Sudden loss of my Nan

Hi all

I am new here. and I’d like to share my story.

This is my first time of dealing with a bereavement.

I lost my Nan to cancer in April after an extremely short diagnosis. This was something unexpected and has completely thrown me and my family in to a very lonely and dark life without her.

I was very close to Nan, I saw her everyday as she had recently moved around the corner from me. It was something she had longed to have, a nice little bungalow with her dog. Things seemed to be going so well and I’d never of imagined sitting here writing this now.

She started to suffer with back pain that wouldn’t ease, she suffered with Fibromyalgia and this would cause parts of her body to ache so we just put it down to that. However other symptoms started to develop, loss of appetite, loss of interest of everyday things. She had an appointment with her GP and they told her she did not look well and that they wanted to run further tests, one of which was a blood test which had shown raised levels in her liver, she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in June 2020, again we assumed it could be linked. The next day she received a couple of letters, one of which was a pathway referral to rule out cancer(s) so we had some clarity what they were looking for but at the time, Nan told us she wasn’t worried and nor should any of us be.

Days started to pass and there was rapid decline in her so I decided enough was enough and called for an ambulance. When the paramedics showed up, they did usual checks and checked her blood pressure which the results had alarmed them as they were extremely low but said they would check them at the end of the examination to see if any change.

Further checks took place, meds, general ability etc… and they decided they were not going to take her in. It wasn’t until I prompted them to do the additional blood pressure check that they changed their minds and said they wanted to take her in. Due to Covid restrictions, I was not able to accompany her up to the hospital. I got her a bag packed with some clothes, purse, phone, tablets etc… and she was taken off at about 10PM.

Myself and other family members stayed in touch and kept each other in the loop of any communication with Nan whilst waiting to go into the hospital as there was a very long wait to get into the emergency department, again due to Covid. Once she was admitted, they run several further tests, MRI, CT scans, blood tests. We waited til morning to see of her whereabouts and how she was doing. My mum was next of kin so she would be contacted by the hospital once any update was ready. My aunty decided to call as it had been a little while and that’s when they turned to her and said, we will be calling your sister shortly and this is when my Mum knew she was about to be prepared to hear something bad.

The call finally came, cancer had started in her Lungs (small cell), spread to her Liver, Lymph nodes, stomach, adrenal gland, spine and skull. They would only permit one person to go and see her for a short while so one of my uncles took a trip up there. She was dosed up pretty high on morphine to control the pain and turned to my uncle and said “Do you know?” assuming she meant the cancer diagnosis. That evening, a few of us had video calls with her over a tablet supplied by the ward at the hospital but it was very poor reception so we tried it through Facebook video instead. It was very difficult seeing her like she was and just didn’t look like Nan.

The next day, mum was contacted with a prognosis the minimum being 2 months as treatment was not an option as Nan was too weak. This completely devastated us. I locked myself away in my room and just laid in bed, completely broken and numb. All I could think was “How is this happening” “Why my Nan” The sweetest, most caring woman and I was losing her.

Everyday was just worse news, nobody able to visit and video calls were kept to a minimum as Nan was just so tired and out of it. Her abilities were declining day by day, the hospital wanted to put us in touch with someone to bring nan home and care for her for the time she had left or to go into a nursing home but this continuously kept changing as they didn’t deem her fit enough. Mum received another call and said we were now looking at weeks and that her family could start coming up to visit as she was now considered end of life. Mum and her 3 siblings each had 15 minutes allocated to see Nan and it was very unpleasant as she was just sleeping and agitated with the pain.

The night before she passed, my aunty called to give the ward everyone’s number in case anything happened through the night. And then the morning came and she’d gone, I felt in complete shock when I saw Mum calling, I just knew then. I kept wanting to cry but it just wouldn’t come, I already knew I’d lost her as soon as we were told that diagnosis.

Days had passed and I was still completely numb, the tears did begin to surface and it was a release but once I started I couldn’t stop, I was so utterly heartbroken and I know I always will be.

I started to buy little bits and pieces that reminded me of Nan and something I had just to feel close to her. We also have taken on her little dog Poppy, it was definitely one of the hardest things I have done and you do wonder what must go on in their little head and what they must think, I found myself talking to her a lot and reassuring her we love her and will always look after her as Nan would have wanted that.

The after effects are many to list but I am back to work full time now and just trying get myself on track as best as I can.

All I will say and what I have learnt so far during this sad journey is that you cannot put a time on grief, nor can anyone tell you how you should grieve.

This is not something you ever get over, you eventually just learn how you go on to live without them.

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Hi Heather, I am so sorry that you have had such a horrible time and you are such a sensible and realistic person who knows all the problem of grieving. Yes, there’s no time limit or path that grief follows and our society doesn’t do grief very well. No one knows how to deal with it themselves when it’s their first experience or how to help others. It’s pushed under the carpet and no one talks which is what you want to do. Writing about your experience is an excellent way and even keeping a dairy of your feelings helps. Everyone on this site knows how it feels and reading others posts may help you understand your emotions. Cancer is such an horrendous thing and often things move to fast for us to process but even knowing really doesn’t help when the end happens. I am pleased you are looking after Poppy and telling her how much she is loved. I have a cat and sometimes worry what will happen to her if I went, so your nan will have known that poppy would be looked after, that’s lovely. Bless you. Take care and life will improve, slowly but it will. S xxx

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