My Grandfather’s Declining Health: Coping with Loss and Struggle

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Updated: Aug 01, 2023
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The Onset: Grandfather’s Declining Health

At the end of my sophomore year, my grandfather fell ill. I hadn’t realized the severity of it until I began noticing the change in his behavior. He was acting weaker and needed more help than he ever had, and because of this, we spent all of our time together. The following week we were informed that he would need open heart surgery. The days leading up were beautiful, full of games, love, and old family stories.

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The Twin Trials: Uncle’s Health Scare

We were then faced with another challenge. My Uncle, my grandfather’s son, had also been told he needed open heart surgery. As a child, he had had lung cancer, and as a result, his surgery was more intense than my grandfather’s and would require much more recovery time. Like my grandfather, we all spent time together as a family, absorbing as many memories with one another as we could.

Post-Surgery: Temporary Relief and Last Memories

A few days later, my grandfather went in for surgery. My family and I camped out in the waiting room as he was being worked on. Hours went by before we heard anything, and it was good news. He was out of surgery and sedated, with no problems to report. The feeling of relief was overwhelming, and I remember crying as the doctor told us. It was two days before he woke up. When my younger sister and I walked into the room, his face lit up, and he looked like a changed man. His face was full of color, his breath was not so labored, and he had his original sassy self back. His distaste for hospital food was hilarious, and he would always insist we bring him diet cokes so he wouldn’t have to drink the ‘awful sludge,’ they had the nerve to call tea. We even went as far as to sneak him some McDonald’s fries one time. By the time he was in rehab, my Uncle had begun to prep for surgery. The day of his surgery was just as unnerving and heart-wrenching, but it finished with the same results.

Loss and Hope: Grandfather’s Passing and Uncle’s Struggle

It took some time for him to gain consciousness, and around the same time, my family and I were planning on heading to the beach for a week. We went and visited my grandfather, giving him our love and kissing him goodbye. The memory of that exchange is seared into my mind. On the second day at the beach, I came down with sudden sickness and laid in bed for most of the day. When I was finally feeling better, I went to see my little sister and cousin, who were playing Fortnite, in the bedroom. The next minutes were some of the worst in my life; my parents and aunt entered the room, tears staining their faces. I knew when I saw them that someone was gone, but I didn’t know who. Shakily, my aunt told us my grandfather had passed, and he had felt no pain. My world was in pieces, and I broke in two. Six hours from home and destroyed, we packed the house and got in the car. I cried myself to sleep and woke up when we arrived at my aunt’s house, where my grandfather had passed. I could bring myself to look at the house; it was too painful. I can’t remember the next night, and I’m glad. We knew the hardest part was yet to come, and we knew it had to happen. Weeks later, when my Uncle was finally lucid enough to understand anything, we went and told him. Holding his hand and standing around him, we spoke, and I could see him break before us. It was a hurt no hospital could fix. They still haven’t, and my Uncle is still in the ICU, but we hope for the best for him every day. I have seen life and death, and I choose life.

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My Grandfather's Declining Health: Coping with Loss and Struggle. (2023, Aug 01). Retrieved from