The Loss of My Grandma

This is definitely a blog post instead of a video.  I have a policy against (real) crying on YouTube.  Plus YouTube has had issues with their advertisers and will send me a message that it’s not approved for monetization, I think because I used the keyword “death”, which gives their automated flagging system concern that I’ve made a death video maybe?  I made a brief video mentioning that I was still alive, but my grandma passed away.  I can write this without receiving an annoying message that it’s defective in some way.

Anyway, I am struggling with grief right now, but it’s different this time.  She lived for 92 long years and sometimes people think it’s less sad when a person is old when they die.  OK, it’s not a huge tragedy and unexpected, but our loved ones can’t ever be replaced, even when they did or said things on a regular basis that maybe hurt or annoyed us.

The difference is, we lost her a little bit at a time, so by the time she was gone, there wasn’t the sense of shock, like jumping into ice cold water.  The visits with her were less and less.  She lost her ability to drive.  She couldn’t handle being at our house for very long anymore.  Outings were later out of the question and she didn’t even come over on Christmas Day. She stopped writing.  She stopped reading. We were eased into a life without Grandma.  She understood everything until the very end, but it was very hard for her to talk.  It’s not that I ever would have wished for her to pass away, but I didn’t want her to suffer anymore, lying in her hospital bed alone for countless hours.  She wanted to move on.  She asked my uncle why he was crying and he said, “I’m going to miss you.”  She said, “Just think of all of the hellos I get to say!”  She longed to be reunited with the three children she lost and my grandpa.

She told my cousin, “Don’t be sad.  I’m happy.”

I’m trying to be happy for her now, but the waves of sadness keep coming.  She was the only grandparent I ever truly knew.  My other grandma has been missing for over 40 years and disappeared before I was born. One grandpa had major strokes that made it impossible to talk for the most part and my other grandpa damaged his brain with alcohol to the point that he couldn’t really carry on a conversation.  He literally drank himself to death.  When he was in a home, he used to go for walks and some bartender felt sorry for him and gave him free drinks.  He drank himself into a coma.  I was a teenager and I watched him have seizures in the hospital, which he did every ten minutes for a week before he finally passed away.  I was devastated simply because we didn’t get to have a relationship.  He wasted his life on alcohol.

I’m left with this overwhelming feeling now that my parents are next and I don’t want to face it.  I couldn’t wait to grow up when I was young, but didn’t consider that that meant my parents aging.  I wanted certain benefits of being older and then I wanted time to freeze.

There’s so much focus on living as long as humanly possible, but I no longer have that wish.  I want to live a decent amount of time, but not long enough to be forgotten.  Not long enough to be put into a home where I will most likely be neglected.  Not long enough to realize all of my friends are gone or to lose control of bodily functions.  Yes, it is a blessing to be with our loved ones, but I want to do the things I love.  I would rather serve in some way on the other side than wait in bed for my death day after day.

Sorry if this is depressing, but that’s how I feel right now.  One day my grandma complained, “My doctor said I could live another fifteen years.”  I joked that I wanted her to live to be 100 so she could be on the Smuckers jar on The Today Show.  They always feature people turn age 100 or above.

I’m OK with being on the jam jar as song as I can still walk, make people laugh, play the piano, etc.

I’m alternating between the stages of grief, but it seems like denial and acceptance kind of feel the same.  I was laughing hysterically at a party last night and then today while I was working on chores around the house, I felt waves of sadness and emptiness. I thought, “I wonder what’s bothering me?”  Duh!  My grandma passed away less than three weeks ago.

I don’t have to feel less sad because she lived a long life.  There are no grief rules.  I have some friends who were both widowed and later married each other, but they are able to tell each other how much they still mourn their spouses.  I think that’s healthy and wonderful.  We don’t just forget those we love.

I do try to distract myself from being sad and feel a lot better when I’m with people, but it’s like the grief is waiting for me when they’re gone.

I love her for lots of reasons and I miss her even though she took jabs at my weight.  I think that’s mostly a generational thing and sometimes I actually found it kind of amusing. One day I told my aunt, “Watch Grandma when I say I’m starving right after dinner.”  Sure enough, the moment the plates were cleared, I said, “When’s dessert?  I’m STARVING!”  Grandma exclaimed in horror, “SARAH!!!!!”  She had no idea I was joking.  She also loved to talk politics and I seriously preferred that she talk about my weight instead.

I admired her most for the way she took care of her daughter and her children, my grandpa, and her own mother for as long as possible.   She also created family history pages every year as gifts for years, which I am so grateful for.  Writing is one thing we have in common, although I’m not sure if she knew that.

I just needed to get these feelings out and now I will put the lid on the can of his Almond Roca my family brought home from the store.  🙂

Telling People “Too Soon” That You’re Pregnant

I’m sure many of you have seen the video of the couple who discovered they were pregnant when the husband brought home a pregnancy test and removed his wife’s “sample” from the toilet, knowing that she didn’t flush in the middle of the night for fear of waking their kids.

The day after they announced the news via YouTube, they suffered a miscarriage.  There were many supportive and kind comments posted to them, but also a lot of opinions that they had told people too soon.  One woman even said she had suffered a “miscarriage” at 5 months and she learned not to tell people so early.  5 months?  I don’t think that’s considered a miscarriage at that point.

Pregnancy loss can happen at any stage.  Years ago between my third and fourth child, I became pregnant and decided I would do the sensible thing that everyone recommends and wait until my second trimester.  I didn’t test positive until I was 18 days late.  Three days later, my nausea suddenly disappeared along with my sensitivity to all odors.  I knew something was wrong.  I took a test and the line was much lighter than the last time.  I made a doctor appointment and the test was at first negative.  I said, “No, that doesn’t make sense.”  The nurse went and looked again and it was then positive.

My doctor sent me for a blood test and by the time she called me with the results, I had started spotting.  I told her I already knew the bad news.  I was having a miscarriage. She said, “Wow, you must really be in tune with your body!”  Well it’s hard not to notice when you suddenly feel normal again.

I didn’t feel a sense of relief that I hadn’t told anyone.  I felt alone.  I told my mom and a couple friends, but that was about it.  The next week I was at a crafting event called “Super Saturday” (No, I’m not a crafty person) when someone asked me out of the blue, “Do you know who all’s pregnant right now?”  I felt stunned and found myself blurting out, “I was last week and now I’m not.”

I had gone there to try to cheer myself up by being around friends, but there’s no escaping those situations and feelings when you lose a baby.  I was devastated.

When I was pregnant with my first, it was after trying for 2 years.  I was so excited that I could even get pregnant, I told everyone.  One man said, “Should you be telling people already?”  I told him I knew there was a risk in having to tell people I had a miscarriage, but I was so happy, I just had to share that happiness with everyone.

My point:  Let people share their pregnancy news when they want to.  It’s their decision. My friends who have lost babies say one of the hardest things is that no one talks about their child. For people not to know my baby ever existed at all was heartbreaking to me.  I didn’t feel protected by following the second trimester “rule”.