Holding Grief

My dear, sweet grandmother is very ill. She’s been suffering horribly with a variety of life threatening ailments and things do not look good at this point. This has been going on for a while, getting progressively worse. She’d been refusing to leave her home for medical attention because she didn’t want to “go to some filthy hospital to die”. Sadly it got to the point where the choice had to be made to force her to be taken by ambulance and admitted to a hospital.

At the hospital she had a blood transfusion and was given morphine for her pain. She made some improvement and was feeling a little better which gave us all a little bit of hope. But yesterday was not a good day, she took another turn for the worst. One of her lungs is filled with fluid and she can not breathe. Without an oxygen mask she feels like she is drowning and she thrashes about, grasping at anything as if she is under water. She can’t eat much - taking bites of food requires the removal of the oxygen mask. Food or oxygen – what a horrible choice to have to make. Her body is swollen terribly. She has a large hard lump protruding from her stomach. Her liver is failing.

I want to go to her. I want to be with her. I want to hold her hand. I want to kiss her cheek.

I want to hear her voice.

I want to talk to her nurses and doctors. I want to know exactly what’s wrong and what can or can’t be done for her. I want to make sure she’s being cared for in the best possible manner.

None of this is possible because she lives on the other side of the country, in Ontario.

I have been getting daily updates from my mom, who is devastated.

I hate hearing my mom cry. It kills me.

I am trying to help my mom through this and doing my best to hide my grief from her. She is far away from her own mom and feeling even more helpless than me. She’s heartbroken and needs comfort. Hearing my sadness would only add to hers. As hers is adding to mine, I suppose. And so I try to talk to her clearly and logically and carefully.

I discovered last night that I must also hide my grief from Steve. After a difficult discussion with my mom I hung up the phone and cried. Steve seemed annoyed with me and even raised his voice at me. I tried to explain some of what was going on only to find that it was “bringing back bad memories” of when his dad was passing. He got up from the table and went to bed to watch TV. Leaving me alone in a dark kitchen, to cry quietly as to keep him from hearing me. I try not to take it personally, I understand his own wounds are still fresh. I just wish he could offer me some comfort in my time of struggle.

Of course I also must not show my sadness in front of my little ones. Particularly Ruby who is very observant, aware and sensitive to everything around her including people’s feelings. It can affect her sleeping, her eating, her behavior. She tries to understand things that are bigger than a 2.5 year old needs to understand and picks up on any ripple of my moods.

In all of this, I feel pretty alone. I am holding in a whole lot of stuff with no outlet for release. Those whom I want to comfort me or listen or give me a shoulder, can not or will not.

Is this what it is to be a good wife, mother, daughter? I suppose so. It’s my responsibility to care for others around me and find my own way to care for myself without burdening my family. The problem right now is that I’m not sure how to carry it all and it’s getting rather heavy. The need to keep on going and to show little to no weakness is making me feel rather fragile and I’m afraid the damn might break at the wrong place or the wrong time.