My grandmother passed away after a lengthy battle with mental illness. When someone suffers for so long after generally living a positive and healthy life there is usually a sense of relief that there is no more suffering. My mom suffered a long time as her caretaker too, so as the third generation in this equation I see more than one person who no longer had to live in pain. And when she died my initial reaction was "finally."
Finally she no longer has to live in physical and mental pain. I know
she believed in heaven and was looking forward to seeing my grandpa. So
if anything the thought is that finally she is able to be happy again.
Despite all of this I have been left with a low level of sadness. I keep
thinking about two episodes when I was a kid and things she said to me.
The first was when I was six and she came to my first grade class to
present about Russian culture (her mother was from Russia). I was so
excited to have her there I constantly went up to talk to her and ask
her questions that she would have no idea what the answer was. She
finally, very politely said, "do what you would do if I wasn't here."
That moment has often resurfaced in my mind during the episodic declines of her health, when we thought she might pass away. Now that time is finally here. Even though mentally she hasn't been herself since my grandfather passed away about 10 years ago, she still lived and breathed. Even though I was in California then Ohio for about 90% of the time she was in a nursing home, she was still my grandmother. And don't get me wrong, I am still relived that she is no longer in pain and is happy again, but there was this little part of me that always looked for the old her and wondered if it might resurface. I never thought about what I would do when she's not here 100% anymore. I guess now it's time.