At least he’s honest

MasterBuilder and Ukrainia took off this morning for Traverse City for a few days. I leave tomorrow afternoon for California. This occurred at dinner:

John: I’m going to miss you on Thursday
Amanda: Awww… wait. Aren’t you going to miss me on Wednesday, too?
John: I’ll be too busy enjoying having the house to myself.

Today

[Originally posted to a mailing list of friends]

This morning, my grandmother passed away.

She went quietly, with very little pain. The exact cause of death is unknown, but is likely to be complications from her Alzheimer’s combined with natural causes.

I discovered her this morning when I brought breakfast in to them.

If I had to boil my advice on how to deal with the death of a loved one down to a single sentence, it would probably be “Don’t be the one to find the body.”

Grandpa is coping, but is having trouble coming to terms with her death. His memory isn’t allowing him to grieve much. He’s already asked me once this evening where Grandma was, and I had to explain that she died this morning and that the funeral home had come and picked up her body. When he is able to remember, though, he’s filled with questions about what we did to deserve this. I’m not sure which is harder, losing my grandmother or watching him lose his wife (again, as his first wife died of cancer).

This death has brought with it a lot of firsts for me:

Obviously, I’ve never been the one to find the body before. In fact, I’ve never even seen a dead body that wasn’t cleaned up and in a casket– ie, outside of the funeral.

I’ve never dealt with a death in a home– prior generations have died in hospitals. I didn’t realize that after the EMS people and the police came out, there would be a period of time in which her body was left in the house– the sheriff’s office releases the body to a funeral home, who comes and picks it up. Since we chose a funeral home in Rochester, and they were already out getting someone else, Grandma stayed in the house nearly an hour after everyone else had left.

I didn’t realize that the funeral home people drove minivans– somehow, I don’t find it comforting that I could easily put a dead body in the back of my car.

Tomorrow morning I am supposed to have decided what Grandma will wear for eternity. I had a hard enough time deciding what she would wear for a single day. I know that it’s something that has to be done if you’re going to have a funeral– the housecoat she was wearing is hardly appropriate. When my great-grandmother died, she left a letter stating which dress to use, which jewelry to use, and which lipstick to use. Up until today I didn’t realize just how thoughtful that letter was. (Perhaps I shall have to write one for myself, just in case. I hope that styles change a couple dozen times before it has to be used, but I don’t want to put John through any more than he has to go through).

Tomorrow afternoon starts the phone calls. My mother has already offered to call most of the family and a half-dozen of the friends she and Grandma shared, leaving me with one aunt and a myriad of people I don’t know very well. Today, John called only my mother and my uncle. (I tried, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say that Grandma was gone. I had a hard enough time when I called John and 911 this morning– the closest I could come was “I think she might be dead” even though she was cold to the touch and her fingernails were blue). I suppose I could/should have called more people today, but it seems so pointless to call and say “She’s dead, I’ll call again when we know what the arrangements are.”