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Regret and Anticipatory Grief
Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2020 10:46 PM
Joined: 9/30/2020
Posts: 1

My family is very religious, and it’s been some years since I left. I know my family doesn’t approve of the way I live my life, and that has led to some difficult conversations, strained relationships, and bad behavior on my part in terms of lashing out. Now that I’ve grown older, I have a different perspective on my life and although I do not agree with my family’s beliefs, I take accountability on my part for acting s****y towards them. I’ve been able to reconcile with my mother, my grandfather and I had one conversation and we don’t acknowledge it anymore. I find myself in a weird place of regret with my grandmother, as she doesn’t even know who I am anymore, and can’t speak to me. I almost wish in hindsight that I had hidden my true identity better while she was lucid so she knows that I love her. It’s breaking my heart knowing that it could be soon that she isn’t here, but I find myself grieving for the relationship we could have had if I hadn’t come out. I feel like a horrible granddaughter, and I wish I could have one lucid moment with her to say I am sorry for how I acted. I don’t know if there is any advice anyone can give, but I wanted to get it off my chest because it is killing me inside and although my partner is very supportive, I know they don’t understand. Thanks for listening.
Jo C.
Posted: Friday, October 2, 2020 1:42 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13126

Hello and a very warm welcome to you; I am sorry for what is happening and for the grief you are feeling; my heart goes out to you. 

You had such a significant challenge to meet and you did the best you could at the time when you felt so completely rejected by family; what an awful feeling to be rejected for who you are by those who are supposed to love us no matter what whether secondary to religious or any other beliefs. It is is a difficult set of tangled, hurtful dynamics and I am sure that is an understatement.

Very often, this is such an emotional set of circumstances where the other parties seem to hold all the emotional power, that especially when young, lashing out and acting in an "in your face manner," is a way to let out the hurt of the rejection, the deep anger and all the feelings that accompany that; not at all unusual. 

I do understand your regret in second guessing yourself.  Even though all of that happened; there was still, under all that negative energy on both sides, the basics; you were your parents and grandparents beloved baby and child with many sweet memories.  That may have taken a turn-a-round for awhile; but yet, there is still love under all of that and  bridges can be rebuilt which you have been doing so lovingly.

I think your grandmother would have loved you no matter what her overt judgment may have been on the surface; and inside, you also loved and do love her too despite any acting out. 

It sounds as though your grandmother is still living; is she cared for at home or is she in a care facility?  If you can visit with her; even if she no longer can process speech or hearing; she can possibly still hear. Sit by her side and recount the pleasant memories of childhood, things you shared or that she did for you; holidays spent together, etc.  You can do that time and time again in a soft voie; tell her you love her so dearly; sometimes, even though we think our  Loved One (LO) may not hear us, sometimes, some of that can get through.  I did that with my mother over and over and I think it brought peace to both of us.

If you want to lotion her hands so there is touch, or just hold a hand, that is a comfort feeling; let her know her dear granddaughter is there with her.  I so hope you free yourself from self castigation; we are all human and we are all fallible.  We all err;  there are no exceptions, humanity seems to come with that built in.

I also invite you to contact the Alzheimer's Assn. 24 Hour Helpline at (800) 272-3900.  If you call, please ask to be transferred to a, Care Consultant.  There are no fees for this service.  Consultants are highly educated Social Workers who specialize in dementia and family dynamics.  They are wonderful listeners who understand our emotions and they are great support; they have much input and information and can often assist us with our problem solving.  Just some good ears to listen and assist.

Sometimes, it is also a positive to seek personal counseling by a professional to get one over the rough spots.

From me, this grandmother, to a dear person who cares very deeply; know that we grandmothers love their grandchildren no matter if we disagree with other parts of their life; your grandmother is blessed to have such a loving, compassionate and dear granddaughter.   Even if there was some lost time long ago, there is still time to give love to her in whatever form or way that can take.

You grew; you learned, and you have blossomed. Let us know how you are doing; we will be thinking of you and we truly do care.


Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2020 5:51 PM
Joined: 11/22/2019
Posts: 399

Jo C. articulated what I feel and think so beautifully, I will merely piggy back on her wisdom and compassion to agree.

My mother forgot who I was, but she never forgot that she could trust me absolutely.

She forgot I was her daughter, but she knew she was safer when I was there.

If you can spend time with your grandmother during this pandemic, I encourage you to do so.

Speak to her, repeat often that you love her.  If she cannot completely understand the words, she can still soak in the emotion of being loved.

You can tell her that you are sorry knowing she cannot reciprocate.  That might be healing for you.

I feel that gentle handling and loving care is communicated to our people with dementia by our body language, our voices and our touch.

I wish you peace and healing and for your grandmother to have the smoothest path through her illness.