Mimi Where is TT?; A Grandmother's Heart Breaking Survival of Grief
I thought long and hard before I decided to write this blog. First, because I was not sure I could write it and not break down. Then I thought, so what if I do break down, that is what I need to do at this moment.
I began to wonder if anyone else would be able to relate to this issue, then I remembered all my fellow suffers from The Compassionate Friends Loss group and knew that hundreds of Mimi's, Grannies, Gigi’s, Nannas, and Me- maws are hurting so deeply that they are not sure that they can make it through to the next day.
This article is not going to fix your pain, but it's an article that's heartfelt and if it helps you to know you are not alone, then that is truly enough for me.
On November 8th, 2017, I was at my middle school’s basketball game when I received the call. My soon to be son-in-law, Ryan, called and asked if I knew where Clark Memorial Hospital was. What I remember after that was saying yes, what is wrong, and calling my husband.
Something was wrong with my granddaughter!
I met my husband at the house and together we headed toward the hospital. We were starving, so we stopped by the gas station and grabbed a coke and a hot dog (this will be important later) and then we headed across the bridge to Indiana.
When we arrived at the hospital, my oldest daughter, Joesy, was coming out of the front door. She stopped and told us they were transferring my granddaughter to Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville. This was the first time I thought, this was serious and was much worse than any of us wanted to believe.
I used to be a Patient Care assistant in the NICU, so I knew what it meant to be transferred to Children’s Hospital. I thought to myself, life would not do this to me again! In the past, I had already lost my infant son and I knew life could not possibly be this cruel.
My youngest daughter, Tayler; age 20 at the time, arrived at Norton's Children's Hospital by a police escort. Once there, my daughter shed some light on what was happening. My precious Teagen, we call her TT, had been eating a diced cheese stick when it became lodged in her throat. She was choking.
Ryan, my daughter's fiancée, was sitting on the couch beside her when he looked up and saw Teagen choking. He immediately started CPR and dialed 911. She was being transported to the hospital by ambulance when she went into cardiac arrest.
The paramedics were able to get a heartbeat, but she never regained consciousness. It was too much for her little body to take.
It seemed like forever before the doctor came to talk to the family. I can remember his words “We are worried she went 30 minutes without oxygen”. My heart dropped, no one in that room understood like I did what this meant and what was happening.
I knew. I knew and I could not show what I knew deep down because I did not want to steal what hope my daughter and Ryan still had.
On Nov 9, 2017, our precious sweet little TT took her last breath.
She was surrounded by her family and friends. We held hands, praying for a miracle. A miracle that did not come. That was the end of my old life and the beginning of what I now refer to as, "What I have to do".
The days to follow were a blur of funeral arrangements, friends, and family. Well-meaning people trying their best to help ease our pain. My two grandsons played at the funeral home and would run-up to the casket to talk to Teagan. Jaxon, two at the time, would say, " why is she still sleeping", and then he would go find someone else to talk to. When all the fuss ended, the true heartache and unbearable grieving began.
As a therapist, I knew what to do. I had been trained to help others through their grieving process. I knew what I would say to a client, how I would support them through this, but I had no idea how I was going to survive myself and help my family survive too.
It was such a struggle to see my daughter hurt so deeply. I became angry! I resented my husband for not getting me to the hospital sooner and stopping for that stupid hot dog. I went through a range of emotions from wanting my grandsons close by to not be able to get out of bed the next day. My grandsons reminded me of what should have been. My family was not complete.
Adam, my husband, and I worried our daughter would commit suicide, and we would be planning another funeral. Somehow we made it through the upcoming holidays and the New Year began. I had no idea what to say to my little grandsons Jaxon and Leo when they would ask “Mimi where is TT?” “Is Tayler bringing TT to your house?” My life was not a life anymore. Raging or crying is all that I could do.
I went back to my day time job working with children, but could not handle the thought of sitting in a therapy room with a client. My private practice had always been my passion and now I saw it as something I thought I would never return to.
On the day that I contemplated suicide, I knew it was time for the therapist to seek help!
I sat in the therapy room saying what I knew the therapist wanted to hear. I was fortunate to have the best therapist ever, and he was able to see through my charade. Thankfully I received the help I needed.
The first thing I would say to anyone that struggles with grief is to find that professional that you can feel with. I say feel with because it is about being able to feel the anger, hate, sadness, and overwhelming pain, and knowing that they can handle it with you. A therapist is not caught in the web of pain, so they can move you through it without it being a burden.
My husband and I turned toward each other. He would go to therapy with me at times, and I was able to talk about my resentment in a healthy constructive way and not in a hurtful, angry way.
My husband and I were able to share our hurt and we pulled together.
The second piece of advice I would give is, do not let this overwhelming pain tear your marriage or important relationships apart. Turn toward one another, allow each other to fall apart and come back together again.
Another painful lesson I have learned is that not everyone is able to support you through a devastating loss. This is a different kind of hurt, a hurt that cuts so deep that no band-aide can fix it. Not everyone in your life is able to handle your pain. It may take a bit, but those people who can handle the pain and devastation will shine through.
Lean on those who are there for you, be honest with them. Let them love you and help you. It's okay to need others. It's also okay to let the ones who are not able to stick this out with you go.
I am not suggesting you start cutting people out of your life but those who cannot stand by you may need to be behind you. You have been through enough, you need to heal before you can fight more battles.
I cannot be honest and tell you I have the same faith that I did before this, that would not be true. I struggle every day with this but I will say, find a way to grow in peace.
Find a spiritual group, meditate, pray, join a bible study, search for your inner peace. It's that peace that will help you to move from anger and rage, despair, and hopelessness to a sense of self again.
I am not there yet, I am working hard to find my way and help my family find their way. I know that I cannot help them if I do not find myself first.
I want to thank The Compassionate Friends network, Ken Hollis Counseling, Beechland Counseling Ministries, and all my family and friends who have stood by us through this devastating loss.
"We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same.”
― Trent Shelton