when people lose someone, because it all sounds the same. “Sorry for your loss” or “I’m praying for you” or “she’s in a better place now.” I mean, do you really know if she’s in a better place? I know we all have to say something kind, but what I’d really love is for someone to just say something funny to me so I can laugh. Even just for a few seconds.