Thursday, January 17, 2013

Loss

Yesterday my grandmother died.  I'm trying to process my feelings about it, but it's hard.  All I can do is feel sad, like she was torn away from me too soon.  After she fell on New Year's Day I had a conversation with Ben where I told him that I was hoping she would make it through this, but that I didn't think she would.  I went to the hospital every day and sat with her.  Sometimes we talked, sometimes we didn't.  Mostly I just wanted to be there in case she was lonely or scared.  Last Thursday the staff at the hospital said that she could probably go home the next day.  I felt okay going to Columbus with Ben after that, and I told her I was going and that I'd see her when I got home.  But she just got worse.  Something else was always going wrong.  I called her on Sunday and she sounded bad.  She told me she was sick, and I said, "I know.  But I love you so much."  She said, "I'm sorry, Steffie," and then just hung up the phone.  She ended up going into the ICU two times, and after the second time the decision was made to put her in hospice care (but still at the hospital).  When my dad called and told me that I drove back from Columbus immediately.  That was Tuesday night.  I don't even really remember the two and a half hour drive.  When I got to the hospital my dad and his brothers weren't in the room, so I had about thirty minutes with her on my own.  She wasn't awake or conscious or whatever, and I don't know if she could hear me, but I talked a lot to her.  And then I sang a little, and I told her I'd be right next to the bed if she woke up.  She didn't.  I went home at 2am.

Yesterday I thought I had sort of made my peace with the fact that soon she would be gone.  All day I didn't think I would go back to the hospital, and I felt confident that I had said my goodbyes.  And then the weirdest thing happened.  Ben and I were out to dinner at a restaurant and all of a sudden I felt like I had to go to the hospital again.  Ben was surprised, but he drove me there right away.  And I got there literally two minutes after she had taken her last breath.  I feel wracked with guilt that I wasn't there next to her and that I couldn't get there in time to tell her again how much I loved her.  While we were driving home from the hospital Ben was trying to comfort me and he said, "You were there for her when it mattered."  I snapped at him and said, "it always mattered.  It was always important to be with her."  And you know, I really did feel that way.  My idea of family doesn't just have to do with blood relationships, but much deeper bonds.  I haven't formed those bonds with very many people, but I did with her.  I had a special connection with her that was apparent to everyone and that I treasured.  After my grandfather died I did pretty much everything with her.  Took her grocery shopping, to get her hair cut, little trips to the dollar store, the movies, out to lunch.  I sat with her and talked at her house, held her hand when she got sad, and tried to make her laugh and lighten up (much like me, she worried about everything and got stressed out easily).  I have such special memories of her, and having her gone feels like there's a hole in my heart.

As soon as she became uncommunicative, I had these thoughts like, I don't know what her favorite color is.  Or her favorite song.  Or the time in her life when she felt the most scared or went on the biggest adventure.  I don't know how she felt on her wedding day.  I can't get these thoughts out of my head.  I suppose the extremely faint silver lining is that this happened when I could be home to say goodbye.  I just wish that things had happened differently.  I know she wouldn't have wanted to die in a hospital.  I had hoped and wished so hard that she would be one of those people who would die in her bed, just sort of going to sleep and not waking up.  I'm glad that I got to spend one last Christmas with her.  I'm glad that every time we talked I told her how important she was to me and how much I loved her.  I just wasn't ready for her to be gone.


Here we are on Christmas Eve.  She was wearing a Snuggie which is like, too adorable for words.  

I know she knew that I loved her, and I know that I did all that I could for her, but I can't help thinking that I could have told her I loved her more often or hung out with her more.  I could have called her every day from New York and I didn't.  I feel so guilty and so empty.  And I will never have another grandmother.  And this hurts.

I guess I'll end this with a good memory.  One of my favorite things about her was her shoe collection.  She wore these little ballet flats from Payless that had a camo print and had shiny gold bows on them.  And it was the cutest thing ever.  I'm glad that I got to tell her that I'm getting married, that she got to know Ben, and that she saw pictures of me in my wedding dress.  

And I'm glad that I got to say goodbye.  Even though I didn't want to.

37 comments:

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much you loved your grandma. I loved reading your stories about her and she seemed such a lovely and delightful woman. Sending you good thoughts and virtual hugs. Be well, friend.

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  2. I'm so sorry, I pray you can find that peace you need in your heart & joy in your memories of your grandma!

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  3. I am sorry for your loss. I understand the way you feel but like the post, let your feeling about your grandma go on with positive notes. We always wish we could do more for a loved one, but as long as they know we love them, it is enough for them.

    I could only hope my grandpa knows I love him. He also passed away after a few months from a bad fall but I didn't get to say goodbye. At least you did. Hugs!

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  4. I'm so so so sorry. There is never enough time; there are never enough words. But what we do do and do say matters, and it seems like you did those things in spades for your grandmother. I'm thinking of you, and I'm so sorry.

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  5. I am very deeply sorry for your loss. I wish you strength during this really sad time. I dealt with this with my grandma and know how horrible it all feels when it is happening. You were a wonderful granddaughter and you two seemed to have a beautiful bond. She knows how much you loved her. I hope for peace in your heart and I wish you all the best at this time.
    I am deeply sorry and will be thinking of you.

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  6. I'm so sorry for your loss Stephanie. Losing a loved one is awful, especially if you felt you had a special connection with her. You grandma sounds like a wonderful woman.

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  7. I am very sorry for your loss, I actually teared up a little reading your touching story. Sending some virtual hugs and love to help you deal with this sadness.

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  8. I know she heard you talking and singing to her even if she wasn't conscious. She got to meet Ben and see you in a wedding dress. That made her proud of you and made her happy. Try to focus on the good memories and not the what ifs. She knew you loved her and she loved you. She will always be with you in your heart and as your guardian angel. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  9. I'm thinking of you and sending love. There's nothing that I can say that will make it easier or better, so just know that I'm thinking of you & your family <3

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  10. I read your blog all the time and never comment, but this post makes me need to reach out. I am very sorry for your loss and I am sending gentle thoughts your way.

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  11. Steff...I'm so sorry you lost your grandma. You were an awesome granddaughter. There's not too many grandparents that are as close to their adult grandchildren as your grandmother was. I know I wasn't close with my grandma when she passed...but I can only hope that I can have the kind of relationship with my grandchildren that you and your grandmother shared. Call me if you ever need to talk :)

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  12. Peace and love to you Steff. It's very hard to enter this part of our progression through adulthood. I can say that with the perspective of being a lot older than most of your readers and certainly older than you with me here at a young 60. Grow and flourish with the love & time you shared. Hold your parents feelings close and be there for them. They are not 'that' oldest generation and it's very sobering to start to fill those shoes. You can be a strength for your parents as you yourself grieve. I am sure your grandma is very proud of all you have done and she expects everyone to carry on - she had done so as she got older and began to loose her loved ones. Thank you for sharing with us. This is good you feel comfortable enough to write up something about what has happened. Don't feel badly at all if you just go on a hiatus here. We will be here down the road.

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  13. I am so sorry for your loss : ( My deepest sympathy.

    It is good that you had the experience to share so many times with her and appreciate her. You will always treasure those memories and remember her. I know I really treasure my memories of both my grandmothers. I feel that they are a part of me, as I see traits of both of them within myself.

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  14. Stephanie, I have been reading your blog for awhile, and have never left a comment, until now. It is a sweet photo of you and your Grandma. I had that special connection with my Grandma, and when she died, I was living in another country, so there was no way I could have been there. My Grandma has been gone for many years now, and there is not a day that goes by that a memory of her does not flicker through my mind, in something that I do or say, a song I hear, or when I cook one of her recipes,or see her favorite color or flower, just all the ordinary every day things. You are in a lot of pain now, but you will get through it, and trust me when I say, your Grandma will be with you always in your heart and memories. So sad for you.
    Be kind to yourself. I believe she knew you were there and heard your voice, and knew it was okay for her to go.

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  15. My heart breaks for you -God will see you through

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  16. So sorry for your loss. Sending love and prayers to your family.

    I know this isn't going to make you feel better right now, but you are so lucky you had such a wonderful relationship with your grandmother -- I wish I knew what that was like -- I'm sure she'll be keeping a close eye on you on your wedding day and every day.

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  17. Steph, I've been reading your blog for ages (though I hardly ever comment) and I wanted to say you are just the most relatable person to me... I lost my grandmother three months ago, and this post just describes that process and those feelings brilliantly it made me burst out crying. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    But please, don't think about what could've been, but cherish the amazing bond and experiences you had with her -- not everyone has that. I am sure she is still with you :) Stay strong!

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  18. So sorry for your loss. tearing up as i type - as I can empathize with your situation to the dot. It's good that you got to say goodbye. And that feeling having to go to the hospital right that moment - i can relate. Grieve and know that she'll always be there with you.

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  19. Stephanie, I'm so sorry. But you got to spend so much time with her in the last few weeks, and I'm sure she was so happy you were there. You are lucky that you had a grandma this long and she was lucky that she had such a wonderful granddaughter.

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  20. I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your Grandma was wonderful, and you obviously made the most of the time you had with her. That's really special; not everyone does that. I will be sending well wishes your way.

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  21. I'm so sorry for you. But i'm pretty sure that she knew how much you loved her, and believe or not in these stuff, she is taking care of you in the other side. =)!

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  22. My condolences to you and your family. Focus on all the good times, the silly and quirky things, the jokes, the laughs, the moments you shared...your grandmother will allways be there inside your heart! That is the best way to remember and honour her. My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

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  23. Oh, so so sorry for you and your family. Hugs and good wisjes

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  24. Dear Stephanie,
    I'm sorry for your loss. Your relationship seems very valuable indeed. That is something to cherish. I'm very much reminded about my dear grandmother myself, thank you.
    All the best to you and your family.
    Many thoughts from Copenhagen

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  25. So incredibly sorry, Stephanie; my heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Cherish the beautiful memories you made with her in the last month or so, and let that light and love surround you. Praying peace over you...

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  26. Oh, Stephanie I'm so very sorry that your grandmother is gone! She seems to have been such a beautiful person. I wish I had words of comfort that would ease this for you. Let yourself feel whatever you need to - mourning has no rules or timeframe. You've honored your grandma by sharing your memories with all of us. Sending positive thoughts your way.

    ~Karli

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  27. The fact that your grandmother is wearing the snuggie like a robe is beyond precious. Sending love to you and your whole family Steph.

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  28. I'm so sorry for your loss. From everything you have said, it sounds as if you and your grandmother had a wonderful, loving relationship, and I hope the memories of that will bring you comfort. My mother's father, my last surviving grandparent, died when I was 24. He and I were very close. Like your grandmother, he was in the hospital, not communicative, and we only got there just after he passed. I still remember one of the nurses told us that it often happens that way: it's as if the person needs to do it alone.
    You're in my thoughts and prayers.

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  29. I'm so sorry for your loss... And I also want to thank you, because you made me realize that I'm not a good granddaughter. That sometimes (well, usually) I don't have the patience for my grandparents, I'm often rude, but I love them so so so much, and after your post, which have brought tears to my eyes, I understand that I have to gain this patience and show them my love, because they constantly show theirs to me. Thank you Stephanie for making me realize. I'll think of you and your lovely Grandma.

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  30. So sorry for you losing your grandma :(

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  31. I am so sorry for the loss of your grandmother. You were clearly a wonderful granddaughter, and she knew you loved her very much. She sounds like a very special lady and I know her absence will leave a hole in your heart.

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  32. Stephanie, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Grandmothers make the world go 'round and are truly irreplaceable.

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  33. Hi Stephanie. Sending love to you and the spirit of your beloved grandmother. Peace.

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  34. so sorry for your loss. it's hard to see a loved one go. i try to remember that what's important was not how they went, but how they lived. it's obvious that your grandmother was a wonderful person who loved and was loved. she lived a good life and that's the part of her that you should try to remember. sending hugs.

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  35. Stephanie, sometimes our loved ones deliberately wait until there is no one there to go. My mom did. My sis had been with her all day, just stepped out to go pick up her kids and come back. In that 20 minutes, Mom went free. No more pain, no more suffering.

    I'm sure your Grandmother cherished every moment you spent with her. I'm also sure that she took a lot of pride and happiness from watching you grow and build a life for yourself. I bet she wouldn't have changed that for the world.

    I know these losses are hard, and the first is the very worst. But it will get better. Your grandma is free now too. No more pain, no more suffering.

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  36. Hi Stephanie, I've been a silent reader of your blog for the past 18 months, but I had to comment on this article... I am so very sorry for your loss.

    My grandfather died 4 months ago, and we've always been close (I was much closer to him than I was to my dad, who also died, 2 1/2 yrs ago). I miss him terribly, and I try to be as much available as I can for my grandmother, calling her everyday, and seeing her every other weekend. I know someday she won't be around anymore, and I really dread this.

    We have the same kind of relationship than you had with your grandmother. And all those moments shared together are now treasured memories. You did all you could.

    I wish you a lot a courage. Some days will be harder than others, but grief will pass, and the warmth of the memories will take over, with time. Don't blame yourself.

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  37. Hi...I've never been to your blog before. However, I'm very sentimental and though I haven't been a follower as many of the others who commented have been, your story made me very teary. It reminded me of my mother's mother. I had what I now realize was an opportunity to live with her and my mom while I was in my second year of college. My thoughts then were all about me and I was quite a handful. I'm pretty sure my grandmother didn't think I was that great a granddaughter. She died a few years later when she was living with just my mom. Since then my mother has kept her mother alive in my heart and memories with stories both good and difficult...stories that humanize my grandmother for me. I do treasure Grandma's wonderful split pea soup recipe she left for my mom and me. And I still crack up thinking about the time she got up from her living room recliner and made her way across the room, letting out little noises of gas all the way. I was appalled and said, "Grandma!" Her reply was, "There's more room in the world than in my little tummy." Now I'm 51 and I take care of my mom. We both still use Grandma's line when we toot toot our way across a room. Something to think about: you made a point of investing yourself in your grandmother's life. And she was wise enough to know that not everybody does that no matter the relationship. You know that feeling you got coming out of that restaurant? That was her saying she was about to be free of pain but wanting you to know the bond between the two of you wasn't going to diminish at all. Grieving is so hard. But it can be made a little easier by doing things we love and know our loved ones knew about that love. Like your nail blog. I'm sure your grandmother looks forward to your being able to start it again. After all, your stories about her don't have to stop. You'd honor her by sharing more of them as you felt you could. Take care of yourself. Remember she loved you and would want that.

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