Grateful While Dying: Saying Goodbye to my Grandfather

IMG_7230My grandfather is dying.

The last two days he’s been in Hospice by the Sea. His room is beautiful, with a balcony that opens up to a garden. He’s been kept mostly comatose on a trifecta of sedating and pain killing drugs.

He’s wrapped up in a teal, plush blanket I got for him at Target. My mom has barely left his side for a minute. Sometimes he’ll break through the sedation and bolt up, trying to scramble out of bed.

“Where am I? Why am I here? I don’t want to here,” he’ll say.

When I was alone with him the other night he woke up suddenly and asked me, “what time is it?”

“It’s eight.”



“At night?


“I slept all day? Why did I sleep all day? What am I supposed to do here–just sleep?”

I thought about telling him the truth. The truth is that you’re here to die.

“You’re here to sleep. You had a long day.”

He has bladder cancer now, on top of many other cancers and it’s a horrible one to watch. He scrunches his hands up near his face and when the pain killers stop working, he grimaces.

Today while we waited for the nurse to come I realized I could hold his hand down with mine and he actually gripped it and squeezed. It was like that reflex newborns have.

It’s hard, worse for mom since she’s there more often than I can be. Awful to see her father cry in pain but she’s helped everyone else at the very end and she’ll be there for this one too. When Alan was keeping watch he said that Grandpa kept waking up, worried that he’d missed my wedding.

I keep having to remind myself that everything is exactly the way it’s should be.

You’re supposed to grow old, die surrounded by the people you love in a place that can manage all of the pain that comes with living in a world-worn body.

How lucky are we to be here, holding his hands?

How grateful are we to know he’s surrounded by peace and comfort in a place that will help him have dignity during his last few days?

How fortunate am I to have a head full of wonderful memories of my life with him?