Help me deal with passing of a close relative...

i write this from the hospital where my grandma has been given hours to live. She has congestive heart failure and has recently sharply deteriorated. She is barely responsive, can no longer speak, just nods or shakes her head, we have been told the end is near and it is extremely unlikely that she will recover. She is not in any pain, but has tremendous difficulty breathing as there is water in her lungs that the doctors can no longer remove. The doctor mentioned she is also showing kidney failure due to the strong diueretics she is being given.... 

This has been especially difficult for me since she raised me all my childhood and has always been there for me throughout my life... losing her is something i knew would happen, but i am just not prepared for... while i am catholic, i do not believe in afterlife/heaven/hell/etc... i believe there is nothing... and i am just so afraid to lose her, the one person that has been my guide and my mentor througout my life... i cant hold back tears...and i dont know how to face this...i owe everything to her... i have a tiny family, just me, my mom, and my grandma, and i am not very close with my mom... so now i feel so alone and lost... im kind of a loner and somewhat an antisocial person, have very few friends, if any... but now i feel especially alone... to add to all this i recently lost my job, and while i already have a couple of offers, i dont feel by inspiration to start work... i am so lost...


I'm not sure how long it's been since you wrote, or what's happened in the meantime. Please know that many of us, even if we don't always write back, read and send thoughts, prayers, and whatever strength we can to posters like you at times like this. 

To be practical: there will be wonderful people at the hospital that will offer comfort, consolation, places to sit quietly and contemplate or collect your thoughts. The nursing staff will be expert at helping you find the most appropriate person. 

And for right now: hold her hand, if you still can. Thank her, tell her how much you love her, how you will always remember her, and make her proud. Try to hold back your tears, and your fears - she raised you to be strong and fearless.

With your beloved Grandmother in your heart, her voice in your inner ear, you will always find your way. 

May memories of happier times help to ease the pain of this sad loss.


I'm sorry for you and the terrible feeling that there is nothing you can do, but you can reflect on on how much joy she received throughout her life seeing the person that you've become.


You are mourning the death of your loved one while your loved one is still alive.  It is difficult to see your loved one lying immobile, barely responsive, being told the end is near with nothing you can do to change the outcome.  It is equally difficult to picture your life going on without your loved one being there beside you.  You are not alone in having these feelings.  So many of us experience much the same thing when we learn of the coming death of someone who is such an essential part of our life.

It is likely that you are being told that your grandmother will soon be in a better place, no longer so limited in her life choices, freed from what ever pain and frustration she may have but not be sharing with others.  There is a truth to this that you may eventually come to accept.  You will be told that she will live on through you in the fond memories of the time you did have together. From what you write, I have little doubt that this will be the case once you get past the crippling grasp of sorrow.  Both sets of statements are meant to comfort you.  Whether you can accept them now or not, please consider them in the spirit in which they have been given.

The other part of what you write is, "How will I be able to go on with my own life when my grandmother is no longer there?"  There is no easy answer to this question.  At first you may want to be alone, wiggling your sorrow like a loose tooth, enjoying the pain.  Then there will come a time when you will pick yourself up and rebuild your life.  The timing is different for everyone. Don't be afraid to take the time you need to process this.

Please know that you are not alone.  You will find a ready support group here on MOL and among the persons you interact with IRL.  Don't be afraid to lean on these contacts.  It is so important to have someone to talk with, to get your feelings out and work through them.  Know that we are all here for you in this most difficult time.


Seaweed,  I am so sorry.   I understand how you feel because I have been where you are.  I lost my father when I was 26 .  It was very sudden and I felt just the way you do now. For me, the pain seemed unbearable, and I really didn't know how I would get through it and go on. But I did, and you will too.  You will find strength and comfort in places you didnt know existed.  You are not alone, you can get through this and you will be OK.   Everything you are feeling is normal.  It sucks, but it's OK.   If you are like me you may feel that  there will always be a huge unbearable hole, that your heart will always be broken.   But it will get better. Your heart will mend.  Life will be good again one day.  You are losing your grandma for now, but the love you shared will always be with you.  You will carry everything you learned from her for the rest of your life, and all that will carry you through.   I know what I'm saying wont help now with the raw pain of what you are living through, but it will help one day soon.   I lost my father 35 years ago but he has been with me my entire life.  The best of what I am and who I am I learned from him. His influence, his love, his lessons are with me every moment of every day.

  It took me a long time to realize this but be comforted in the knowledge that you gave your grandma more joy and happiness than you can ever imagine.  At 61, having raised a (wonderful)  daughter under challenging circumstances,  I can say this with certainty:   Every moment you spent with your grandma ( even the bad ones)  brought her joy.   When we give our love we get sooooooooo much more back in return.  As much as your grandma gave you, even though you didn't know it, you gave her much much more.



As have many of us,  I have lost dear relatives.  I have been told both by medical and religious personnel that in the process  of dying the last sense to leave us is the sense of hearing.  Simply be close and talk to her..........have others do the same.  The human spirit is indomitable ,  she may be remembering pleasant times long passed or just a while ago.  In any case your voice will be a great comfort to her.  And beyond that,  I know that when our grandmother passed, my sister said she simply would not want to go on if she did not believe     we would be united again.  "For love is stronger than death"

 


Thank you for the kind words and suggestions everyone posted. This is the toughest time in my life... Ive spent the night with her and while she is continually declining.

She has not been eating and now not drinking either... she does not have any iv fluids and the dr said putting her on iv fluids will make her lungs fill more with water... is this true or would it be beneficial for her to have an iv? Her pee looks brownish today since she is so dehydrated. Her lips and tongue are super dry and i feel she is dying of the dyhadration and the kidneys failing more than the breathing difficulty...



joanne said:

I'm not sure how long it's been since you wrote, or what's happened in the meantime. Please know that many of us, even if we don't always write back, read and send thoughts, prayers, and whatever strength we can to posters like you at times like this. 

To be practical: there will be wonderful people at the hospital that will offer comfort, consolation, places to sit quietly and contemplate or collect your thoughts. The nursing staff will be expert at helping you find the most appropriate person. 

And for right now: hold her hand, if you still can. Thank her, tell her how much you love her, how you will always remember her, and make her proud. Try to hold back your tears, and your fears - she raised you to be strong and fearless.

With your beloved Grandmother in your heart, her voice in your inner ear, you will always find your way. 

May memories of happier times help to ease the pain of this sad loss.



ask the nurses.   If you sense that she is in any discomfort they will do what ever they can to make her feel better.  Don't be hesitant to speak up.  She is so very lucky to have you there.  God bless you.  


I spoke with the head cardiologist, he said it wont hurt to give her an iv, so they gave her one. I noticed her heart rate increase from 75 to 110 since receiving the iv, but i hope it makes her feel better even if slightly... she is completely non responsive now, which the dr said is likely due to toxins building up in her body from the kidneys failing ... 

sarahzm said:

ask the nurses.   If you sense that she is in any discomfort they will do what ever they can to make her feel better.  Don't be hesitant to speak up.  She is so very lucky to have you there.  God bless you.  



You are doing all you can and then some.  I am sure she knows what you are doing for her and appreciates it even if she can't say so


My mother died of kidney failure with CHF, and it was not a bad way to go. She became increasingly unaware and quietly faded away. This is probably a more comfortable ending for your grandma than if she were still experiencing breathing difficulties. 

I'm very sorry.


when my Mum was in her final coma, it was much as you describe - her lungs were clear, luckily, but everything was obviously shutting down. The nursing staff were very skilled and aware, and would stop past occasionally with a moist swab to keep her lips from drying out and cracking. Perhaps you could ask your nurses for similar?

With you in our thoughts.


It's always almost too sad to bear, but you will emerge from this.


My mother died last year. When the doctors told us that she was "actively dying" my sisters and I camped out at her bedside. When it finally happened, a few hours later, I felt relief and almost happiness that she was finally free. She was 91 and I still say to myself, "what, did you want her to live forever?" I guess I did, but not like she had been living the past year.

Of course that wears off and then you have to get through the grieving. You can't go over it, you can't go under it. You have to go through it.

The only advice I offer is what my close friend, a trauma nurse, said to me when my father was dying. I kept asking her advice on procedures and treatments that were being offered. She suggested that I ask myself if I was doing it for him or for myself. That is when my sisters and I and, reluctantly, my mother, had to let him go.

I'm so sorry.


You have, and will always have, your grandmother inside of you.  In your heart, your brain and your spirit.  She is one of the brightest lights in your life, only now she glows from the inside of you.  Spend time with her in your mind, imagining what she would have said, how she may have laughed with you or squeezed your shoulder, or tousled your hair.  She can continue to be a guiding presence for you.  I am sorry for your loss but so glad you had her in your life.


Thank you everyone for your support... she passed away at 430 AM ... LOL LOL i feel saddest since my mom pulled me away to go home and get a little rest around midnight and plan was to return in morning at 7 am .... yesterday i spoke with one of the doctors and insisted in a drip iv, which they agreed to and it caused her bp to bounce back after the iv drip and things started to look a little more stable, o2 sat was very good, heart rate good, bp was stable again... i felt maybe it's ok to go homeand get some rest.... but few hours after i left her she passed away LOL now i blame myself for leaving her side, I promised her i would be by her side until the end, i should not have left LOL she has always been there for me, but i feel i deserted her....


Seaweed, it is common for people to die when their loved ones leave their bedside.  It is as if they wait to be alone, perhaps not wanting to cause distress, as strange as that may seem, or perhaps the bonds of the living keep the dying in this reality.  The promises we make when we are in a different place in life are often not possible to fulfill.  Your grandmother would not have wanted you to blame yourself.  She died secure in the knowledge of the great love you shared.  I am so sorry for your loss. 


Please oh please forgive yourself.  You did not desert her.  You were there and made sure that your grandmother had the best care possible.    

The mother of a dear friend of mine died during the brief time my friend went to get something to eat.  The nurse said it happens often - people seem to wait until their loved ones are away.  The nurse's theory, and I agree, is that on some level the person waits for a solitary moment.  Perhaps she was protecting you one more time, she did not want you to see her die.

So sorry for you loss.  Wishing you peace.


I know what you are going through. Many on this board do. 

Cling to the memory of what a tremendous grandchild you have been to her and she a grandmother to you. You've done all you can and you've been there for her to the end. What finer thing can we offer each other more than that?

I will not try to convince you of the rightness or wrongness of belief. I will simply say there are more things in the heavens and earth, to butcher the bard, than you or I imagine. Certitude in belief in the void is as irrational as belief in cotton candy clouds and guys with harps. We just don't know and that is OK. We hope for the best, whatever that is.

Just never be too sure, and don't let your inclinations bring you despair. 



My darling sister died with several of her children around her bed - but her husband of almost 60 years was  briefly out of the house.  The hospice people felt that maybe, as people above have suggested, she wanted to spare him the moment, esp. since it would have been quite "public" with all of us there.  When he came back a few minutes later, he was able to be "himself," moving right into practical arrangements....

Or the timing could have been entirely coincidental.  Either way, your dear grandma (and my sis) is no longer sick!  And your grandma will be in your heart, and her voice in your ear, always.  E-hugs as you go through this awful time!

(Could I say that even though you seem to be a very private sort of person, you could try reaching out to a social worker, chaplain, or hospice worker at the hospital, to pick up their insights, and/or any relative or friend who seems congenial; and maybe later a support group and/or therapist.  We all go through this **** and sometimes it helps to lean on someone for a while.  All best to you.)


My deepest condolences on your loss.  Take as much time as you need to grieve.  If you are feeling guilt or loss at not being there when your grandmother died, embrace those feelings honestly. Give yourself time to work through them.  Then, ask yourself, "What would my grandmother want me to do now?" and act accordingly.  


what a dedicated, loving person you are! Surely, you embody your grandmother's teaching so well! 

Of course, we all need to sleep, to restore some strength to face each day's challenges especially when supporting the ill, the frail, the vulnerable. You did not betray or disappoint - you briefly delegated care to others you knew would watch, as they did, when you could no longer function. Do not second-guess yourself!

Now is the hardest time: she's gone, and yet so present in your thoughts. Be kind to yourself, be patient with others. 

May her memory bring blessings to all whose lives she touched. 


Thank you everyone for the comments of comfort and valuable advice. It is a time for me that is indescribably painful... I have lost family members and friends before, and I knew inevitably this day would come, but I was not prepared for it. I feel guilty that I have not done enough for her, did not visit her frequently enough, i should have tried to take her places (especially recently since I am jobless for the last 2 months, I should have been there for her...). I feel that I took for granted having someone so precious in my life and I could not recognize how fragile their presence was... Now I stand in regret, sorrow, and a tremendous feeling of emptiness. My heart is filled with "I should haves" and a void that I cannot refill ever... The only thing I have is tears and more tears...


so sorry for your loss! I do know people often wait til they're alone to die, it is easier for them that way. We visited my mother 3 times the day she died and wouldn't you know, we weren't there when it happened. Also, if it is any comfort, I think guilt is almost inevitable in these situations. I felt guilty a ton, but then I looked at my friend, who quit her job to be with her mother 24/7 at the end, and even she felt guilty about how she had handled it. It may be impossible to avoid guilt! Please be kind to yourself with this, she would want it that way I bet! And also, it would be very hard to be excited about new job prospects when you are going through such hardship. I hope things fall in place for you soon, but patience is required (and sometimes elusive!)


It is very natural to feel guilt at a time like this. We want to be in control; but, some things are beyond our ability to change their outcome.  Suppressing these feelings is far worse than wallowing in them.  Let your guilt run its course.  

Tears can be very therapeutic, let them flow.  Be prepared for triggers.  At the oddest times, in the oddest places, something will occur that sets the tears flowing again.  These triggers may be spaced further apart as time goes on; but, they will always be there.  Remember they are a manifestation of your love for your grandmother.  She will always be close to you as long as you continue to encounter these gentle reminders of your time together.



I was at my mom's bedside for hours when she was having a hard time breathing, and the emergency doctors said that she was shutting down.  A minister, a woman, came to her bedside; she began asking me questions about her.  I know that people can hear you even when they are otherwise very unresponsive.  This lasted for hours, and the nurse came to change the sheets.  The minister and I were sitting for a very brief amount of time, when the nurse came running and she gave me the news:  she passed away.  I don't know if she left to look for us, but mostly I believe that while we were there story telling, she was going to remain.  The moment it ended, she ended her struggle.  As someone previously said, it's very common for them to leave when we leave a brief moment.  My dad's passing was very similar.  I came to Chile to visit him, we talked, and shortly afterwords he died.  He was waiting for me.  I suggest that you think about the fact that your grandmother didn't want you to see her leave; it's a loving act.


I am very sorry for your loss. You are not alone in your feelings.

I felt the same kind of grief when my mother died when I was 21. If only I had been there. She hadn't wanted me to go. I held onto that guilt for a very, very long time. I finally forgave myself. She was going to die. Me being there or not was not going to make a difference. Perhaps as so many have said here, it was because she was alone that she passed away.

I miss her every day and I wish she could still be with us but she had ALS. It was a blessing for her to be free of the body that had locked away her still very sharp mind.


Thank you all again ... I keep returning to this thread and re-reading some of your responses and trying to convince myself that this is part of life and I could not have done anything whether I was there or not. I still regret not spending more time with her while she was alive ... i saw this video by Macklemore about taking out his 100 yr old grandma for a fun day for her birthday and it made me burst into tears since I feel this is what I should have done ... I visited her in Queens once a week, sometimes once every 2 weeks, and she was so excited to see me, i just wish i took advantage of those times more and did it more frequently... today was her funeral, the moment mass started, the skies opened up with pouring rain... when we arrived at the cemetery it was pouring, but as soon as the service ended, the rain stopped and the skies cleared up ... it was a sad day for me....


Seaweed, you will always wish you had more time - that's the measure of your bond. It won't die or fade because one of you is not physically present - it just morphs into an inner dialogue, and then when you're with someone who knew your grandmother, or reminds you of her, or when you have children, you can share a special memory. 

[Like for me, today, when a duck greeted me this morning - my mother (dead now, 20-odd years) used to caw to magpies, and now I'm quacking with ducks. She'd have been very amused. My siblings are teasing me, and we all miss her deeply. ]


Don't work on convincing yourself of anything. Just breathe, relax, wipe your eyes. She was a strong role model, and you've learnt well from her lessons. You've done the best you could, at the time.

Be generous to yourself, for being the bright, kind, independent adult you were raised to be. 


Did your grandmother have a bucket list of places she wanted to visit and activities she wanted to participate in before she died?  If so, why not check off remaining experiences by engaging in them on her behalf?  You would truly be taking her for a series of fun days that you could enjoy with her by letting her experience them through you.



In order to add a comment – you must Join this community – Click here to do so.