Knowing you’re about to lose a grandma can be devastating. You may have relied on her for love, support, and advice. She may have been the person you could count on to listen and take your side no matter what. Losing her can be gut-wrenching and life-changing all at once.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Ways to Say Goodbye to Your Grandmother If You Can See Her In-Person
- Ways to Say Goodbye to Grandma If You Can’t Be There
How do you deal with saying goodbye to grandma — your advocate and support system? This is one of those painful losses in life that you'll have to endure. The pain of losing her will always remain but in time you'll learn to deal with your grief and life will become more bearable. Here are some ways to honor her as you learn how to say goodbye.
Ways to Say Goodbye to Your Grandmother if You Can See Her in Person
If you're lucky enough to say your goodbyes to your grandmother in person, there are many special ways you can express your love and admiration for her. You can honor her and show her how special she is to you by being open and honest about how you're feeling.
Explain to her how she has brought meaning into your life and how you cherish her being a part of it. You can continue to show her love and support throughout her final days in the following ways.
Visiting your grandmother during her final days shouldn't be scary or off-putting. There's a certain deathbed etiquette you can follow to ensure that you’re prepared with the right things to say and do during your visits. Take some time to read about what to say to someone who’s dying and make an outline to take with you of things you’d like to talk with her about.
Regardless of how uncomfortable being around death might make you feel, realize that she also knows that her days are numbered. Your grandmother surely would appreciate you stopping in to visit her even if you’re only a silent presence.
Some things to consider talking about are:
- Asking her if she needs anything done for her before she dies.
- If there’s anything she’d like delivered to someone.
- Whether she has a favorite outfit she would like to be buried in.
- Making sure everything is in order or whether are things left to be done.
- Whether there’s anything she’d like you to get rid of that might be embarrassing for someone to find after she’s gone.
- Whether she wants you to contact anyone for her.
- Any secrets she wants to reveal.
Sometimes it’s difficult for people to open up about shameful or embarrassing things in their past. Assure your grandmother that you understand and that you’re only trying to help sort out any last details before she passes. Ask her if it’s okay to share with anyone any of the things she’s revealed. If not, honor her wishes.
2. Share memories
You can boost your grandma's spirits by sharing good times. Plan to take some old photo albums for the two of you to sit and go through as you reminisce. Have an acid-free pen handy so you can record on the back of photos any pertinent information your grandmother has about the people, places, and things in the photo album.
You can also open up a conversation with your grandma about her life as a young adult up through the time she met her spouse. Ask her open-ended questions about what she was like and who her best friends were.
You can ask her to give you all the juicy details that she’s been keeping to herself all these years. You may want to share with her some of your secrets as well to increase trust and bonding. If you ever felt the need to apologize to your grandmother and ask for her forgiveness, this would be a good time to do it now that you're both feeling good and are having open communication.
3. Play her favorite songs
During one of your visits, you can ask your grandmother to tell you about her favorite songs throughout her lifetime. Let her know that you'll be compiling a list of songs to download so that you can play them for her during your next visit. This will give you both something fun to do as you spend time together and will also give her something to look forward to the next time she sees you.
Come prepared with some photos of her favorite artists and some fun facts about them so that the two of you can bond over her appreciation for music. You may want to include some of your favorites to share with her as well.
Consider leaving behind a way for her to play her favorite songs after your visit has ended. If she is unable to use technology on her own, ask the staff to help her with it.
4. Take pictures
One of the biggest things for your grandma to overcome during her last few days is knowing that her life is coming to an end. Perhaps she no longer fears death or what's next, but having to sit there and wait for it may cause her sadness and anxiety. You can occupy her time with other things to fill her days.
One loving way you can show her how much you care is to schedule a fun day of pampering and picture taking. Arrive prepared to give her a mini-makeover before taking some glamorous selfies to share between the two of you.
Ways to Say Goodbye to Grandma if You Can’t Be There
You can still find ways of making your grandma feel special from far away. You can get as creative as you want to so that your interactions are fun and interesting, but also remember that these are the last opportunities you'll ever have to say goodbye. Make sure that you leave room for some memorable conversation.
5. Call her often
If your grandmother is still able to take phone calls, set some time aside daily to call her and tell her about what your day was like and ask her about hers. Make sure to include enough details to keep her entertained. This will get her mind off of other things that might be bringing her down.
Ask her caregiving staff when is the most appropriate time for you to call so that it doesn't interfere with her feeding or sleep schedule. You’ll want to schedule your calls around those times when she is most lucid and receptive to taking calls.
6. Write to her
Take the time to write to your grandmother to bring a smile to her face. You don't have to pen long letters every day. Consider sending short snippets of something funny you read online or some quotes about grandmas that tell her how you feel about her.
Even a pretty postcard from home is likely to lift her mood and give her something to share with the staff. Letters and postcards are a great way to take away some of the loneliness she may be experiencing.
7. Send her a gift
Find out what your grandmother's favorite flowers are and arrange for a beautiful bouquet to be delivered to her with a sweet note. If flowers are not her thing, consider sending other types of gifts like books and crossword puzzles, adult coloring books, magazines or other things to provide her with some entertainment. You might even consider sending her a warm and fuzzy robe with matching socks.
Other things that make great gifts include:
- A comfortable blanket
- Digital voice recorder
- Soothing fragrance plug-ins
- iPod with downloaded music
- A spiritual contemplative figure
8. Send her photos
Sending a box stuffed with old favorite photos will help ease some of your grandmother's loneliness during her final days. While we acknowledge that dying is lonely, it's not your responsibility to make it less so for your grandmother. You can only aim to take away some of the pain and hurt she's going through now as she's faced with death.
Your box of photos will take her down memory lane to a time when she was able to live her life more fully. Hopefully, this will carry her through to the end.
Say Goodbye to Your Grandma
Sometimes there are no words anyone can say that can ease the pain in your heart from losing your grandma. One of the best ways to ease the hurt and sorrow that you're feeling is to allow yourself time to grieve and mourn her loss.
Nothing will ever be the same without her, but in time, you’ll find a way to cope with your loss and move forward with your life.