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My wonderful grandmother died, and I don't feel very sad

(26 Posts)
AprilFoolishness Mon 15-Apr-13 15:01:14

This might be a bit rambling, but I want to write this down to see if it makes any more sense to me.

My lovely grandma died on Friday, having declined quite rapidly in hospital over the previous week.

I am the only grandchild, and she doted on me. I have so many happy memores of her welcome when we arrived (she lived a couple of hours away from my childhood home), of spending time with her in their amazing garden, of her home made chocolate cake, the room she decorated for me specially in her house (pink, of course), of Christmas dinners and picking tomatoes on summer evenings, of her teasing my grandad and calling him a Silly Old Fool, and lots more.

She was 89 when she died and I probably saw her once a year for the past decade. I know that's not very much, but I used to travel a lot for work - I tried to send her a postcard from every country I visited. I have two young children, and I took them to see her the past two Christmasses. The last time I went we didn't know if I'd make it because of the snow and didn't want to disappoint her, so we kept it a surprise, and her face when she saw us all in my auntie's house was just brilliant.

Her husband died 15 years ago, and I believe only one of her brothers or sisters is still alive. She lived the past 15 years independently, in their old house. She suffered a couple of strokes, and no longer tended the garden (although she did have a man in until recently to keep it going). My auntie helped with shopping and whenever we visited it would be rare to sit for more than an hour uninterrupted before the door bell rang and a neighbour or friend came by for tea and biscuits.

A couple of weeks ago she started undergoing medical tests because she was anaemic, among other issues. My mum had a fairly stern conversation with her about not eating - her appetite had waned a lot, but she was now basically existing on tea and biscuits. Together with my granddad they ran a farm for 40 years, their garden won prizes for produce and flowers (she once received a letter through the post addressed to 'Mrs & Mrs F - the house with the hanging baskets' and the postman recognised it as hers!), she kept chickens and had so much veg and eggs that they lived almost entirely on a barter system with old farming friends who would drop round a brace of pheasants or leg of lamb in return for boxes of eggs, jams and beans. Her chocolate cakes were legendary. When I left home and started running my own home I used to talk to her about food and food fashions a lot during our phone conversations. To me, her deciding that she no longer wanted food was her deciding it was time to let go.

She had a bad fall (most likely down the steep stairs she refused to let anyone change), was admitted to hospital and never got out of bed. For the first few days she was lucid and relatively upbeat - when a doctor told her he'd come to 'Take her for an X-ray', she interjected with 'Execution!' before he could finish. But she was still in pain, they increased the morphine and she became less conscious, finally slipping away on Friday.

My dad is obviously upset. When it became clear that she was on a downward slide I talked about whether I should go and see her and it was agreed that as she didn't really know who was there by that point, and that if she had realised I was there it might have distressed her because she wouldn't have been able to communicate, that I shouldn't and I didn't. My last memory of her is of her eating Christmas trifle and chuckling as my son threw jelly around my aunt's pristine kitchen, and I'm very happy that's the case.

The funeral isn't for a couple of weeks, and we're going away in the interim. There was some suggestion that might be a problem - i.e. that I would be too upset to go on holiday until the funeral. I don't feel that at all. In fact we've had friends here all weekend and I've been drinking wine and talking rubbish and playing with our children, and generally having a lovely time. I intend to go on holiday and have fun. And then I intend to go to the funeral and remember a life well lived, and as good a death as my Grandmother could have hoped for. I shed a little tear last night watching my son and thinking that he would never experience the unconditional love I enjoyed from her, but I'm not mourning. Is that odd?

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 15-Apr-13 15:04:08

Sorry for you loss. The sadness may come. I lost my Grandmother bloody awesome like yours sounds and was fine, fine, fine. Then one day, uncontrollable sobbing into the washing up. Mourning is a funny thing. thanks

Squitten Mon 15-Apr-13 15:05:45

You are mourning - just in your own way. There aren't any rules about it you know. As you say, you intend to honour a life well lived and remember her as the happy person she was. Sounds fine to me.

Also, it sounds like you've been very busy since she died so it might be waiting to clobber you, so to speak. Don't be surprised if you have an unexpected reaction at the funeral. You may suddenly feel very sad when you're facing it all on the day. That was what happened to me when my Grandad died.

Wishiwasanheiress Mon 15-Apr-13 15:09:32

Give it time. Grief is as individual as joy! It's not prescribed. Maybe a tsunami will hit, maybe it won't. Either way as long as u remember her with love and gratefulness for having known her then I think it's ok. Sounds like a wonderful relationship. U were blessed and so was she.

Mumsyblouse Mon 15-Apr-13 15:10:50

As everyone says, you mourn in your own way. But at the moment, nothing has really changed for you, you can almost pretend she is still there and nothing is different, you didn't see her sick and you don't see her very frequently anyway (not a criticism, you obviously saw her regularly and in a lovely way, taking your children). I do agree that when you come across a more tangible evidence she is really gone, such as at the funeral, it might all feel very different.

But, once you have cried an hour or two, you still have to do the shopping, the cooking, look after the kids. So, life does go on.

GilmoursPillow Mon 15-Apr-13 15:10:52

No it's not odd.

My lovely grandmother died 2 years whilst I was overseas. I was very upset when she died and cried my eyes out that night. I left that country a couple of days later to stop in England on my way home. The funeral was arranged for my last day in England but the kids and I still enjoyed a couple of days in London.
I cried at the end of her funeral but was fine after. A few days after I got home someone posted on here how upset they were at the loss of their grandmother and I really couldn't relate.

However, a couple of weeks later it seemed to really hit home and I felt different. There was a lot of bickering over her possessions and in my mind I'd be ready to call her and tell her what pricks people were being and the realisation knocked me sideways.

There's obviously no shortage of feeling and love so however you feel is natural and normal, there's no regulation mourning.

I'm sorry for your loss.

JustinBsMum Mon 15-Apr-13 15:11:13

For me it wasn't so much distress that she had died, more sadness that the happy times were of the past and never to return, and never a chance to remind her about them (or thank her). And that came much later and still does.

jennybeadle Mon 15-Apr-13 15:13:09

So sorry for your loss. You clearly loved her a great deal.

There is no real template for these situations, I think. I was just like you when my beloved GM died, and happily drove the 600 miles to her funeral with my 10wo baby. However, the sight of her coffin completely threw me. Do prepare yourself for an expected reaction later - and don't worry if that doesn't come! Whatever is right for you, is right, I think.

arabesque Mon 15-Apr-13 15:15:38

My father died last year. For the first two weeks my mother was absolutely fine - organising the funeral, sorting out paper work, etc etc. Then one day she just broke down completely and could barely go out of the house for weeks.
I also found I got much more upset a few months after his death than at the actual time. It takes a while for a major loss to sink in and also, as another poster has said, there's no regulation or blueprint for the mourning process.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 15-Apr-13 15:18:27

No, I think it is very individual, as others say.

My granny died a few years ago, and I looked after her a lot and she knew she was dying, so we got to talk about this insofar as she could manage to be intelligible (she had brain cancer and it affected her speech). She believed very firmly that it was morally right to fight her illness but she still made it quite clear she was hating being ill and slipping away, and she missed my grandpa so much. I read up on this sort of thing a lot after she died and it seems quite normal. She knew, and I knew. And when she died, I was sad, but I was also relieved for her and I'm absolutely sure she would have felt that was right.

When I'm sad now, it's as you say - it's the happy memories (especially of her and my grandpa) that I miss, not the memories of her as a very ill, confused person who was in pain. She herself wouldn't miss that and I don't think it is in any way wrong that your emotions are telling you not to miss that.

JollyGolightly Mon 15-Apr-13 15:19:57

My granny died recently at the age of 99. She was ill, demented, and resentful about the state she was in. I was glad for her that it was over. She had a long, full life and it was her time. Death is part of life, and we don't always have to be sad when it happens.

StealthPolarBear Mon 15-Apr-13 15:23:47

She sounds brilliant.
I lost my grandpa recently, he was 86 and fit and healthy until a couple of weeks before he died. At the time I was coping fine and still am - he had a long happy life full of love, and dying after a short illness in your mid eighties is a good thing I think. But the grief has hit hard since, and when I'm not expecting it. I psyched myself up for his first birthday since he died and so was fine. But I was tidying our notice board and found a poem he gave us when we got married, and started to cry.
I'm glad your grandma had a full happy life and died knowing her family were around her.

AprilFoolishness Mon 15-Apr-13 15:27:06

Thank you all for your lovely words, they've made me cry even if the calls from home didn't!
Not quite the same situation as your granny LRD, but mine would often talk about 'not being around' for X. When DH and I announced our wedding she wasn't quite sure if she'd still be here to go, and that was 5 years ago! She came, she had an amazing time. Last year she had an eye operation which massively improved her sight and quality of life, but she'd still occasionally say it. In fact the last time I spoke to her I thanked her for the kids' Christmas present (which took a long time to get to me via a complex system of cheques and bank transfers as my entire family have a pathological fear of internet banking!) and she commented that Christmas might be the last time she saw them. It wasn't in a particularly mawkish way, in fact I think she used to say it 'straighter' with me than anyone else, I think she just knew. She was a wise old bird.

StealthPolarBear Mon 15-Apr-13 15:28:45

I dd mean to add sorry for your loss

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 15-Apr-13 15:28:57

She sounds lovely, and your memories of her are obviously important ones.

Hope you do keep feeling ok - keep the good times close!

WilsonFrickett Mon 15-Apr-13 15:34:14

She sounds lovely and your post is beautiful. May we all live as well and have someone remember us like that when we go.

As for how you grieve - there aren't any rules. thanks

Startail Mon 15-Apr-13 15:34:14

I'm crying now remembering my Grandparents, but they too died at the proper time with their lives well lived.

I will never grieve for them as I grieve for my wonderful eccentric DMIL who died before all, but one of her Grand children were born. She would have loved to have known DSIL had children and have shared her vest for life with them.

You will cry for your grandmother, but you will cry not just for her, but for the child you can never be again.

It's different kind of grief to the grief you feel when you loose someone before you were ready to say good bye.

tomatoplantproject Mon 15-Apr-13 15:38:03

Take one day at a time and just do what feels right - celebrating her life however seems right to you. Be gentle with yourself over the coming days though.

My wonderful, crazy, amazing granny died a few years ago after a sharp decline. I was devastated as soon as I heard the news and cried amy heart out for several days. The family asked me to read a poem at her funeral an I honestly didn't think I would be able to get through it. I had my brother on standby as my backup for the reading. He arrived having not shed a tear until that point and it then hit him during the cremation part of the day. I did the reading and got through it fine - partly because I'd already wept my heart out.

I still shed the occasional tear - I am sure that she had a hand in bringing me and dh together, our wedding and our dd would have brought her so much pleasure. I mourn her not being able to join in life's happiest events. I still don't miss her cooking though.

curryeater Mon 15-Apr-13 15:52:39

I'm sorry for your loss.
I think it is lovely that you wrote that long post celebrating your grandmother's uniqueness and all the ways in which she was special, and special to you. It has become a cliche to describe funerals or memorial services as "celebrations of x's life" but this is what you are doing, and it is wonderful.
My grandma was amazing too. I can remember feeling proud walking out of the church behind her coffin, behind my mother and my aunt (her daughters) singing the hymn lustily, no staggering, no tears, just grand solid women celebrating their magnificent mother. It is a good way to be.

WildlingPrincess Mon 15-Apr-13 15:58:32

My Grandad died just before Christmas. I didn't feel very much at the time, and it's only now it's hit me. Everybody grieves differently. Sorry for your loss flowers

edwardsmum11 Mon 15-Apr-13 16:11:23

My grandma died just before Christmas and I was fine until I stepped into her flat and saw her possessions without grandma.... I rarely cry but seeing them without her shocked me.

macreturnofthe Mon 15-Apr-13 16:14:00

i think you are doing the right thing.

When my Gran died I went to visit her in hospital and it still upsets me now many years later - she held my hand and asked where's Mac is she coming in to see me?' So although I may have offered some short term comfort, it took a long time to get past the sadness and remember the lovely things we did together.

So, my advise, don't feel guilty, the best way you can pay tribute to a life well lived is to live your life well and pass on those memories through your children.

Lucyellensmum95 Mon 15-Apr-13 16:19:51

That is such a beautiful OP, i have goosebumps - your gran lived a full and happy life, why should you feel sad? Sad for you yes, but it was her time. Yes, the sadness may come but you should not feel guilty for not being wracked with grief. I think what your feeling is fine. She sounds like such a wonderful person and you were lucky to have each other, that should be celebrated.

It took me several years before I was ready to really mourn my grandma. You will do it in your own time and way and that is ok smile You don't have to wail and beat your breast in order to be worthy of your grandma.

BiddyPop Mon 15-Apr-13 16:47:05

My last Gran died this day last week (and we had the funeral already as it's Ireland). She was 93 and bedbound in the past 10 months due to congestive heart failure - but she was comfortable and happy in herself mostly (short term memory gone so that took away the ongoing reality of being stuck there all the time - she asked one afternoon, about 5 months after not eating at all, if she'd had her meal yet that day that she was hungry, and started eating again last November!! smile ).

It was a relief to us all that she is now joined with Grandad again (even I am not particularly religious, but they had such faith themselves and were married for over 60 happy years together, that it just HAS to be). And her eldest daughter no longer has the main caring burden (although all 3 girls and some paid help did it together, with the boys doing other things like baking buns and sitting with her).

I have been so busy this past week that I haven't had a chance to process it properly. So I know I am grieving, and happy that she has had her release too, but I haven't cried yet (apart from the shudders as we left the church). I almost lost it when I got back to my seat after reading a prayer in the funeral service, but couldn't then. DH is still away until this weekend, so I am doing it alone with DD (aged 7 and SN), and I didn't even have any siblings staying with me so I just did all the housework and organising I needed to each day and went to bed to sleep. I am still exhausted drained.

The next 4 weekends all have major events on too - gatherings on both sides of the immediate and more extended families (including people from overseas) for a 40th birthday, 5th birthday, wedding, 30th birthday and the Month's Mind for Gran. (And DH leaving again that last weekend). So I have to put aside my stuff until later in May if I can (and I know you can't always).

When my other Gran died last July, I coped with the funeral etc ok, and we went on holidays that weekend as planned. I don't think I would have enjoyed that holiday any more really in other circumstances, I probably would have worried more on hols if she hadn't passed away before we went. I have had time to come to terms with it in the interim, and yes it did hit me at odd times.

If YOU want to go on hols, and feel that you are up to it, then go.

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