Life sometimes catches you completely unawares.
It seems that my life lately has been a fair amount of coping with end of life. Three months ago it was with my father and now it has shifted to both of my maternal grandparents. It is one of the most emotional times I think and it is extremely difficult.
My grandparents have been married nearly 70 years and they are both now reaching the end of their lives. Both are in Hospice care in their own home, a home my grandpa built himself around 60 years ago. My grandpa went into acute kidney failure about a week before my dad passed and, at 90 years of age, opted to forgo dialysis. He still has some kidney function so he is still hanging on.
It is my grandma who has surprised us all with her sudden down turn. We knew she has Alzheimer’s but shortly after my dad died she deteriorated very rapidly. We now suspect she might have had some kind of stroke. There is certainly something else going on. It has reached the point where they are both so weak that some one must be there almost 24/7. My grandma is now bedridden and in a state of near constant delirium. My grandpa, while he says he’s “All right” is fading quickly.
My aunt has been staying with them most of the time as my mom physically can’t deal with the rigors of the care they both require, not to mention she’s still very acutely grieving her own husband. But there are troubles in that my aunt and grandpa butt heads and that doesn’t make the process any easier.
It is a blessing I suppose that I live less than a mile away and I have been able to assist in this as well. But it certainly recalls for me the care my mom and I provided my dad at the end of his life and it pulls all of those memories back to the surface for us both. I think there is an odd sort of bonding that takes place between two people when they care for someone they both love dearly at the end of their life and when they are present at that person’s death. I think you become connected in a very profound way that changes you both and forever links you. As if my mom and I weren’t already linked, this certainly enhanced that.
This morning my mom told me that my aunt has mentioned to her having me stay overnight a couple nights a week at my grandparents to relieve her. And I am having a lot of thoughts about it. On the one hand, I have my children and they are my priority. However, I would go down there after they went to bed and would be back before they woke up in the morning. For the most part, they wouldn’t even notice I was gone. There is also the added factor of the memories and emotions it recalls for me in caring for my dad. It would be a significant emotional and physical strain for me. But on the other hand, these are my grandparents who I have always been extremely close to. It is where I would go as a child when I was sick. I feel like doing this is the right thing to do. I’ve talked with my kids and they would be okay with me doing this. I know it wouldn’t be for long. My grandma’s condition is such that I don’t expect her to last more than a week or so. And my grandpa I think will go soon after. I have come to believe that when two people have been united for as long as they have, one truly cannot live without the other. So, what do I do?