The Cycle of Life

My heart is heavy today.

I obviously understand the basic concept of the cycle of life and family, but I have to say, it’s really hard to watch as the end gets near. Your parents raise you so that one day, among other reasons, you can take care of them. I am witnessing this happening with my mom’s mom right now, and I am far from the best in dealing with these situations.

About five years ago, my grandfather died pretty suddenly. He was 84 and in great health besides having lost his vision, and he took an unexpected fall at a casino one night. He lived for just three more weeks and was never the same after that fall.

My grandma and grandpa were married for 64 years before he died… sixty-four! It’s crazy to even think about how long that is. When he died, my grandma lost her companion, her soul mate, the person she talked to constantly every day for 64 years. I think deep down she was hoping she could just go with him so that she didn’t have to face life alone after he passed.

Her health has remained pretty good over the last couple years despite having emphysema and needing oxygen. She’s been “with it” until the last few weeks even though she’s 89. Back over the summer, she was having really bad pain in her leg and when she got it checked out, the doctors discovered that she had cancer. It would have almost been better if they hadn’t found it, because she didn’t want any treatment and the diagnosis just put a grave shadow over everything.

Despite the diagnosis, her health remained what seemed fine until the last few weeks. Since Christmas, she has been declining rapidly, and she was placed on hospice over this past weekend. I went up for the day to see her yesterday, and I could not believe the drastic change since the last time I saw her, which was just about 6 weeks ago for Thanksgiving.

She could barely speak, had little to no color in her face, swollen hands and arms, and was just miserable and crying out in pain. It is so devastating to see her like this, and I mean obviously I’m sad that my grandma is dying, but she is 89, has lived a good life, and honestly wants to die at this point so while it is sad, it happens.

What gets me the most is thinking about the fact that it’s my mom’s MOM. Her MOTHER. I can’t even let my mind venture to the idea that one day my mom could be in a similar situation. I also know that my mom is lucky to be 61 and still have her mother, but having to watch her body fall apart just tears my heart out.

43 Comments on The Cycle of Life

  1. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    January 12, 2012 at 9:42 am (8 years ago)

    Oh, Beth. My heart is heavy for you reading this. That is amazing that your grandparents were married for 64 years- I can’t imagine! And I also can’t imagine losing someone after that long. I’m sure your grandmother misses him so much.
    I feel for you- I was extremely close with my grandmother and lost her almost 6 years ago. I still think about her every single day and miss her terribly- but am so thankful for the years that I had with her and all of the memories that came from that.
    I would give you a big hug if I could- love and warm thoughts to your family.

    Reply
  2. Molly
    January 12, 2012 at 9:48 am (8 years ago)

    I’m sorry about your grandmother. :/ I am so close to my grandparents and can’t even imagine what that will be like when I experience it myself. My thoughts and prayers goes out to you during this tough time.

    Reply
  3. Katy Widrick
    January 12, 2012 at 9:59 am (8 years ago)

    I am so, so sorry. We lost my grandmother last year and since then, my grandfather — who just turned 98! — has been on a steep decline. So sad to watch it happen and realize that someday, I’ll be saying goodbye to my own parents.

    My thoughts are with your family.

    Reply
  4. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    January 12, 2012 at 10:01 am (8 years ago)

    Beth, I’m so sorry knowing that this is what you’re going through. I’m actually in a similar situation with my mom’s mother. She’s only 82 but suffers from a condition where she has basically been rendered mute and can’t move or do anything on her own anymore. She’s been this way for several years, and it is a huge emotional, physical, and financial toll on my mom and her siblings to care for her. An added issue is that she doesn’t speak English, so that in combination with the way that Chinese culture views caring for your parents, they won’t consider putting her in an assisted care facility. It’s so hard, because as much as you love them (especially when thinking that she is to my mom what my mom is to me, as you said), eventually it comes to a point where you honestly feel like it’s just… time. And as it gets further and further prolonged it just causes more pain, for all the parties involved.

    Reply
  5. Mindy
    January 12, 2012 at 10:03 am (8 years ago)

    I teared up reading this! I am SO sorry about your grandmother! My thoughts and prayers go out to her and your family!

    Reply
  6. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
    January 12, 2012 at 10:08 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry to read this, Beth. We’re going through something pretty similar with my grandpa right now. He’s 90 and was in amazing health until about 5 years ago. Actually, he was still publishing academic research 5 years ago – at 85 years old! He started to get a little forgetful at first and then within a year he had no idea what was going on or who anyone was. It was so freaking heart breaking because for my whole life I’d associated my grandpa with smarts and suddenly his brain just wasn’t his anymore. On one hand, we’ve been really lucky because he does remember my grandmother and that he loves her. And he knows he loves his family but he just doesn’t know who we are. He’d been in pretty good health otherwise but I went up to see him last weekend and he couldn’t walk on his own or really talk anymore. It was awful and I couldn’t imagine how my mom could handle it. I started thinking about one day having to see my dad like that and I actually started getting nauseous.
    I hope your grandma isn’t in much pain for much longer.

    Reply
  7. Liz
    January 12, 2012 at 10:18 am (8 years ago)

    I’m sorry about your grandmother. I’ll keep your family in my thoughts.

    Reply
  8. Jennifer
    January 12, 2012 at 10:22 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry to hear this about your grandmother. I hope she finds peace and comfort soon.

    We lost my dad when he was only 49 and it was devastating (he died of a massive heart attack, which was somewhat shocking as he was in pretty good health). On one hand, it was good for him not to have to suffer through a horrible illness, but on the other, we never got to say goodbye. I’ve never had to watch a loved one go through that kind of illness, so I don’t know which is the worse situation.

    Anyway, you and your family, and especially your grandmother, will be in my thoughts.

    Reply
  9. Gwen
    January 12, 2012 at 10:22 am (8 years ago)

    Thinking of you and your family, Beth. xoxo

    Reply
  10. Allison
    January 12, 2012 at 10:25 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry that you have to go through this and see someone you love suffer. One of my closest friends lost her mom to cancer a couple of days before Christmas and it made me start thinking about how hard it would be to lose someone you love. I am fortunate that I’ve never had to experience a significant loss in my life yet [two of my grandparents passed away before I was born and the other two before I was two-years-old] but I sometimes think about it and wondering how I’d cope with such a loss… I think it is possible of dying because of a broken heart.

    Sending many warm wishes and postive thoughts to you and your family…

    Reply
  11. Amanda @ Running On Waffles
    January 12, 2012 at 10:34 am (8 years ago)

    Beth, I’m really sorry to read this. I know it’s incredibly hard to see such a startling change in someone you care so much about. I will keep you and your family in my prayers, and hope that the pain your grandmother is in improves.

    Reply
  12. Joanna
    January 12, 2012 at 10:42 am (8 years ago)

    So so sorry you’re going through this Beth. My heart goes out to you and your whole family, and I will say a prayer for you all.

    Reply
  13. Megan
    January 12, 2012 at 10:47 am (8 years ago)

    I am so sorry Beth, my heart goes out to you and your momma. I am thinking about you and will say a little prayer for comfort in these hard times!

    Reply
  14. Jess
    January 12, 2012 at 10:57 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry Beth, it is so, so hard. We went through hospice with my grandpa two years ago when he passed away and was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  15. Kerilyn
    January 12, 2012 at 10:58 am (8 years ago)

    Hey lady – I know that you know that there is MUCH more to this life than what meets the eye. I just know it. It’s absolutely natural to feel sad. Change is not easy. Transition is not something we know how to “do” as humans. Go easy on yourself. Let the tears flow… it’s ALL going to be alright.

    “The body is the garage in which we house our soul.” – Unknown

    Reply
  16. Lisa Fine
    January 12, 2012 at 11:02 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry, Beth. It is so hard to watch people age and grow sick and watching the family around them deal with it.

    My granddad passed away over the summer, and one of the hardest things was seeing how frustrated he was with his failed health. Watching and feeling hopeless is so sad.

    I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

    Reply
  17. Sheri
    January 12, 2012 at 11:08 am (8 years ago)

    I completely understand how you feel. My grandmother was 91 and passed away almost a year ago. She was always in pretty good health, but I could tell that she just didn’t ever feel the same after my grandfather passed away about 7 years ago. I do look at my dad and feel bad that his mom is gone. I totally get it.

    Reply
  18. Heather
    January 12, 2012 at 11:20 am (8 years ago)

    So sorry about your grandma 🙁

    Reply
  19. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    January 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry about your grandma. It is a horrible disease and one many of us can relate to. Just try to remember her at her healthiest and happiest. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

    Reply
  20. Sarah
    January 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm (8 years ago)

    I am so sorry about your grandmother. I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  21. Jenny T
    January 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm (8 years ago)

    Loss is hard, and it NEVER seems fair. On September 11, 2010 my father was out for a bike ride (he had been on a mission since Jan. to lose weight and become heart healthy…losing 52lbs! @ the age of 47!)….

    He was riding with his bike team, and passed each of them with a smile on his face while riding on a beautiful stretch of lake road. And suddenly, he was down no the ground. No arm to brace himself, a scarce pulse. Some of the team members attempted CPR, but it didn’t work. Gone. As quickly and swiftly, and unexpectedly, as any of us could ever know. He was a heavier set, muscular, industrious man who had learned to count out his cheez-its instead of eating a whole box, to eat a banana every morning, and had started introducing salmon to his diet.

    I grieve him each and every day, and while the days have become happier, I can understand your pain. I wish you well and even though your heart is heavy at the moment, be assured that the timing, whether we agree with it or not…is what is in the cards. That is the ONLY reasonable thing I can agree to when I look at losing my dad, who will never walk me down the aisle or hold his grandchildren. But I live in his memory, for his memory, and his spirit is with me always.

    Reply
    • Beth
      January 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm (8 years ago)

      Wow Jenny. I am so sorry for your loss! How devastating that he had finally taken the reigns to get his life on track and that happened. 🙁

      Reply
  22. Barb
    January 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm (8 years ago)

    Beth, I am so sorry to hear about this. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. It’s tough, I know.

    Sorry 🙁

    Reply
  23. Liz
    January 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm (8 years ago)

    Beth, I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m going through something with my mom’s mother as well and I think it’s almost harder to watch it happening to my mom. My grandmother is handling it with such grace and courage – she’s lived a long, good life, and has a remarkable confidence in what happens after death that she seems to be the strong one in all of this. But I can’t imagine what my mom is feeling, and your last paragraph really sums up how I’m feeling right now.

    Reply
  24. Hannah (Hannah Lives)
    January 12, 2012 at 2:52 pm (8 years ago)

    My thoughts are with you and your family, Beth. It is an incredibly hard thing to watch, and feel and I can’t pretend to understand what you and your family are going through, but I can imagine that no matter what kind of full life someone lead, it isn’t easy to say goodbye. Stay strong, and know that we are all here for you when you need us!

    Reply
  25. Hilary
    January 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm (8 years ago)

    So sorry to hear this. My own grandmother has advanced Alzheimer’s right now and it’s pretty tough to watch.

    Reply
  26. cristina
    January 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm (8 years ago)

    Beth, what a sad post. 🙁 my mom is 63 and still has her mom, and I feel so lucky to have both of them. My thoughts are with you and your family as you go through this tough time.

    Reply
  27. Monica
    January 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm (8 years ago)

    How sad, I am so sorry Beth. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

    Reply
  28. Dana
    January 12, 2012 at 8:03 pm (8 years ago)

    Oh Beth! I remember your grandma from our Southbury days. I met her a couple times when she was visiting. I’m so sorry to hear about what she’s dealing with. I will keep all of you in my prayers.

    Reply
  29. Harold Tracy
    January 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm (8 years ago)

    Sorry to hear about this. Thank you for posting though. I lost my uncle in March at 57. He was healthier than most everyone else but cancer got em and he was gone inside of two weeks! It was crazy to think that he was my mom’s brother and that one of seven in her family is now gone!

    I hope you find comfort in your blogging and running!

    Reply
  30. kristin b.
    January 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm (8 years ago)

    My 96yr old grandmother passed away this past november and that was the first person close to me to ever die. It was the sadest most emotionally exhausting thing I had ever been through. I gained like 15 pounds due to it because I was stuffing my face from stress and emotional eating. But I’m trying this cleanse with my friends at work called the 24-day challenge. I need something to get me off my butt and loose some of this mass for the new years lol. I have really high hopes for it and I’ve heard nothing but good things from others who have tried it. I guess you can find it at http://www.letadvocarebetteryou.com I bought one today. It’ll be at the bottom of the page under, My bundles. Good luck in all your healthy journeys!

    Reply
  31. Kimberly Brown
    January 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm (8 years ago)

    Hey,

    I can’t even begin to say how sorry I am for your loss. I lost my mamaw not too long ago. her and my papaw were together for 65 years, and he sat by her bedside for three weeks straight sleeping in an uncomfortable recliner eating hospital food and holding her hand the whole time. It was the hardest thing to watch. A once strong, independent, hardworking woman who raised four children and took care of her husband just shrink away. It brings me to a sobbing mess just thinking about it. Now my papaw just sits at home and mutters to himself, “poor ole mamaw” and i swallow my urge to burst out crying and say. “she’s still here with us papaw, she’s watching over you every second of the day.” So let me just say I totally feel your pain and know that you are not alone… God bless girl!

    Reply
  32. Brittany
    January 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm (8 years ago)

    Beth, I’m so sorry for what your family is going through. I know exactly how it feels, sadly. I recently watched a similar thing happen to both my grandpa and my best friends grandma who treated me like her own. It is horrible to watch someone you love suffer. Take care and try and remember the good times.

    Reply
  33. Laura
    January 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm (8 years ago)

    My heart aches for you. I know that feeling – When my grandfather died (after suffering from Parkinson’s) my father called and said, “my dad passed away.” My first thought was that my dad lost HIS dad… His daddy was gone. It broke my heart to think of my dad as a child who had just lost a parent.

    Wishing your family the best. <3 Watching a loved one decline has got to be one of the worst things, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. It sounds like your grandmother has lived a long, full life, and for that we can be grateful.

    Reply
  34. Diandra
    January 13, 2012 at 3:57 am (8 years ago)

    I am sorry your family is in this tough situation, and I hope everything turns out for the best. A few years ago, my grandmother had what I would cal lthe “perfect death” – at the age of 92, she had almost all her children over for Sunday coffee, went into the kitchen to make coffee, fell and died. Just like that. No pain, just gone. I hope I may live to be as old and as wise as she was, in the same good condition (and with the same beautiful white hair) and die just like that.

    Reply
  35. Ellen
    January 13, 2012 at 7:15 am (8 years ago)

    Deepest blessings to you and all your family, Beth, and holding your grandmother in light.

    Reply
  36. Mavis
    January 13, 2012 at 9:23 am (8 years ago)

    My heart’s with you, Beth!

    Reply
  37. Colleen
    January 13, 2012 at 11:37 am (8 years ago)

    Beth, I’m praying for you and your family. I wish you strength and peace.

    Reply
  38. robin
    January 15, 2012 at 10:25 am (8 years ago)

    As someone who works in an intensive care unit, I can say it never is easy watching a person pass. It is always a blessing though when they have family to help them along with this final stage. I have seen families sing to the person and even play instruments to soothe them. I am always touched, what a way to leave this world.

    Reply
  39. Ang
    January 16, 2012 at 2:27 pm (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother! I hate that she is in so much pain! Your family is in my prayers!

    Reply
  40. Anne P
    January 18, 2012 at 8:14 am (8 years ago)

    Thinking of you. Beautiful and well written post – I completely agree. I have one grandmother left and it breaks my heart to think about her not being around much longer.

    Reply
  41. Caitlin
    January 18, 2012 at 11:29 am (8 years ago)

    So sorry to read this Beth – thinking of you and your family.

    Reply
  42. joyce
    January 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm (8 years ago)

    I just started reading your blog.. Its great!! Sorry to hear about your grandma…be supportive of your mom and be strong. My Dad died last winter with COPD oxygyen and then hospice. keep your spirits up..I will continue reading your blogs..:)

    Reply

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