Grief is a weird thing. Adding to the complicated web of emotions that usually coincide with it, it is an especially complicated thing to deal with since everyone grieves differently. I wish I could put up an away message circa 2003 instant messenger for life. Basically just a BRB but with some angsty lyrics from a pop-punk band (which is still some of my favorite music to date. I have no shame).
My grandmother’s health has been declining for the past 3 months or so (and is one of the biggest reasons I have started going to therapy in the first place). She went from being independent, to having daily check-ins with her nurse, to now needing 24/7 care. The past 24-48 hours, in particular, have been the worst. We know she doesn’t have much time left here with us, which is very hard, but she is at peace and she is ready. Before she got to this current state, she would tell us stories from growing up or memories from trips she took. My entire family is so very lucky to have had her in our lives and we take comfort in knowing she isn’t scared of whatever her next journey has in store.
So how have I handled this incredibly emotional time? I haven’t. I have had times where I cry and get angry and upset, but those times are greatly outnumbered by the times I did absolutely nothing to prepare myself for the inevitable loss I have to face. Until now, I never truly understood the amount of guilt that comes along with grief.
If there was an award for Putting the Most Pressure on Oneself on a Daily Basis, there is a very good chance I would take home 1st place. And probably 2nd and 3rd, depending on what is going on in my life during the judging. Up to this point there have been a few times where we thought it was my grandmother’s time. Luckily, she pulled through. She toughed it out long enough to meet her newest great-granddaughter, Laura Jean, who was named after her. She enjoyed performances her oldest great-granddaughter, Lily. She met her great-granddaughter Charlotte, who lives a few hours away in Alabama, and was able to soak up all of the snuggles. All of these amazing things were just more memories for her to add to her memory bank. A few weeks ago when Taylor and I went to go visit, she gave us her recipe box because she knows we both enjoy cooking. We spent time talking about the recipes and looking through them. We all bonded over our love of tomato soup and she helped us find the recipe card in her box. As we were leaving we said excited to make a batch of the tomato soup since the weather was cooling off, planned to make some the upcoming Sunday, and told her we would bring her some.
I got a call from Taylor while I was at work yesterday saying we should go see her. I asked him how it was looking and he said she had gotten worse. She was in pain and it was making her sick. I left work to go home and meet Taylor so we could make the trip together and when we got to the facility she was groggy from the pain medicine but knew we were there. It was very hard to see because even throughout the last few months and weeks as she was getting weaker she still seemed like herself. Yesterday I could tell it wouldn’t be much longer. We spent time with her, told her how much we loved her and she told us the same. I held her hand while she dozed in and out of sleep from the medication. And I cried. I guilted myself for not spending more time with her, for not going by and seeing her more. I cried because I felt guilty for all of the times I had gone out to a brewery with my friends or had a lazy Saturday at home instead of making the 30 minute drive to go see her. And then I sobbed when I remembered the soup. I didn’t make the tomato soup and I didn’t bring her any after I told her I would. That one seemingly small thing that I am almost certain she didn’t remember was the final straw. It made me realize that I have spent the better part of the last 3+ months not letting myself grieve the inevitable loss of someone so incredibly important to me because I would feel overwhelming guilt for grieving the loss of someone I still had in my life while simultaneously guilting myself any time I did something fun or relaxing because it was time I could have spent with her. I cried the entire way home. I cried in the drive-thru as we were grabbing something to eat so we didn’t have to cook because it was late. I cried texting my mom about that damn soup. I likely spent a combined 4-5 hours crying yesterday evening and I feel confident in saying that almost half of that time I was crying about tomato soup (a first for me, which is surprising seeing as how much I enjoy it).
It’s not easy trying to put on a brave face and go about your normal routine when you know someone you love so, so much doesn’t have much time left. My chest felt heavy as I forced myself out of bed to get ready for work this morning. I cried after putting my makeup on. I cried in the car on the way to the office. I cried at my desk. I’m crying as I type this out. But my biggest supporters through all of this have reminded me of the most important thing when it comes to dealing with loss. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t make the tomato soup. It doesn’t matter that I spent time with my friends or being lazy on the couch instead of going up to Acworth. I have memories eating my grandmother’s tomato soup. I have the recipe for the soup. I have so many incredible memories from all of my 28 years involving my grandmother and, although it is incredibly hard since I am the Queen of Self Inflicted, Unwarranted Guilt, I can’t let the idea of not making a pot of tomato soup prevent me from grieving the loss of someone who I love so much. It is ok to grieve while still going through the daily routine. It is something I am trying to remind myself of.
So if anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation, remember the tomato soup. The memories I have from spending time with my grandmother and eating her tomato soup are so much more important than spending my time guilting myself for not making some to take to her, especially considering she likely has no recollection of the conversation in the first place.
As I wrap this incredibly emotional post up (there are wayyy too many feels going on for me right now and we all know how much I hate having feels), please keep my grandmother and my family in your thoughts. She is so very loved and while we know that she is ready for the next chapter, there’s no way for any of us to be.