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In advance of bereavements - any advice?(4 Posts)
I hope I'm putting this in the right place.
My 2 grandmothers are both starting to fade, rather quickly. There were crises for both over Christmas, but they rallied, but now seem to be going downhill again. One is 92, the other 95. It's mainly old age, and they are both having short term memory problems. One lives at home with a spinster daughter and lots of support, and other family close. The other has recently returned home (by choice but too early) from a hospital stay, and lives alone with not nearly enough support (the daughter in this city is the breadwinner for her family, my mum lives in another city and is pretty tied up on lots of stuff and her son scrapes by and cannot do a lot for her, the home help team goes once a day but has had a number of mixups, and hospital never liaised for extra hours she needs). Both live in my city, while my parents both live 160 miles away. Our own family life is hectic (DH and I both work FT in stressful jobs, DD is being assessed for poss aspergers, and DH is about to go overseas again for another (regular) 3 week stint), so we try to see them when we can but I feel guilty that it's not nearly enough. Ironically, we probably see the one living further away more often as we keep her garden (easily 40 mins drive each way off peak, versus about 15 mins drive off peak to the other).
That's mostly by way of backstory - they are elderly, lived good lives, and are in relatively ok situations but age is a real factor.
We have a 6yr old DD, who knows them both well. She saw both over Christmas, and has been in to hospital to visit the 95 year old plenty (not seriously ill, more recuperation types of stays) over the past year. She does understand that both of them are forgetting things a lot and that we'll have the same conversation a good few times in any one visit.
She also remembers my grandad who died almost 2 years ago, fairly well. She had only been to see him once in hospital (he had a stroke and didn't leave hospital after that), but he'd be fine before that and she used to visit with me a fair amount. (This is the gran who has a daughter living with her). We have gone to his grave together, and she came to the church for removal services (but not the funeral).
She also comes to the grave of my other grandad sometimes when I visit, who died almost 20 years ago.
I am trying to figure out what to tell her at the minute, whether to bring her to see grannies (well, not my next visit, but perhaps over the weekend), and mainly what to do when they both do die. In one case, I think no eyelid would be batted whatever we want to do. But in the other case, funerals are "not for children" and there were eyebrows raised when DD was in the church for the evening ceremony (the other great-grandkids are younger and abroad so didn't travel, but 3 grandkids (8,4 and 1) were not involved at all). Meanwhile, I had felt that he was DD's great-grandad, she wanted to be there and I DID respect others by not bringing her to the house (open casket). She wasn't in the way or at people at all.
I know that the main carer and 1 other brother have agreed that the same arrangements will be used in this case as for her DH, and I want to be organised in my own head for dealing with it when the time comes. It could well happen when my DH is overseas, and as I have an aupair now, I will be under a lot more pressure in lots of ways (like only 1 bed for siblings, and no DH to back me up on our choices, and having to arrange AP to bring DD to the right place at the right time using public transport).
Sorry, this wasn't meant to be a lifestory - but I am just trying to get my plans in place, as much as that is possible, for when the inevitable happens. So that I can have headspace to feel and deal with DD herself and the rest of my family, knowing that the organising bit is under control.
Lots of points! I'll try and answer some, but it'll be from my point of view so ignore as you want
Your daughter is old enough to be around an ill granny, so unless there is infection I'd take her, but perhaps only for short visits or when there s another adult
Funerals are a normal part of our society, so I'd take a 6 year old, but with another adult who could take her out as necessary
Planning ahead, it's impossible. Your grandmothers coud last for years or days. I'd concentrate on spending time with them, but not too the detriment of everything else.
Thanks Eaglewings - I do bring her to visit a lot in general, but after one bad visit to hospital when grandad was ill (just too much going on and my sis had wound her up too much in advance, and sis was overly boisterous in there also), I do keep them short.
I think I am more trying to get my head around the ways and means to do what's right for OUR family (DH, DD and I) while negotiating the palaver that I know will happen in the wider family. And what to do is it happens while DH is overseas as I won;t have anyone to tell me that I am being OTT or that's what normal families do....
I just wanted to come back to this, rather than starting a new thread.
The weaker of the 2 Grans had been in hospital for a couple of weeks in the spring, and the family decided that it distressed her so much that she wouldn't go in again. She is at home, has been confined to bed since early May, but having had a bad spell in early July, is now (somewhat) stronger again and celebrated her 93rd birthday recently (in fact, 2 days after the other Gran's funeral). DD has been to visit occasionally - more to see my aunt than to go upstairs to Gran. But she has been up to Gran too. I have managed to get there reasonably frequently too.
The other Gran had gone back into a hospital setting not that long after I posted earlier in the year. She was in the hospital part of an institution that also does long term care, where her leg was being treated. And once that healed sufficiently, she was moved to a room in the long-stay part, which was a nice bright room facing onto the garden. I was in and out a lot there over the space of 3 months or so, as I was able to visit from work over lunchtimes and call in the odd evening as well. DD came with me the 1st day I saw her in the long-stay part, 5 days after she got there (a thursday). Gran was in great form and had a great chat with the 2 of us that day, and I promised to bring some plants for her balcony when I came the next time. Saturday the following week, we (DH, DD and I) had bought the plants to bring to her on Sunday, as we drove over to do her garden. But as there was a problem with the alarm, I had to ring my aunt - who rang back once we had that sorted and told me that she was in the hospital as the family had been called in. So we did the garden, and as we had the plants, my aunt was distressed and my mum was on her way but a few hours away yet, we went over to the hospital too. Gran was asleep, and DH got a chance to go in to see her after I had been in for a while. DD decided that she wouldn't, so I stayed with her outside while DH went in, and then they went home with my aunt (who needed more painkillers for an injury herself), and I stayed on with Gran until my mum and dad arrived a couple of hours later. We had brought the plants in as well, and I put a sprig of the lavendar onto her pillow.
Gran slipped away early on that Sunday morning (3 weeks ago now), so I was so glad we were able to visit that day. Especially as it had all been so sudden in the end. DD came to the removal in the house with me as DH was still at work, but she was happy to be busy in the kitchen and chatting with various relatives that day. We gave her the choice of going with us to the funeral, or seeing if her creche (afterschool club) could take her for the day of the funeral - and she chose the creche. As it happened, they were going on a trip to a sports stadium that day and could take her, so she had a great day (sports mad), and we could relax and deal with our own grief (DH was very cut up as well). I am really glad she did in the end, as both DH and I found the closing of the curtains in the crematorium really hard, and I think she would have been very upset at that (our reaction to it, I mean).
She is very matter of fact about it all, and I am very surprised at how upset I have been. (Not with her, I think it was just the suddenness of it all and it having been the gran I was expecting to go on for ages given her recent good form).