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Losing My Sister

Sunday will mark five years since my sister died. I had a hard time losing my sister to bone cancer. She fought for over three years with bone cancer that caused her daily pain and stress.

Her life ended when she’d had too many surgeries and her body couldn’t keep up. Losing my sister is the hardest thing I’ve experienced.

I don’t feel bad for her now, because she’s free from all of that. But I do miss her; more than I miss my grandparents who have passed away. Her death was a trauma for me, as her 27-year-old soul was ripped away from my family and we were left with a forever empty chair at the table.

Now, I have a daily regimen of seven medications that keep me here on this earth from antidepressants to mood stabilizers and sleep aids. I fight suicidal thoughts and feelings near-constantly during this time of the year.

I have two girls; the younger one is my lifeline. I was pregnant with her when my sister died and I live in fear that she will die and leave me just like my younger sister left my mom.

My faulty logic says that little sisters die; I am so afraid that I will lose her. Her presence is one of the biggest comforts to me, which makes me love her more than her sister.

losing my sister

There, I said it: I love one kid more than the other.

What can I say? What else is there to do but keep pushing on, trying to move past a pain that is so old and yet so fresh.

I love you, Wends, and I will see you one day.

The Christmas After Grandma Died

Three weeks ago my grandma fell and broke her neck.

Three weeks ago she was rushed to Peoria to see if they could fix her.

At 82 with severe Parkinson’s Disease, degenerative bone disease, (from which she’d lost a whole 12 inches off her height) dementia, and multiple other health problems, we didn’t know what the options were.

The surgeon suggested surgery to repair the fracture. He was hopeful that it would work. Do nothing and she could become a paraplegic if she so much as coughed too hard. Or she could live with the neck brace, which she hated, her lungs could fill up with fluid and she could develop pneumonia.

In such poor health, that’s not good.

We opted for surgery; really the only option. Grandma was scared but we all told her we loved her. I told her we would go dancing after she was done as she hasn’t walked in over two years.

She smiled and held our hands, said she loved us, and off she went.

Surgery went well and they were able to fix the break. That was not the major hurdle though. Even in good health, Grandma has never done well with anesthesia. Two days before her fall, the dentist didn’t even want to give her a local to fix a couple teeth as she’s allergic to Novocaine.

After surgery, she was put into a regular room and about an hour later, her vitals crashed.

She was gasping for breath. She looked so very scared. She gripped my hand as a wonderful nurse held the oxygen mask on her for close to an hour until they were able to get a bed ready in the Surgical ICU. Once she was settled in the ICU, we each took turns going to see Grandma.  She was on a ventilator to help her breathe and give the swelling a chance to go down after surgery.

This was against her wishes and she was miserable.

She had the vent in for 3 days until it was removed. She did so well.

They observed her for a day in the Surgical ICU (SICU), then transferred her down to another room for a few days.

When she was ready, she was discharged. They didn’t send her back to her assisted living apartment, but to a skilled nursing facility with hospice. Everyone came to visit. Friends, grandchildren, family, everyone. Someone was by her side 24/7. She would talk a little, barely a whisper. Grandma looked at pictures and had us to sing to her while we sat by her side. She told us that she saw my grandpa who’d passed away in 1978.

She told us all of the beautiful things she was seeing and hearing. It was amazing to listen to her.  She told us so many stories. She told us there would be no more pain there and no more wheelchairs. We all laughed and cried and held her hand.

On Tuesday November 16, Grandma took her last breath while my mom sang to her. My mom said it was very peaceful. Grandma wasn’t afraid like she had been in the hospital. I am so very thankful for that.  I miss her, maybe more than I can ever express.  My kids miss her too.  They are hurting.  I have given them songs that help them feel better, or so they say.  I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know how to fix their hurt, or mine.

This holiday is especially going to be hard for me.

Last year I was upset because I wouldn’t get to spend it at Grandma’s house. At least I got to spend it with her.

Now I don’t even have that.

Fading Matriarchs

No two people experience loss in the same way. This month, on Band Back Together, we are working hard to bring you stories of love and light and loss.

Please share yours with us.

Both of my grandmothers are dying, but my feelings couldn’t be more polarized.

My maternal grandmother has been battling with medical issues since she herniated a disk at the age of 20. She fought through a crushed vertebrae, arthritis, knee replacement surgery, depression, and ovarian cancer to give her love to her three children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. This past month, the cancer came back, and she tried a second round of chemotherapy.

At the age of 87, it took a serious toll on her already poor balance, and she decided that she’d had enough of the treatments.

All I can do is pray that hospice can help her enjoy the time she has left, because my heart is breaking to see my Nonna so miserable.

My paternal grandmother, my Nan, has never taken good care of herself.  As long as she’s lived in her own house, her diet has consisted of pizza, fast food, pie, ice cream, and Coke. Most of the time she hardly eats anything. Not surprisingly, her lack of nutrition over the years has led to osteoporosis, and more recently, pneumonia.

I recently went to visit her in the hospital, and I was enraged at what I saw.

She was emaciated.

Even after a week of antibiotics, she lacked the strength to stand on her own. In hopes of stimulating an appetite, we brought her a cheeseburger from Wendy’s.  She fumbled it with trembling hands for a bit before saying, “This burger is so heavy.  I can barely lift it.”

As hard as I try, I can’t find the sympathy or grief for my Nan that pours out of me when I think of my Nonna.

Both situations are awful, but all I can feel for my Nan is frustration because she’s done this to herself. All of this could have been prevented.

This anger that I feel scares me, because at this rate it’s going to rob me of my closure. I want to be able to let go.

More than anything, I’m dreading having to watch my parents go through the same thing.

Rest In Peace, Grandmother

I feel like I’m losing everyone I ever loved.

Who could be next?

My mother and I don’t understand.

Now, it’s my grandmother.

Nana.

I’m 10, and in New York.

My grandmother (on my mom’s side), lived in Florida. She lived a long life. I don’t know how old Nana was, but my mom is almost 50.

My mom is a nurse, and she would always check on Nana, over the phone.

One day, she received a phone call – a bad one. Nana had been sent to the Emergency Room, and was sick. My mom was stressing out the entire day, trying to find out what happened.

That night, my grandmother passed away.

My grandfather (on my mom’s side) had already passed away years ago.

In the morning, my mom told me Nana was dead, so I didn’t go to school. She later explained how she had died.

I don’t get life. Everything is falling from my feet. I want her back. I want everything back. I’m scared of what will come next.

By-WeWillBand

I Don’t Think I Can Process This

Just yesterday I was reading posts at this site. Shedding sympathetic tears and yet at the same time being so grateful that I had nothing to post here. My gratefulness was premature.

For all intense and purposes, my grandfather died at 8:30 last night. He actually died at 6:20 this morning.

At 8:30 last night my grandfather shot himself in the head. Even after that and being on no life support it took the rest of his body 10 hours to die. 10 hours that my father and mother waited at the hospital all the while knowing that what they were waiting for was a pronouncement of death for my father’s father.

When my mom called me last night, I knew intelligently, that my mom calls my pop-pop “Pop”, and when she called I could tell by her tone that something had happened. Someone had died and at 91, my grandfather was – of course – the most logical answer.  But he was healthy. Healthier than most men 10 years his junior and his mind was sharp as a tack, but I knew that it had to be him. However, when I heard the words “Pop shot himself tonight.”

I was thrown immediately into an hysterical state and just started screaming, “Pop-pop or my dad?!?!?  Pop-pop or my dad?!?!?”

I’m numb. I’m at work today because I need normal. I need routine. When I actually stop and really think about it, my body shuts down and I go into a near catatonic state. My body’s defenses are too high right now. Too ready to go into flight mode. I need normal. For at least today.

But nothing will ever be normal again. My grandfather killed himself. And my aunt who lives with him was home at the time. I don’t know what to think.  I’m devastated. I’m angry. And I feel so awful for my dad. Beyond awful.

When dad called me this morning to tell me that Pop-pop had finally passed away, he broke down and asked me not to hate Pop-pop.  Which I never could.  I loved that man more than anything.  He asked to please not think less of him.  And I don’t.  Then he asked me to please not be angry at Pop-pop.  I told him I wasn’t.  I told him I didn’t understand, but that I wasn’t angry.

I hope it’s not always wrong to lie.

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, please remember that suicide is never the answer.
Call the National Suicide Hotline (US): 1-800-273-8255

Three Weeks

3 weeks ago my grandma fell and broke her neck.

3 weeks ago she was rushed to Peoria to see if they could fix her.

At 82 with severe Parkinson’s Disease, degenerative bone disease, (from which she’d lost a whole 12 inches off her height) dementia, and multiple other health problems, we didn’t know what the options were.

The surgeon suggested surgery to repair the fracture. He was hopeful that it would work. Do nothing and she could become a paraplegic if she so much as coughed too hard. Or she could live with the neck brace, which she hated, her lungs could fill up with fluid and she could develop pneumonia. In such poor health, that’s not good.

We opted for surgery; really the only option. Grandma was scared but we all told her we loved her. I told her we would go dancing after she was done as she hasn’t walked in over two years.

She smiled and held our hands, said she loved us and off she went.

Surgery went well and they were able to fix the break. That was not the major hurdle though. Even in good health, Grandma has never done well with anesthesia. Two days before her fall, the dentist didn’t even want to give her a local to fix a couple teeth as she’s allergic to Novocaine.

After surgery, she was put into a regular room and about an hour later, her vitals crashed.

She was gasping for breath. She looked so very scared. She gripped my hand as a wonderful nurse held the oxygen mask on her for close to an hour until they were able to get a bed ready in the Surgical ICU. Once she was settled in the ICU, we each took turns going to see Grandma. She was on a ventilator to help her breathe and give the swelling a chance to go down after surgery. This was against her wishes and she was miserable. She had the vent in for 3 days until it was removed. She did so well.

They observed her for a day in the Surgical ICU (SICU), then transferred her down to another room for a few days.

When she was ready, she was discharged.They didn’t send her back to her assisted living apartment, but to a skilled nursing facility with hospice. Everyone came to visit. Friends, grandchildren, family, everyone. Someone was by her side 24/7. She would talk a little, barely a whisper. Grandma looked at pictures and had us to sing to her while we sat by her side. She told us that she saw my grandpa who passed away in 1978.

She told us all of the beautiful things she was seeing and hearing. It was amazing to listen to her. She told us so many stories. She told us there would be no more pain there and no more wheelchairs. We all laughed and cried and held her hand.

On Tuesday November 16, Grandma took her last breath while my mom sang to her. My mom said it was very peaceful. Grandma wasn’t afraid like she had been in the hospital. I am so very thankful for that. I miss her, maybe more than I can ever express.  My kids miss her too.  They are hurting.  I have given them songs that help them feel better, or so they say.  I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know how to fix their hurt, or mine.

This holiday is especially going to be hard for me.

Last year I was upset because I wouldn’t get to spend it at Grandma’s house. At least I got to spend it with her.

Now I don’t even have that.