Sunday, 17 March 2013


When I was young, perhaps three or four years old, my grandad died of a heart attack. I don't remember much about it other than suddenly spending a lot of time at my grandma's house. I now know that it was because my Mum had to sort out everything for my grandma - everything had been in his name and she hadn't a clue what to do, obviously compounded by the grief over his sudden death. Once everything had been sorted, the funeral done, she moved from their home in Essex to a cottage in Oxfordshire, in the village where I lived with my parents.

Soon after that I started primary school and my Mum retrained as a teacher. My grandma collected me from school every day and looked after me until my Mum got home (my Dad was often working abroad and then later did shift work). She became almost a second mother, in my life on almost a daily basis, always around to talk to, never judgmental, always proud of me.

A few years ago we realised she was becoming more forgetful and it was confirmed that she was showing the early stages of dementia. Conversations became repeated, and she became less interested in making decisions for herself, but the essence of who she was, her sense of humour and her kindness, remained. From what I know of the disease, we were very fortunate - many sufferers become disoriented and confused, sometimes even violent. We kept her in her own home for as long as we could but a couple of years ago, shortly after her ninetieth birthday, we moved her into a residential home for her own safety - it's impossible to teach someone with no short term memory how to cope with new situations around their own increasing physical frailty.

We celebrated her 92nd birthday a few weeks ago. She enjoyed having lunch out with us, and met Badger Cub. I noticed that she wasn't engaging in conversation as much as previously but still seemed happy.

I had a call from my parents this morning. They had been called to the residential home at 3am. Grandma was having difficulty breathing. My parents were at her side, talking to her. Her breathing became more laboured, but she continued to acknowledge them and the staff, smiling. She slipped away peacefully at 6am.

I am grateful that she died in her own bed. I am grateful that she died peacefully, without pain. I am grateful that she believed, even though I do not, that she was passing to a better place and would have comfort from it. I am grateful that she died with her daughter at her side, and more importantly that dementia had not taken away her ability to recognise her daughter. I am truly grateful that her body failed, gracefully, before her mind did.

Goodbye Grandma. I love you very much and will miss you.

Image: Graeme Weatherston /


  1. Sending love and prayers for you and your family x

  2. Such a beautiful post, so sorry for your loss x


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