This year has been the worst ever, my Nan was diagnosed with Cancer in March 2015 and by November she was started going downhill fast.
She was not just my Nan, she was everything to me and raised me from the age of 11, after my mother left my Stepdad and couldn’t cope with life, let alone children (my brother went to live with his dad, my Stepdad).
I was her first grandchild and she doted on me and provided me with the things most parents give their kids. Long story short for most of my life she was my main caregiver growing up. Roll on 23 years and we had just grown closer and our bond stronger, despite me moving away. I was the model granddaughter and I saw her more often than family who were 10 minutes down the road, despite living 3 hours away. We got into the habit of always speaking daily, long before she got ill and it was no secret I was her favourite and she was mine.
From November 2015 Nan was in and out of hospital and hospice and had a care team visit regularly when she was at home and I spent most of this time with her on my own, relieved by my Uncle who did most of the night shifts and occasional respite from other family.
Christmas day she collapsed at the table after eating a few morsels and was taken to hospital, I went with her, she had an infection and it was touch and go, on 27 December they said they did not think she would make it through the night, the same evening I had a call from a family member to say my puppy had escaped from their house and had been run over. It was an horrific night, I did not know what to do and was upset, I left Nan after trying to convey through sobs what had happened and went up to the emergency vets and when she arrived I cuddled my puppy who was covered in blood, shaking and holding up a mangled floppy leg. The vet immediately took her away for x-rays, sedation and assessment and I went back to Nan’s bedside not knowing if either would make it.
Nan was a formidable woman and pulled through, in fact so much so that she insisted she went home to die, she did not give up the fight until February of this year, but by then she was a shadow of her former self. It was very hard to watch her deteriorate and to care for such a strong woman.
The puppy required complex surgery and round the clock care and was taken to a specialist vet practice. 5 days later I picked her up, battered/bruised and held together with bits of metal, plaster cast and bandages, it was miraculous that she had no internal injuries.
Whilst this was going on my Aunt had been diagnosed with Cancer, she had an emergency operation in January and was given the all clear after they removed an enormous tumour and most of her insides. We could not have Nan’s funeral until March, as my Aunt was recovering from major surgery and was too weak to attend.
A few days after Nan’s funeral, my Stepdad was hospitalised. We had over the last few years seen each other every once in a while and we chatted through social media, I had always been very fond of him and before we were uprooted, it was him who took us to the parks, fishing, fairgrounds, relatives, made us do homework and brush our teeth etc. He unexpectedly passed away on 21 March, I got the news in the car park of the vets on the day I left my puppy with them for her second operation to try and save her leg. I cannot recall the drive home and only remember feeling even more numb than I did already and incredibly sad, more so for my brother.
In May my Aunt was told the cancer had already spread to her lungs (despite her 100% curative operation in January), so the hospital visits, home and hospice vigils began again. It was worse, it had spread to lymph nodes and was aggressive. She sadly lost her battle in July 2016 aged 53.
The whole family is devastated, as we were all very close. Life has been pretty tough and each part of the family is trying to deal with things as best as they can.
I feel like I am not coping as well as others though. I still have days where I just cry all morning/afternoon or cry myself to sleep. I am self-employed it is having an impact on my ability to function and work normally. I have no real enthusiasm for much really, I am just going through the motions. If it were not for the puppy who is now a happy dog with a dodgy leg, I do no think I would have left the house much. I do go out with friends and walk the dog and have a bit of fun, its not like I do not find pleasure in things, even small things.
I find myself and my previous strong independence failing to regain a semblance of normality or the new normal, its just all so banal and meaningless. Work, my social life and family were a big part of my life and identity. Some of my clients were brilliant and understanding, but now I am slowly being pushed out by one of them who was supportive and who I have had a working relationship with for over 20 years. I struggle to operate on a day-to-day basis, being self-employed has its advantages though, I am not required to work 9-5 and the work gets done, even throughout the worst of it, the work was done, Until recently everything was still being run smoothly. I have however made some silly mistakes rushing something as I had missed the deadline in an otherwise unblemished work record. I am a bit disappointed, but that is not me, I am in control and do things before they need doing usually, now I am firefighting half halfheartedly. I get the feeling that they and some of my other colleagues think I should be over it by now. I would not wish any of this on anyone, but it does make me wonder how they would cope if the most important person in their life died and then they had further losses and hardship to contend with…
I went to the doctors fairly early on in April/May, as I could not sleep and was very stressed, they gave me Zopiclone and said I should contact CRUSE, frankly the leaflet inside the pack of tablets made me bin them, why would I take a tablet which was likely to increase my chances of getting cancer by 35% if I took 7 of them, that means one increases the likelyhood by 5%, why would you do that when you have just lost family to cancer and others have cancer? They said to come back, I have not been back since. I tried to talk to CRUSE, but talking is not so easy, I end up an emotional sobbing mess the two times I called and I still do not feel ready to recount this story out loud, writing is much easier.
I am wishing the year away and I have been since February I think, I just want to sleep/hibernate. Christmas is going to be hard, Nan loved Christmas, as did my Aunt, the absences will be sorely missed and the family is already breaking up. We will not all see each other this year, as Nan’s jewellery went missing while she was on her death bed and one branch of the family has told me and others it was someone I was very close to, I do not feel the same way about them anymore. This person is by their own admission very materialistic and after Nan changed her mind about giving them certain bits of jewellery in her will, all her jewellery went missing. I have repeatedly said it could have been anyone who took it, although the events proceeding the disappearance and some other dodgy things do point to it having been them. Nobody can say anything to them though, I would love to confront them, but it will just rip whats left of us apart. I still love them, it just makes me sad and it makes it awkward. I am now distrusting of them, I know it is only possessions, but the circumstances are quite vile and the sense of entitlement astonishing.
Somehow I have convinced myself that 2017 will be better, but nothing will have changed and I am not likely to suddenly feel happy overnight.
Am I in denial, am I depressed, rather than grieving?