I wanted to write a post about something that is very personal to me, and a subject that is universal to us all.
However, it’s not grief as a whole that I wish to ramble on about, that’s a subject that has been covered umpteen times. And so it should be.
I wish to talk about the ways in which people handle grief. This topic comes from my own families experience of coping with the death of our Grandmother ( my Mums mother).
First, let me give you a little background information. For those of you whom are easily distressed, it may be in your best interests to not read the next few paragraphs.
My Grandmother suffered a death the likes of which all of us hope we will never have to see before our own eyes, much less experience at our own demise. She suffered terribly, the pancreatic cancer which ate away at her body ravaged her very quickly. I won’t go into the details of her illness but I will say that the authorities whom were assisting us in her care were wholly to blame for her pain. She had mental health problems caused by an aneurysm and the mental health authorities initially accused her of making the whole “thing” (that thing being her life threatening illness) up. They said that she was doing it for attention.
When her body was finally giving up the fight, she was moved to a hospice a two minute walk from my Mothers home. I can see the hospice from the bedroom of my childhood bedroom still. We knew that there was nothing more that could be done. The thing is, my Nan wasn’t ready to go, she was given enough morphine to floor two twenty stone men. Yet she hung on. She sweated, slipping in and out of lucidity, her six stone, skeletal frame fretting and shifting against whatever it is that death feels like. Sometimes in those last 48 hours she knew we were there. Sometimes she regressed to days gone by, snatches of speech falling upon ears that hadn’t known her then.
When the final moments came, it was just my sister and her alone in the room, my Mother just about managed to make it there in time. And it is their grief which I wish to use as the basis of this post.
Just short of 21 months on, my Mother is still stuck in limbo, she has recently been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder caused, mostly, but the way in which my Grandmother suffered and was treated during her illness. My sister too has been affected, seeing such a death at the age of 20 has had a very negative effect on her, both emotionally and mentally. I hope, one day, the good days outnumber the bad and they can both on with just the love for my Grandmother in their lives, not the ghosts of days gone by. I, on the other hand, feel that I have dealt with grief in a healthier way, I didn’t bottle up my feelings, and eventually came to accept that my Nan is now at peace. The lasting impact that my Grandmothers demise has had on my family as a whole though, is more than tangible.
Grief, I feel, is something that you either let leave you living in a half life, or that you embrace wholeheartedly, feel it in it’s entirety, and move on from. It never really leaves you, but it’s up to you how much you let it affect your future. The dead don’t have to be the dead. They can live on in you, but you have to let them. Not by mourning the absence of that persons physical presence in your life, but by taking all the memories, the lessons they taught you and the love that they gave you and putting them into the person you will become. Not the person you once were.
We don’t have to forget, but we do have to accept. All the wishing in the world won’t bring them back.