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Grandmother is dying

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Hello.  My grandmother has terminal lung cancer.  My mother has been caring for her for off and on for the past year and has been her primary caregiver for the past seven months.  The end seems to be drawing near.  I am wondering how to help my family, esp my mother, after my grandmother dies.  What is the best way to handle the holidays if my grandmother dies before then?  :unsure2::unsure:


As a paramedic, I have encoutered death often.  I understand the process and the stages of grief the loved ones feel afterwards.  I have just not experienced it very much in my personal life.  Any advice or input would be appreciated.  Thanks.

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Hi Medic201093,


I'm sorry no one has answered for the majority of the month, sometimes the spam leads us astray.


As you know, it's very different for each person.  Besides the pain of loss, it may be that your mother might feel guilt that she feels some relief that her mother passes after such a long bought of caretaking.  And yet, she may not feel that.  It is best to always just be open to whatever she may be feeling.  With my own family, I found it really important not to be afraid to bring up the person we lost and what their opinion was about whatever we were doing or talking about.  This made us be able to have moments of communion and make a space available for anyone who wanted to share more about how they were handling the moment.


I also found it very important to have someone in my life who wasn't experiencing the same loss.  Someone to whom my grief and my loss for that person was the only one that they knew.  It validated my relationship and my pain because I didn't have to worry about whether they were having a different kind of pain (for the same loss).


All in all, I have only known: help them understand whatever they are feeling is right and whatever it is, is important.  I truly believe, having experienced it, that the only way to help ourselves is allow the fullness of our pain to exists without judgement.  To allow our feelings to slow down our brain or our brain to slow down our feelings, whichever one needs the help the most in the moment.  If our brain is reving up with questions or guilt, allow the love (that at first is experienced at pain) to slow that down to just feeling; or if the feelings are crazy and erratic, have the brain say soothing words inside to help slow down the craziness.  If you see any of that happening from either heart or head, just be a soothing force.


"Just be there" sounds like a platitude, but it is really the only thing anyone can do.  Be there in full acceptance.  Be a witness to whatever she's willing to share.  Be real. 


The other thing to know is that there are two parts - grieving and mourning.  Grieving happens and only the most significant act of will or the most traumatic self-preservation-shock can stop it.  Mourning is expressing grief externally and helps the grieving process immensely.  It may be telling a story and talking about your loved one or your relationship.  It may be writing words or music or even cooking.  Action taken outside of one's internal processing that allows the movement of the grief.  I would also suggest encouraging that movement when you see times where that would naturally come up.  Ask questions, even if it's uncomfortable to you.  Mention how you thought your grandmother might have like a certain activity and maybe do it together.


I hope this is of some help.  My last suggestion is to remember to allow yourself to feel what you need.  You will have a loss that may or may not be significant to you and it is also very difficult to see loved ones in pain.  Don't try to take either of your pain away.  Just be.


I wish you soft moments in the days ahead.



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