My grandmother-in-law passed away last week. She was very dear to me and I had come to love her very much. When my grandma passed away in 1996, before my husband and I married, she offered to be my grandma too. It still makes me well up just thinking about it.
She hadn't been well the last few years, dementia having taken it's toll. I don't do well in these situations. I feel completely helpless and extremely uncomfortable. It's the type of situation I want to avoid. Anytime a nursing home, or anything like it, is involved I will avoid it like the plague. My mom worked in them for many years, and to me it became a place for old people to go die. Much like hospitals, they totally creep me out. I had the opportunity to go see Grandma last Thanksgiving and totally chickened out. Then again, that would have been my last memory of her. and I'm glad it isn't. To this day, I deeply regret viewing my Dad at the funeral home. I would have been better off having the last memory be of his last words to me, seeing the love and understanding shining brightly from his sky blue eyes. It's the cold, empty shell that comes to me in my dreams more than his smiling face. I didn't want that with Grandma.
She's at peace now. That's what matters. I still hate death, though, and all the crap that goes with it. Everyday we have in this world is a gift. Share it with as many as you can. To those that you treasure most in life - tell them you love them more often. Call up a friend you haven't talked to in a while and just let them know you were thinking of them. Smile at a stranger every once in while. Next time you see your mailperson, thank them for the job their doing. Call a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or a parent for that matter to see how their day is going. In this case, it truly is the thought that counts.