The hardest part of watching someone die

I always thought to myself that sudden death was the worst kind on those who are left behind. I thought that dying without notice and without getting to say goodbye was the most selfish of all acts. After all, we are left behind with all our questions and our unfinished conversations. We are left to wonder, on our own. We are left without knowing what could have been. We are left.

Recently, I’ve discovered that an illness, that comes either gradually, or over a long and drawn out period of time, can be just as painful. It’s almost harder to sit by and watch someone you love reduced to skin and bones.

Watching, helplessly from the sidelines as you do what you can to make them feel comfortable. Never really knowing if what you’re doing is enough. Or too much. Too much fussing can be as unwelcome as no fussing at all.

Here, have another drink, eat this, roll over, wear this. Move here, go to the toilet, eat this, drink this, take this, here are your painkillers. Are you awake? Did you sleep? Are you tired? Do you want to sleep? Must we go out the room? Do you have your buzzer? Should we change you? Did you eat? Eat this. Drink this. Take this.

How will we live without you? | Tyranny of Pink

… we are all silently thinking…  Day in and day out.

Watching someone die, when you know that is what’s happening, is breaking. Your heart breaks, your soul breaks. You play out all the things in your head that you need to say. All the things you know you’ll miss out on. But you don’t say them. How do you say, “I’ll miss you when you’re gone” when you can’t talk about death. It’s not polite.

Death is not fucking polite.

Death is death. It does not care. It’s coming. It’s coming for you and me….and him… sooner than us all.

And we are reduced to the sidelines, blundering fools… who don’t know what the right words are to say…

Jonelle |Tyranny of Pink

My grandpa is dying 



  • librarianwalters
    10th March 2016

    I just happened across your blog and have been reading for the last 30 minutes. My dad died 3 weeks ago after a 5 year illness and was only 51 years old. It was extremely hard to watch him get worse and at some point know that he was not going to get better. I just want to say thank you for everything you have written.

    • TyrannyofPink
      11th March 2016

      Hi Rachel, I’m sorry about your dad. I honestly hate that there are no words to really offer comfort but just know that I get how you feel and however you feel, you’re perfectly justified in feeling that way. I write this stuff down to deal with my grief but also in the hope that someone else who is struggling feels less alone. Losing a young parent (my dad was 46) is so hard because not only do we lose out on them but all the things we could have shared with them. I think with illness, we struggle with feeling relieved that the suffering is over and feeling guilty about feeling relieved and then wanting them back all at the same time. Death is such an awful thing. Thank you for your message and I’m glad my words have helped just a tiny bit. Please try and remember when the pain feels like it will never go away, it gets easier to deal with. You will never stop missing your dad but someday, you will miss him with a smile instead of tears! I wish you strength <3

  • Carla-Jade
    25th August 2015

    I have been afraid to read this! I have, And I’m broken all over again. Mad Love Jones <3

    • TyrannyofPink
      25th August 2015

      It’s harder once you’ve seen for yourself I think <3

  • CaffeineAndFairydust
    18th August 2015

    Sjoe, this post sent chills down my spine. Beautifully written! A couple of years ago my grandfather passed away after an extremely long battle with cancer. I remember watching him waste away.. He was so handsome, so strong and very bright. He was very highly ranked in the army and stayd extremely fit into his late 70’s. He was a gorgeous soul.. In watched him wither away to nothing but skin and bone. In the end, my mom would not let us see him as he was confused, he did not even recognize hos own children… I was so angry at her for keeping is away, but after a while I was grateful. My memory of him is as it should be. The thought of death scares the crap out of me.

    • TyrannyofPink
      18th August 2015

      Maz, it’s like you’ve just described my exact situation! My grandfather has always been the strongest and most independent person I’ve ever known. He has carried his family through so much. Watching him wither away has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Recently I admitted out loud that I’m ready for him to die because watching him suffer seems worse than letting him go. Today he told my gran how serious things are (she has dementia and had forgotten) and she thanked him for always being a wonderful husband and father. My heart broke all over again.

      Thanks for sharing your story with me. It’s so wonderful to know that grandfathers can be more than just the old people in our family that we see at Christmas. That to us, they will always live in our hearts. Your mother was wise keeping you away. Your memories of him are preserved.


      • CaffeineAndFairydust
        18th August 2015

        I am so sorry you are going through this. I really am… You and your family will be in my thoughts.

        • TyrannyofPink
          18th August 2015

          Thank you so much. I really appreciate that! <3

  • ChevsLife
    14th August 2015

    Jonelle, I remember 3 years so my Gran became very ill. I bathed her, rubbed her feet and visited her in hospital on-route home in the afternoons. One afternoon I arrived and the curtain was closed around her bed. My heart stood still. All I could think was “please not now, why when I’m here all alone, with a brush in my bag to make you look pretty”. She didn’t die this specific afternoon; the doctor was administering some tests, phew! That afternoon I took her weak hand in mine, and said “ouma, dis okay, ons sales almal fine wees, when you are ready to go then you must go” She passed on a few weeks later, peacefully at home.

    I have no words that will make this easier, I don’t think there is such a thing as easier when it comes to death…sending you a hug. ?

    • TyrannyofPink
      15th August 2015

      My heart stopped when reading this message… I had all the fears in the world for what had happened but I feel so relieved that your gran got to die at home. I think the only comfort is knowing that the people we love, know they are loved to the very end. When people raise us, take care of us and love us for all of their lives, it’s a gift to be able to do things for them. This weekend I saw my grandpa looking at his nails which had grown long over the last few days and I went to get the nail clipper and sat and cut his nails for him. He looked at them proudly and I felt so happy in my heart knowing I could give him a little bit of dignity at a time when he can’t do things for himself.

      There are no words but these stories make me feel less alone. Thank you for sharing yours with me Chev! So much love! xx

  • catjuggles
    14th August 2015

    Just lots of love – it’s so difficult

  • Bonnie
    14th August 2015

    It is so difficult and heartbreaking. Big hugs and lots of live always xxxx ♡♡♡♡

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