Should I feel guilty?

My mother called me yesterday to tell me that my Gran (her Mother) has had a stroke. I haven’t seen Gran in months, maybe even a full year now and the news was completely expected. Gran is 88 and has been ill for sometime now. She is a shadow of the person she used to be.

People die. It is the only thing that is certain to happen in your life; you will eventually die. My Gran will die and I have this cold, matter-of-fact, acceptance of this. The news did not inspire concern or worry in me. I didn’t think to myself, ‘I hope she is ok, I hope she pulls through’. I know that one day, one day soon, she will pass on after a long, hard life, and that her suffering will be at an end. She is blind, bored, lonely and I would imagine frustrated. My Gran was always such a strong lady. She raised eleven children by herself after her husband died when the youngest child was still a baby. She never remarried. This woman is an example of how one should lead their lives when faced with adversity. She never gave up, never threw in the towel, she did everything to keep her family together. I want to remember this woman I have such respect for as the strong character I knew in years gone by. I don’t want to see her as I know I will be effected by what I see. Is this selfish?

I do not think I will see my Gran before she dies. I have no plans to travel to Grimsby to see her as I know it will be painful for me. Am I right to put my concerns for me above those of others? What benefit would she get from my visit before her death? Sometimes I feel so cold and heartless that it makes me feel sick. Surely most ordinary people would be making plans to get to her bedside to see her before the inevitable, but not me. I wonder what this means? What effect this has on my personality. My biggest worry is my Mother. She has always been close to Granny, always. I know she is upset by this turn of events. I know she feels guilty because she lives away too. I know she will be wanting to get to see her Mother and I think that is entirely natural and expected. Should I go with her? Should I go to support her?

The extended family group is not one I am close to. In fact, I haven’t seen most of them for years and wouldn’t recognise many of the legion of cousins, half-cousins, second-cousins, spouses, uncles, aunts who make up the Mawer clan. I stand outside of that group and would be unable to share their grief. For that reason I do not want to be part of the impending tragedy. I would feel alien and awkward knowing that I do not share the depth of tragedy that they do.

I will go to the funeral – I’m talking as if she is already dead, and perhaps the woman I knew is already dead. The body is a vessel of consciousness. A shell, and at death it is an empty shell. The soul (if such a thing exists) is the sum total of a person, the body, frail as it is, will falter and fail. – I will go to pay my last respects and then I will commit this woman to memory. To my memories where she will remain for as long as I live.

I’m crying now. Big bad me is crying over this loss. I suppose this means it effects me more than I thought it did, or perhaps it is just the realisation that someone I loved has already gone. I have to stop. I love you, Gran, I will miss you, but I can’t see what has become of you now, lest it destroys the memories I have of you from when I was a boy.



16 thoughts on “Should I feel guilty?

  1. DT, I’m not a psychologist, nor do I pretend that I am wise. But, some years ago, I lost my grandmother to lung cancer. At the time, I was very young, and my parents thought it would be best if I didn’t see her at the hospital, considering the terrible shape she was in. It stands as one of the few decisions that they made which I personally regret. I loved that woman more than life itself. For some time after her death, I felt as if I had lost faith in everything was or could be right in this universe. I am not your personal friend and I don’t you very well, but if you would like some simple advice, then here goes: go see your grandmother. Be with her in these troubled times. She needs to feel your presence around her and with her. Remind her of the strong fighter that she used to be, and may still be. Take nothing out of it for yourself. Simply let her realize, that though she may die soon, you will always remember the contribution that she made in your life. You just can’t realize how much of a difference that can make in a person’s life. Show her the same love and respect she showed you. Now I’m crying. Good luck, DT.


  2. I know not of a loss at my age (24). I lost my grandmother when I was young (I think 9 or 10). I lost an uncle not long after (12 or 14 years old). It wasn’t easy then but when your young I feel you don’t understand as much. I have other family that is getting old, my uncle just turned 70 something. I try not to think about it often, because that is one weakness I think we all have. We don’t always fear death when it comes to ourseleves, but yet the pain of death when we lose someone we love.

    I’m going to be honest and say, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes, but I know I will be down that road again in life. I so dread the day(s).

    I feel for you and feel saddend by this. This is life and it happen’s but it’s something that we all wish was easier to handle.

    my thoughts.


  3. I haven’t really experience a big loss in my ‘concious’ life. I lost my grandad when I was four or something but I was too young to feel remorse.

    So, I’m no expert.

    Would you go to her bedside if she called for you?

    Anyway best of luck, and I hope you make the right decision.


  4. One of the greatest fears for any elderly person is the fear that their life has become and/or was meaningless. I don’t think there is not a day that goes by when an old man or woman seeks to feel wanted or needed. As the ability to operate the body comes and goes by nature, they realize they cannot do the things they want, and sometimes need, to do. They realize they can’t go back; they can’t talk to old friends for they have passed on. Yet during all of this, they realize as they are becoming more senile as the day goes on, their time is nearly over. Family should be there to comfort that realization, and if I were you, I’d go and visit to her. Not because she is “just dying” and “is a relative”, but just to listen to her. Hear what she has to say.


  5. Sorry to hear about your grandma. I recently lost my grandpa, and have lost two more before him. The important thing to do when losing a loved one is not to try to forget them. Remember not the loss, but instead the person before the loss, the one who you loved. The pain will hurt, but not remembering them will hurt more.


  6. I lost my grandmother on my mother’s side when I was about 12 or 13. It was a great loss. I had a much closer bond to my grandmother in England than to my grandmother in Germany, who lives only 20 minutes away from me and is still alive. Simply because my english grandmother was a very caring person. She had 7 children, and kept contact with ALL her grandchildren. She always knew how we were, what we were interested in and when we visited her she was always happy to see us. Unfortunately she got lymph cancer and died at 81, strong until the very end.

    We miss her a lot, but when we think back, it’s only happy memories that come to mind. When I think of my german grandmother now, I can only come up with negative memories.

    AzH, you should go see her with your mother. It may be the last time you see her. I think it would mean a lot to your mother as well if you accompanied her, but that’s just my opinion.

    Best wishes,

    C.J. Haidt


  7. I had a talk with my Mum about this yesterday and she understands where I am coming from. She doesn’t want her mother to suffer. I learned that she is suffering from demetia and sometimes doesn’t even know who she is, let alone where she is. She barely recognises her children.

    I also talked with Sarah about this until about 6 this morning, after she got over being pissed at me because I didn’t go to a BBQ yesterday. I know now that I won’t see her ever again, the woman I once knew. Some may think it is cold and incredibly heartless, but the woman I knew is already dead. What remains is a mere shadow of the strongest, most decent person I ever knew.


  8. Yeah I’d keep your last memories of her the ones when she was fully aware of you and fully healthy. Seeing someone on their deathbed that you haven’t seen for a long time will just replace all the good memories you have with ones of that person being sick and dying. Hope you find peace.


  9. The person you once knew and loved may be figuratively gone, but surely a person with dementia is suffering daily. The worst thing in life would have to be dying alone.


  10. The person you once knew and loved may be figuratively gone, but surely a person with dementia is suffering daily. The worst thing in life would have to be dying alone.

    I agree with “Bobby” that it is terrible to die alone, but in her state…I work at a hospital. I am a “patient care provider”. I am around sick and dying people all day. I’ve seen, been around, and worked with people who have(and had) dementia. It isn’t pretty. In a perfect world, it would be great if Devious could be with his Grandmother. But this is not a perfect world. If he tries to see her now, especially considering his state of mind, he might cause more harm to her than good. I am sorry, DT, that I seem to be amending my advice from before. I did not realize that she could have dementia. Once again, however, good luck to you.



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