Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have

Grandmother is Dying

22 Comments

Mother

Mother (Photo credit: Masashi Mochida) Likely a better mother than the ones in my family!

My maternal grandmother took a stroke on the weekend and can’t swallow so is waiting to die from lack of food/drink. She’s got dementia and is in her mid 80s so she has had a long life. She was a terrible mother to her children because she shouldn’t have had kids in the first place as she didn’t like them. But her pedophile husband wanted kids and things went downhill from there. Anyhow, my grandmother brutalized my mother and never supported her when she told her about her father sexually abusing her. Instead the grandmother told my mother to leave home (mom was 17 or 18 then). Β Mom always told me when I was growing up about how horrible her mother was to her so I never developed loving feelings toward my maternal grandmother. Now grandmother is dying and I feel completely indifferent.

When I found out on Sunday that my grandmother was dying I felt the same indifference. No emotion. Just an acceptance of the fact. Does this mean I am a bad person for having no emotional reaction to the news my grandmother is going to die shortly? If I am totally honest then I must admit I felt relief then worry should there be a funeral where I’ll have to see other family there I never have contact with-or very little anyway. This concern about the funeral possibility ruined my relief over my grandmother dying. Yes, I know that sounds dreadful but it’s a complicated situation.

So what is the proper response to a relative dying you’ve never felt love for? Should I try to “act” a certain way? Or, is it better to simply be honest and not fake what I don’t feel? Either way you see it I can be nothing else but honest because I am sick of false pretenses and facades. My mother’s side of the family is the master of facades and false pretenses which is why I want to deviate from that and be honest! To hell with what they think of me. If they want to see me cry sad tears over my grandmother they’ll be waiting a long time. I cried when my mom died but they weren’t tears of sadness; they were tears of anger, grief and regret. But they never knew that. They still think I miss my mother but it’s been 5 years this month since her death and I never missed her. I only ever felt grief because our relationship had been such a disaster.

Now my grandmother’s lying in a nursing home dying and all I can think about is the phony shit I’ll have to deal with on my mom’s side of the family. They’ll likely not mention the abuse any of us suffered or the negative times that outnumbered the positive. No, that would be too much like authenticity and my mother’s family doesn’t do that. The most authenticity you get is from the ones who won’t come to the funeral (if there’s one) because they still feel bitter from the abuse they suffered as children. The rest act like nothing happened or if something did happen it’s in the past so don’t bring it up.

I’m not able to forget my childhood or whitewash it like my aunts have. Their father was a pedophile but they never talk about it. Maybe that’s normal but I figure it just adds to the shame if you keep it secret or talk only in hushed tones about it.None of that feels very validating to me and I’m not even the one who grew up with the pedophile father and physically/emotionally abusive mother. My own mother sexually abused me but I don’t think she was a pedophile but that is not an argument I want to have today.

Guess I’ll have to wait ’til she dies so I can find out how the rest of the family reacts.

Β©Natalya, 2013.

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Author: Natalya

Blogging my thoughts and feelings about mostly mental health, meditation and spirituality(non religious). Hoping to connect with other interesting people in the blogosphere. *The name is Russian and is my pseudonym.

22 thoughts on “Grandmother is Dying

  1. Oh man that’s some seriously heavy stuff you really doing okay? 😦 sending happy thoughts and much love to you
    Sincerely
    Benjamin

  2. Oh boy. Is it possible that you could just skip the funeral altogether, or would that cause even more drama? I think I might, if I were you.

    I just got back from a weeklong trip lining up all of my dad’s funeral and estate arrangements (although he’s still okay at the moment). We are omitting having a funeral entirely, since he just doesn’t want one.

    • It’s possible but I think it would cause more drama. I’m hoping there won’t be a funeral as the grandmother didn’t want to have anything to do with where she ended up living. She’s not even going to be buried in Canada because she isn’t from here so there likely won’t be a funeral.

      I’m sorry about your dad. It’s good he is getting his things in order now while he still has the ability.

  3. Natalya, I’m sorry for what you’re going through & what you’ll have to face when your grandmother dies. My mom was abused by her father. He died when she was young. But, I’ve always felt great disdain for the man, the monster. It’s so sad how abuse travels through generations one after another. This fact makes me thankful I have no children.

    My mom’s siblings never really talked about their childhood -the bad stuff- until after my grandmother died a few years ago. They had funny stories about childhood shenanigans and about being poor. My mom told me about the abuse. But it wasn’t a topic of conversation at family gatherings.

    I think partly that is a generational thing. Our parents and grandparents lived during a time when things were kept quiet. No one spoke of domestic violence or sexual abuse! There were no television talk shows. There were no Internet support groups. They may have kept a journal, but who was there to read and offer support and encouragement to talk more. I’m not trying to make excuses for your family members or mine… just something to think about.

    Though even now in my own family, I don’t talk to my sister about the yelling that took place in our home. I don’t talk to her about my mom calling me fat and her lazy. We barely talk at all. It took me four years before I began to be able to talk to my own therapist about what I still struggle to call abuse! Sometimes not talking and not confronting the past is more about not knowing how or being afraid of the consequences.

    You don’t have to grieve a grandmother for whom you felt little. But, you can grieve the grandmother life cheated you. What happened to her? What was wrong with her? A mentally, emotionally, physically healthy woman does not marry a man and allow him to rape her girls. Certainly she made choices and needs to be held accountable. But who was your grandmother when she was a four-year-old child or twelve-year-old girl? She is about to lose any chance of ever living even the tiniest glimpse of a life free from the pain she endured and caused. You and I have time still to heal. Her time is over.

    It’s not about feeling sorry or grief for your grandmother -the person she was when she raised your mom or in later years. It’s maybe about grieving, in general, for a life that never existed. Who could she have been? What beautiful, wonderful, kind, inspiring things could she have done? What sort of grandmother might she have been to you?

    I hope I haven’t said anything upsetting. My hope is just to give you something to think about that might help get you through dealing with your family!! I think most important is for you to focus on yourself. Do whatever feels right and most emotionally healthy for you.

    Take care. And I’m truly sorry.
    rl

    • You made a lot of valid points I will have to consider now! Thanks for making me think. I appreciate your insights and personal experience. Thank you. I think that I never really thought about forgiving my maternal grandparents before. There were always other things to resolve but I might try to forgive them.

      Thanks again for your insights.

  4. What a complicated and difficult situation. I hope that the time is as easy as possible for you.

  5. I don’t envy your situation Natalya – it’s a can of worms whichever way you look at it and I am so sorry for everything you’ve had to go through. It’s not really my place to offer advice, but then that’s what friends who care do…. for what it’s worth I think you should honour your own feelings and stay away from a funeral you don’t want to go to.If the family comment then I’m assuming you have no contact with them so it doesn’t matter?
    I may sound hard. I may be out of line, but I refuse to be a hypocrite after all I’ve seen and ‘done’. I truly wish you some peace.
    Blessings, Susan x

  6. Sending positive thoughts to you! Although it wasn’t as complicated as your situation, I was also extremely confused when both my great grandmothers passed away…and I wasn’t that upset. I had no bad feelings towards them…but I didn’t really connect with either of them in the way I do with the rest of my family. I was so confused and I wasn’t sure if I was to act upset or tell the truth (exactly like you) it’s a difficult thing :/
    Hope you’re okay! πŸ™‚ drop me a line any time if you want to chat πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for sharing! I appreciate knowing you didn’t feel attached to your great grandmothers. Likely an age gap thing maybe?…

      • You’re welcome! πŸ™‚ I thought I was the only one at the time :/
        I think it is…and not really connecting with the person…

      • No, there are likely more but it’s hard to admit you don’t feel attached to some of your family.

        Yes, personality differences play a role too along with age. You’re right there. Connecting isn’t as easy if we have different values too.

      • Very hard. Makes you feel ashamed of how you feel if everyone else is grieving .
        Yeah, I definitely agree with you.

      • True, there’s a lot of pressure to appear sad when a relative dies but sometimes the feelings just aren’t there. Better to be genuine and have people think what they like. We alone know how we’re feeling. Other people will always make judgements so I figure it’s best to be true to yourself. It’s not necessarily easier to be authentic but it is worth it (IMO).

      • Yup, ended up deciding to just act how I felt. I was not upset, I didn’t bring it up in conversation and I didn’t dwell on it. Good advice πŸ™‚ always worth being yourself πŸ™‚

  7. It may be the hardest thing you will ever do. What will matter most in your life is forgiveness! Forgive your grandmother on her deathbed for all the pain she has caused you. Forgive your mother for her terrible ways. Forgive yourself. Be at peace. Great happiness will follow!

  8. Pingback: Grandmother Died Today | Reflections on Life Thus Far

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