Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monday Mournings: The Death of a Grandmother

I didn't have anyone to talk with today, so I'm going to interview myself about the only person I've known and loved who died.  

Who was the person that died?
My grandma Lola.  

How old were you at the time?

How old was the person?

Was it a sudden death or did you know it was going to happen?
It wasn't sudden like a car accident, but it felt sudden.  My mom took her to the doctor at the beginning of December, she was diagnosed with cancer, admitted to the hospital and on December 21 she died.

Did you and the person talk about their death? 
No.  Never.  Didn't get the opportunity.

Had you experienced any other deaths in your personal life before this person died?

Were people supportive of your grief or did they shy away when you were grieving?
My mom and I didn't really talk about it, even though grandma Lola had lived with us since I was seven.  It was a very strange time and I was in the throes of adolescent angst.  I didn't know how to process it.

Is there anything you wish you'd done differently with this person?
I wish I'd told her how much I appreciated her presence in my life.  I was kind of a pain. My grandma loved pork and we ate it ALL the time.  Even when we didn't eat pork, there was bacon grease in almost everything she cooked.  I complained a lot.  I wish I'd been nicer to her.

Was she buried or cremated?

Did you learn anything about the grieving process that you'd like to share?
Well, no, but now I know that it's important to talk to kids about death and not to "protect" them when people are dying.  I wasn't allowed to visit her at the hospital and I don't know why that was.  I wish I would have been able to say goodbye.  And to thank her for teaching me how to knit, make kick butt cookies and for helping me out with my paper route.

Last but not least, were any songs played at the memorial that were important to the person?  
Okay, here's the kicker.  I was fourteen but I can't for the life of me remember her memorial service.  All I remember is the three hour drive.  My family members started singing Beatles' songs to pass the time and I was so pissed off that I wanted to jump out of the car.  It did not seem like the proper way to mourn someone.  What did I know?


  1. Sorry that you didn't get to say goodbye to your grandma. Things were different then, and your mom probably didn't want you to see her in a hospital bed with tubes. I'm sure your grandma knew that you loved her, and realized that you were behaving like most moody 14 year-olds. Julie

  2. My father's mother died when I was 11 - although she lived about a 45 drive from us, we didn't' see her much - I think it was hard for the parents to get all of the kids out there - I think my dad saw her more than we did. SHe was hospitalized several times in her last five years - for strokes - but children were not allowed in the hospital at that time - visiting hours were imposed and no kids - I am glad things have changed in that respect. The toughest thing about her death was seeing my dad cry - and his tears were shed clearly with embarrassment and with every attempt to hide that emotion. I don't get it.
    My mother's father died when I was 18 - same thing - they lived about 45 minutes away (in the opposite direction from my father's side of the family) - we saw that side of the family more but , again, were not allowed to visit him in the hospital b/c we were children. and the tears shed at the rosary and Mass were clearly meant to be hidden.

    Both grandparents were buried in the Catholic tradition - Rosary, Funeral Mass, wake afterwards -- on my dad's side, I remember having so much fun at the wake - playing with cousins I seldom saw. My mother's side of the family was so much more stern and severe.

    and I agree with Julie above - your behavior sounds par for the course for a 14 year old - even if your grandmother didn't know that, you need to know it now.

    thanks for posting, as always--

  3. Thanks for sharing, Pamela. I was eleven when my grandmother died, and I remember it feeling sudden too, even though she was in her eighties. But when my mother died last year (in her eighties), it was so different for my children than it had been for me, because my mother had slowly faded away because of Alzheimer's. I know many people hate Alzheimer's, but I think it really helped my family in letting go. ...just my thoughts.

  4. I'm sorry about your grandmothers death Pamela. She sounded like a super person doing all those grandma things that a live-in grandma does.

    I think unfortunately sometimes as adults in protecting the ones we love from seeing the suffering of the dying or even our own suffering we may cause some unintended pain. I'm so sorry you didn't get to visit and say goodbye.

  5. I don't know why people shelter children from death. But at the same time, that is a strange time for a young person.
    I lost my grandfather at 15. We just stopped going there. And stopped talking about him too. Weird.

  6. Thanks everyone for the comments! Busy day yesterday.


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