So ashamed, but I need to tell this story... | INFJ Forum

So ashamed, but I need to tell this story...

Black Swan

Community Member
Sep 28, 2008
All my grandparents died by the time I was 13 and I wasn't particularly close to any of them. I really don't know how to cope with death of family members or even be around elderly people. It makes me intensely uncomfortable...what do you say to someone that has been around 50+ years longer than you? What could they possibly want to hear from me? So, I was very anxious as I was sitting in the waiting room counting the seconds before I would be faced with this very ill, elderly woman that I've heard so much about, but never met. Then switching from my nervousness, I became ashamed for worrying about myself instead of being supportive of my husband and his very loved matriarch, he especially loved his grandmother.

My mother-in-law came into the room and said it was my turn to go in. I put my daughter in her arms and felt the typical beginnings of panic and nausea when I know I will be in contact with elderly people, not to mention an individual that could possibly be dying and was so loved by my husband. Then I felt a moment of salvation because I remembered she was on a ventilator and couldn't talk, and we weren't suppose to talk to her because it would make her upset that she couldn't respond. So, on the way to her room I'm thinking: Ok, this won't be too uncomfortable, I'll come in, I'll smile in support, put my arm lovingly around my husband, he'll kiss her goodbye and we'll leave.

I came into the room to see my husband holding the hand of an impossibly small woman. I hesitated, then walked forward and stood still next to my husband and the hospital bed, he said: "Mimi, this is my wife". And she looked at me and this expression came over her face, I wouldn't know how to explain it or compare it since it was the first time meeting her. And my husband says: "I know, she's beautiful" like the two of them had been carrying on this conversation about me before I came into the room. But I saw her eyes, and something came over me, not pity or grief. But something that put aside all my shame and anxiety, I picked up her hand too, the same my husband was holding, and she let go of his and squeezed mine. And I told her: "Mimi, I'm so happy to finally be here with you, this is my first time meeting you, but I love you too". And tears came to my eyes because I meant it, that is what surprised me... Before I came into the room, I was planning my escape, and in just a few moments of being next to her, I realized that I loved her and couldn't understand why.

I'm not sure how long we stood there holding her hand, but I could only feel love towards her and the desire to take care of her. I looked at her and I said: "I promise Mimi, we'll come back to Texas in a few weeks when you're feeling better". Eventually the drugs made her sleep again and we left. We went back into the waiting room and I felt a pang in my heart as I realized again that my three year old daughter wouldn't be able to see her great grandmother this trip because she was in ICU... I promised myself that my daughter would see Mimi next time.

We got back home last Wednesday, and my mother-in-law called Friday to tell us Mimi was showing significant improvement, they removed the ventilator and she was able to breathe on her own and she was even eating, peaches in fact. I felt such relief and excitement I jumped on the computer to start looking at airline tickets to see how soon we could make our next trip back, February was looking good.

Barbara, a.k.a. Mimi, passed during her sleep early Saturday morning. I was surprised, she was just doing better, we were looking for airline tickets and talking about our next trip. I cried and hurt, one would have thought she was my beloved grandmother, then I felt like a jerk for my husband having to comfort me instead of me comforting him. I had gone from being nervous and afraid of meeting this woman, to feeling miserable that my only memory of her, my only real interaction with this wonderful being was while she was dying. It's precious, something I'll take with me for the rest of my life. I'm still trying to remember what we talked about the occasional times we spoke over the phone as the years passed... I feel wretched that i can't remember more.

I keep thinking of something my husband told me after we left Mimi for the last time, he said: "Mimi loved you, that look on her face... She was glad to see me, but even more glad to see you". I'm happy to hear that she felt love for me the way I felt it for her in those few moments. But regardless, I don't feel that I deserved it... I think all these years I have been avoiding making plans to visit because I didn't want to experience the discomfort of looking at someone and knowing they're close to the end. I'm ashamed of being so selfish and ignorant, for possibly denying beautiful memories for my husband and daughter.

I suppose I'm posting this because I need to throw myself at the mercy of my fellow INFJ's and beg to question if anyone else has experienced anything like this before? Suggestions, comments are welcomed, even if they're nasty ones because I think I have it coming.
You don't deserve any nasty comments for this.

You did nothing wrong, and felt nothing you weren't supposed to. I'm sorry for both of your losses. :(
I have moments in my life that parallel this. So, I understand how you feel.

Like SH said, you did nothing wrong at all, you shouldn't have to feel any guilt from this at all. You gave her love, that is one of the best things in the world that you can do :)
I miss my grandparents verry much, I only have one left right now and I avoid seeing her because I have a weird relationship with my family. I feel aweful whenever I have the opportunity to see them and turn it down, but I do it anyway.

When my grandfather was dieing my family got together to see him in the hospital. My grandfather and I never had a deep meaningful conversation, but he alwayse struck me as a deep person and we seemed to share a meaningful connection beyond words. When I saw him in the hospital I could barely bring myself to say "hi," I sat in the corner stone quiet while everyone talked to him like he wasn't dieing. I felt ashamed every time he would look over and catch me staring and I would just turn my gaze away.

(It's not really the same situation at all, so I guess I offer that for your consideration and because I had wanted to type it and found a reason)

As for love, I'm not sure I ever feel like I deserve it, but it's something that is given, weather you want to accept it or not.

I have never dealth well with people I love dieing, I miss them and never feel like things ended the way I would want them to. I find I write a lot of letters to those who have passed, I ask them the questions I never took the opportunity to ask, I tell them the jokes I never got to tell them, and I tell them how I'm doing, and what my current problems are, and feel a lot better.
I'm very moved by your thread, Black Swan. I hope you won't waste any time on guilt, or speculating on whether you deserved it or not. It seems evident, to me at least, that you did - at the moment you mastered your fear when you walked into that room. I can't imagine what unpleasant thoughts you imagine your post might evoke. I myself was very touched by it.

I suspect it was of great comfort to your husband to comfort you in your despair, and a very great gift to him that you and his grandmother should have shared such a beautiful moment in his presence.

I'm very sorry for your family's loss... for your loss. But also very appreciative of being able to hear of this experience, which sounds as though it may have been life-changing for you.
I think it's wonderful that you had such a sweet connection before she died.
Dear Swan, I'm sorry for your and your family's loss. You deserve kindness and comfort, no nastiness. You faced a very real fear with courage and love. I understand how easy it is to feel guilty, but that's not fair to you and you don't deserve it.
It is beautiful that you were able to make a connection with Mimi, a memory and knowing that you will now be able to treasure and share with your family.
Black Swan, I'm very sorry for your loss. You handled the whole situation showing love and compassion. You showed her your love, and recieved hers in return. You didn't do anything wrong, and have nothing to be ashamed for.
thank you for sharing.
i got a tear reading it. lol

thats beautiful,
may this experience give you strength in the future .:m107:
you're a beautiful soul.
I bow to you.
Love n Blessings
Thanks all for your support.

After I posted, I also felt the need to let my husband read it, I felt like I'd been harboring a dirty secret and it was just eating me alive. I was expecting him to at least be disappointed at my reluctance to even see Mimi. But, once again I was surprised. He just smiled and said: "I didn't read anything that I didn't already know".

ZenCat you were right on. I saw your post and asked him about feeling comfort in consoling me and he said most definitely, which I did not see coming, nor do I still quite understand it. And it was indeed life changing.
All my grandparents are gone. All of them suffered a lot before they passed away. I also feel guilty for not being there for them when they were healthy, when they were lonely, when they needed company, understanding and support. My parents also did not understand their loneliness and pain. I did not know what to do as I was still a useless young adult with the mind of a kid when they passed away. If it were now, I would know what to do. I often think about them and pray that they are now in peace, under God's love and care.

I can relate to your experience. I was never close to the grandparents on my dad's side. I remember we only visited them a few times a year for their birthdays or New Year. Later we moved and we became even more distant.

One year, we decided to fly back for a vacation. At that time, my grandfather was not in good health. He had heart failure but he refused to go to the hospital. So we tried to convince him to go so that he could receive proper medical treatment. On the night that I visited my grandfather at his home, he was lying in bed. He is the type of person that really enjoys going out for dinner with family. But he had to decline on that day because he could not get up at all due to his condition. As I walked up to his bed, he smiled at me and his face was just lit up with happiness. He must have been in a lot of pain but he still managed to give the warmest, kindest smile. I could tell that he really cared about me and still regarded me as a kid. I was very moved and felt guilty. Despite not being in touch for a long time, my grandfather still cared about me that only a grandfather could. I prayed very hard after the visit hoping that he would not be in so much pain and suffering anymore. My aunt who was living with him finally convinced him to be taken to the hospital. My parents and I continued on a side trip to another country as air tickets were already purchased in advance. We were to go back to visit him a week later. But on the last day of our side trip, we received a long distance call from my aunt that grandfather had passed away. He died with a lot of pain in the hospital. We did not know his condition had gotten so bad. From my aunt's account, there were a lot of complications, there was suspicion of the wrong drugs being used and improper care by the hospital staff, his body could not handle... Our heart sank. We thought that he would be better after admission to the hospital. We did not know he would go downhill from there. We were devastated. I also felt tremendous guilt. I felt that his suffering was in part due to our own negligence. All we could do after his passing was to pray and ask for forgiveness. We never know what we have until it's too late.