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Struggling to Cope with Grandma's Sudden Illness


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I'm a 28-year old granddaughter unable to travel to see my grandmother in what seem like the last moments of her life.

My grandma is a 83-year old person who was on her feet until 10 days ago when she had to be rushed to the hospital. She complained of stomach pain and breathlessness. She was diagnosed with gall bladder stones, which caused other complications. Although she has undergone surgery two days ago, her condition remains critical. During surgery, the doctors discovered that her liver is severely damaged. If she were younger, they'd recommend a transplant. This does not sound good at all. It does not give me much hope for her recovery.

I'm also terribly sorry for the physical and emotional trauma that she might be going through right now. My grandma is terrified of doctors and hospitals and this is also the first time that she's faced a such a health emergency. I wish I could be by her side. I wish I could travel to see her but I am afraid that I'd be putting her and the rest of my family at risk of COVID-19 if I were to travel.

My grandma and I have also shared a bitter-sweet relationship. This is in fact the case with everyone in the family.  So for the last week or so, I've also been working through a lot of difficult feelings. I wish I could take back some of the things I've said to her but that in itself is a lesson. I realise now why my mum always told me that words once spoken cannot be taken back. And, that I would like to forgive myself and her for not knowing better. The last one week brought back a lot of fond memories of her too -- of us watering plants together,  of us hanging out with grandfather when he was around, of her cooking for me, of us laughing and goofing around together, of her telling me her life stories in vivid details. I can hear her laughter, her voice.

I am extremely sad though that she is going through this and that I can't go meet her. I'm afraid that I'll never get a chance to say goodbye to her. I'm sad that I may never get to see her again. Thinking of her death also makes me feel guilty. Because shouldn't I be hopeful? But hope is hard to hold on to given the extent of her liver damage.

I'm grateful to the folks to who run and make this community. It means a lot to me to have found this forum at this time in my life.

Edited by Pitti
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I'm so sorry to learn of your grandmother's sudden illness, and sorry too that you're struggling with guilt over "words once spoken that cannot be taken back." I invite you to read Grief and The Burden of Guilt

Might you consider alternative ways that you could convey what you feel a need to say to your grandmother? Perhaps by writing a letter to her? You may not know whether she'll be able to read it herself or even if it reaches her in time, but that's not really the point of the exercise. Even if such a letter cannot be delivered to your grandmother in time for her to read (or even listen to) your words, the point is to get those words out of your head and your mind and outwardly expressed in a tangible way, on a piece of paper or onto a computer screen. Once the letter is written, you might try constructing a personally meaningful ritual around it, whereby you communicate its content to your grandmother, by reading it aloud and "sending" it to her spirit in a symbolic way. You'll find ideas for using rituals here: Grief Rituals Can Help on Special Days ❤️

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On 1/19/2021 at 8:33 AM, Pitti said:

I realise now why my mum always told me that words once spoken cannot be taken back.

That actually  is in the Bible so it's an age old adage that bears some wisdom.  We don't know what we don't know until we do, and the best we can do is yes, forgive ourselves and others, and take with it the positive learned so it can cease to be merely a regret but becomes a positive going forward.

I am so sorry for all your grandma, and thus you, are going through.  I've never known a harder time to go through something like this than right now.  My heart goes out to you both.  Did they say what her liver problem was?  If it was Cirrhosis, you'd have to realize the cause.  Half of Americans have it and most of it is caused from fatty liver, although excessive alcohol or parasites or Rxs can also cause it.  If it is fatty liver, it can be reversed through diet...I have mine and it can happen in a relatively short time.  I would try to learn more from her about the nature of her liver disease.

I did find this article and hope it is of help to you:  https://healthmatters.nyp.org/how-to-cope-with-grief-amid-covid-19/

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