The real family wants the stuff when she gone and that’s fine. Those artifacts where a part of their childhood memories, relics of their life. I sometimes just hope I can keep a pair of socks; the hospital socks with the grips we keep after every time she has a hospital stay. Maybe I’ll wear them and think of her, but I won’t. She has a foot fungus and I think no matter how many washes I’ll always be a little sceeved. But that’s the intimacy I shared with her that some of her family did not. And that’s good. I’m lucky.
Perhaps when she’s ill and you need to take time off your principal or boss will say: “Well, she’s not your grandmother.” (This actually happened to a friend of mine when she needed time off for her fiancee’s father’s funeral!)
When you say: “She’s getting tired and should head home,” and a family members says: “She doesn’t look tired,” and this dig matters because it’s about her health and well-being, not only personally insulting in its distrust and wrong.
Maybe a well intentioned spouse will tell you that this isn’t really your job and that will ache painfully because you know how much whatever amount of help you’ve been able to give means to you.
When they are gone you will feel loss and tell yourself it’s not the same magnitude. But it will suck. And you might feel a duty to submerge it and help the people you feel are hurting more.
I hope when that times comes others will understand better than I the magnitude of my grief. I hope they will help me understand that my job is to be comforted as well as a comfort to others.