More dead wood on the family tree

      7 Comments on More dead wood on the family tree

My grandmother is on her last legs.

She has been plagued with Alzheimers for over two years now; the last time I was visiting Memphis and saw her, she didn’t even know who I was. So, her mind has been pretty far gone for a while now. Now her body is finally catching up to that state. She has been fighting some sort of respiratory infection for a couple of weeks and was finally admitted to the hospital a couple of nights ago with dangerously low O2 levels.

My aunt has been firm that there will be no heroic life-saving measures. They are simply using morphine to make her as physically comfortable as possible. Her breathing continues to slow and her O2 continues to drop, and it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps even tonight.

If I thought my presence would mean anything to her at all, I would rush back in a minute. But as it is, I have zero motivation to see her “one last time”. I have a whole catalog of fabulous memories of my grandmother. I do not need to dilute those with new memories of how she is right now. I did my mourning two years ago when I saw her last.

The only remaining question is whether I will go back for a funeral. It won’t do her any good, nor me. But I suppose it would mean something to the remaining family members, and that’s probably reason enough. But ooof, I sure don’t have any enthusiasm for it.

7 thoughts on “More dead wood on the family tree

  1. thunderslug

    When my grandmother was losing us, she was in 1943; I had a ponytail and full beard. You can imagine the reaction.

    And it’s worth it for your family, for better for worse…you’ll be one of their touchstones of life,and take a lot from that.

    That’s why I went. For my grandfather, I went for the piper, and because I could hear him say: “It’s simple…body, ground…why are you doing this other shit?” But the piper skipped “Amazing Grace” for “Coming Home”. so I had to climb the hill (shrouded in fog) to thank him for not going full-cliche`.

  2. schmimi

    I’m so sorry.

    When my grandma died, I had the option of viewing her body, but I declined, because I wanted to remember her how she was when she was alive. So I understand where you’re coming from.

    I do think, though, that funerals are for the living and not the dead. I don’t envy you, though.

    And again, my condolences.

  3. rainblogger

    Having gone through a similar experience with my own grandmother, I can appreciate your perspective. I encourage you to attend the funeral if, for some reason, you think it will allow you some closure. But, if you feel strongly confident about that already, then your attendance would merely be something for others’ sakes. Either way, my thoughts are with you, browse.


  4. curiousangel

    That’s a hard place to be in. I lost one grandmother back in ’86, which was several years after she’d stopped recognizing anyone; my other grandmother is still alive, but hasn’t recognized my name in quite a while, either. Sometimes… being adopted is not such a hard thing, if you know what I mean.

    I must say that I don’t think a funeral is *entirely* for the family — I’ve found them sometimes useful in helping me adjust to the person’s absence. They’re still deeply painful, but I think the only way out is through. It can be a good way to exchange stories of the deceased, and to make a solemn occasion of revisiting the memories. It differs for everyone, though, and what helps at one time for one person may not be a good thing for someone else.

    I’ll be thinking of you, though.

  5. thatsassylassie

    I’m sorry to hear about this, and for you and your family. Since I see a couple patients like this daily (not usually from Alzheimer’s) but in the “comfort care”/hospice stage, I honestly say that I think its a blessing to make peace with letting go. We recently had a family that wanted their father to be a full code: feeding tube, intubated, anything to keep him alive, even if he was lifeless in every other way. Makes me so sad, and really doesn’t make things peaceful for anyone else involved, IMO.

    I wish for you and your family the best possible of outcomes, whatever that may be.

  6. abrichar

    It’s hard. I will say I’ve found funerals to be nice for the storytelling aspect – I learned things about my grandparents I might have otherwise missed. I’m with you, though; for the most part, my attendance was in support of others. That being said, I’ve found that funerals with viewings overtook my memory of my grandma and my papa; I would have preferred to have not seen their bodies and simply held my memories of them in life.

    Thinking about you, sweetie.

  7. ororo

    I had a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and the first thing I felt when she died was, “Oh, thank god.” That’s not a place anyone should be in.

    If you like the rest of your family, go to the funeral. Not because it’s expected, but because you can be there with people you care about who are hurting


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