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Old 07-30-2010, 02:24 AM   #1
Earning My Ears
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My great-grandmother...

This is going to be long winded, I apologize for that right now, but I feel like I need to get this out.

About two months ago my 104 year old (not a typo) great-grandmother fell in the middle of the night while walking without using her walker and broke her hip. She had surgery and was placed in a care facility and her hip healed, but she refused physical therapy and hasn't walked since. She's been refusing medication and she refuses to eat. She's now in a hospice waiting to die, and it kills me. She practically raised me, as my mother had a full time job, so we are close, I am her "favorite". She lived next door to us with my grandmother, so I saw her pretty much every day. Right up until the fall she was active, and even now she is still sharp as a tack, mentally; when I was little I used to say she was like Sophia from the Golden Girls, she always spoke her mind and was feisty.

I went to visit her today, and she told me that she is ready to die. I try to rationalize it by saying she lived a lot longer than most people, even twice as long as some. I tell myself that I got to spend 27 years with her, and that I'm lucky that I had that long of a time with her. I feel selfish that I don't want her to go. I know it's coming soon, and I don't know how to deal with her impending death. It's not like I never experienced death before, my grandfather died when I was 11, and my father died when I was 20. But I didn't feel the way I do now, about my great-grandmother. When I was little, like 6 or 7 years old, some nights I used to cry myself to sleep thinking about this moment. Now it's almost here, it's my worst fears coming true. I'm scared about how I will handle her passing. Today she said to me as we held hands "We had a good life together, didn't we?". What does one say to that? I wanted to bust out crying.

If anyone has any advice, or kind words, I can really use them right now, and thank you for letting me babble.
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Old 07-30-2010, 02:13 PM   #2
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I don't have any comforting words but just repeating what you said: take solace in how much time you had with her.

When people make up their mind that it's time to go and their will is gone, there isn't anything you can do. It is very hard to understand if you are a young person. As you age and your health starts to decline and things bother you, you start to really understand why a woman of 104 years old would choose to do this. I know I would not have understood it when I was younger, but I do now.

I remember when my grandmother was going downhill and I was about 20, all I could say to her was "Well, if you just exercise a little bit and do X, and Y, and Z, you'll get back to your old self." I was convinced that she could. She was 78 and she felt she couldn't.

Hip fractures in the elderly are odd things. I once had a doctor tell me that it is a misconception that the elderly "fall and break their hip." What really happens in most cases is that they get up, don't use support, stress the bones, and the break their hip while standing and THEN fall. The bones are that brittle in the hips of women.

So, your grandmother probably doesn't feel all that well "structurally" if that makes sense? My 64 year old aunt "broke her hip and fell". Being so young, we thought she would be fine. She healed, as your great-grandmother is doing, but she wasn't right after the fracture and she died within 2 months of the incident. It was strange.

I guess the point of my rambling is that your great-grandmother is ready to go, probably mentally and physically. I know you will miss her but please take to heart that she has been lucky enough to be able to choose how and when her life ends.

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Old 07-30-2010, 08:18 PM   #3
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I have lots of tears in my eyes

I honestly would not know what to say if I were you. I think I would speak from my heart. Tell her all the things you told us here. How you feel about her, and how life was with her in it. I would not let that chance go by.

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Old 07-30-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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My father died last month after a two year battle with lung cancer. When he was diagnosed, I began preparing myself. His attitude the entire time was nothing short of inspiring. He was my hero, and I loved him more than I could ever explain. What gives me the greatest comfort now is living my life the way he would want me to. Instead of wallowing, I concentrate on how lucky I've been to be in my late 40s and only now lose one of my parents. When I want to feel sorry for myself, I think about parents losing children, young kids losing a parent. That puts everything into perspective for me. Yes, I will always miss my father, but how lucky I was to be raised by such a great man. You will miss your great grandmother, but what a blessing to have had her in your life for so long.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:51 PM   #5
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You expressed in your words very much the relationship I had with my Grandmother, and how I felt when the day came I got called from work to say goodbye. I held her hand, I told her I would live right so I would see her again someday(my religious belief), I thanked her for teaching me, and loving me and showing me how to love. I kissed her goodbye. And I cried all the way back to work. ( we had thought she was going before, though I had never said goodbye, I think she was waiting for us to say goodbye). I cried at her funeral, sobbed actually, but my cousin was there and there used to be a joke, that "Gram loved me most" In between my sobs my DC would look at me & point to herself. See, Gram lives on. Your Great-Grandmother will live on in you. That is what this kind of love is all about. Leaving big pieces behind. I hope you find comfort in the warmth she will leave in you.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:44 AM   #6
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My dad passed away two months ago and I had a similar experience. He was 89 and had been on dialysis for 9 months. He stopped dialysis in the beginning of May and then on Mother's Day he told me didn't have much time left. I looked at him and had nothing to say. What could I say, don't leave me? It's what I wanted to say. A week later he was gone and I was completely heartbroken.

I am 33 and like you when I was little I was always afraid my dad wouldn't make it til I was this age. So, I understand where you are right now. There really is no way to prepare. My dad was in hospice care for two weeks. You knew it was coming and there was nothing I could do about it but wait for it to happen. For the last 5 days, I literally sat day and night by his bed. I had an overwhelming fear that he would go and I wouldn't be there. I was afraid to even go to the restroom. When the moment came, I was there, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

At one point, we were told to have everyone say their goodbyes. At the time, I couldn't imagine anything worse. Having people say goodbye to him. How would he feel about that? I made my brief, I didn't say goodbye (I couldn't). I told him that I loved him and that he was great dad and grandfather. I asked him to watch over me and my kids. Now, I am glad people got to say goodbye because he was able to see how much he was loved.

You are not going to be ready to let her go. But you need to focus on the time you had with her. Be there with her if possible. Show her how much you love her. Know it's ok to not want her to go. Know it's going to take a lot of time. Know that she loved you, you were her favorite, and carry that with you forever.

Please know if you need to vent some more, we're here...
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:46 AM   #7
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Thanks for the kind words & advice, everyone. It's a super difficult time for me right now, and it's so nice to know that there are people out there that care. I know my great-grandmother is on borrowed time right now, all I can do now is wait and try to be ready (it won't be easy, I know).
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