I have written about grief before, but it now seems much more relevant than it had previously. So here we go down the rabbit hole.
2018 was a rough year for my family. It started with the death of my great-grandmother, “Grandma Rosey”, (my mother’s grandma). There was a lot of drama surrounding her declining health after she had a stroke several years ago which lead to my grandmother, “Grandma Ginny” (mom’s mom) not attending her own mother’s funeral. We all tried to convince her to go because we know she will regret it, but it was to no avail. I had just arrived to work when I received a message that Grandma Rosey had passed. I was set to go to the funeral, but at the last minute, I stayed home because a nurse I worked with made me feel full of guilt for planning to be out of work. This wasn’t one of my proudest moments.
Next my father’s dad, “Grandpa Fink”, was in the I.C.U. In my family’s fashion, I received a call at work telling me that he was on life support and that they were letting him die the following morning. I was a mess of guilt and sorrow. My dad’s family hasn’t been a part of my life for a long time because of an argument my father and I had ten years ago. When I went to visit him in the hospital, he was unable to communicate and seemed confused. He wasn’t actually on life support (confusion runs in the family I suppose), but he was in bad condition. He’s now in a nursing home instead of being at home taking care of my grandmother (his wife) who is unable to care for herself properly.
Then my Grandpa Pauly (mom’s dad) was admitted to the hospital for organ failure. An infection was taking over his body and he was dying. Luckily, after dozens of tests, procedures, and treatments (and a week in the hospital), he was discharged in stable condition. My Grandpa Pauly is someone I have always connected with and that was a really scary time for me.
After that, my Great-Grandma Burns (Dad’s grandmother) got sick while in the nursing home with Dementia. She is refusing medication treatments and is not well.
Her husband, my Great-Grandpa Burns, can no longer walk independently and uses a wheelchair often. My dad thinks that his time with us is limited too.
Lastly, my Step-Grandma Pat (my mom’s mother-in-law), passed away on the last day of the year. In her last days, she was but a hollow shell of the woman she once was.
This year has taught me so much about myself, but it has also taught me a lot about the people around me. How we perceive things and how we grieve are both very personal experiences. Some people grow stronger in times of stress. They throw aside their fears and do their best to hold up those around them. They take charge of the situation and work diligently to make those around them comforted. Others watch in silence. They disconnect themselves from the situation and view things from the outside – they shut down. Some people use humor as a coping mechanism. They will find comfort in making the people around them smile in the darkest moments. Others become angry at the world around them. They refuse to accept the situation that has been set in front of them.
There is no one “right way” to deal with death and dying. Over the past year I have felt strength, silence, humor, and anger in vulnerable situations. And that is okay.
Allow yourself and those around you to mourn in their own way. We each have our own path to take in the journey of healing.