If you love someone, say it | Rebecca Jane column

Anyone else’s heart felt slightly broken for the Royals this couple of weeks?! Mine has.
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To our regular readers, you’ll probably know I lost my grandmother a couple of months ago, which is possibly why the Queen’s passing feels to be stinging slightly deeper than expected. That’s the funny thing about death and grief though, you don’t know how big or bad the sting will be.

My grandmother echoed a lot of the milestones of the Queen, so I always viewed Her Majesty as a grandmotherly figure. My nana was called Peggy. They were almost the same age, they got married in the same year, and they even looked slightly similar.

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Taking my Grandparents to London, when they had been married the same 70 years as The Queen and Prince Phillip, and the special medal they were given by the Royal Mint, was one of my proudest times. The similarities end in them both passing a couple of months apart.

Rebecca Jane with her grandmaRebecca Jane with her grandma
Rebecca Jane with her grandma

Gran, like the Queen had lived a long and happy life. In so many ways, I had been expecting Gran to leave us for years. Her health wasn’t wonderful, she had dementia, Alzheimer’s, COPD, survived COVID and sepsis within the last couple of years. Part of me thought she would go on forever though, a little like the Queen.

Gran may have been in her 90’s, but it wasn’t her time to die. Not in my opinion. She broke her hip and recovered, but she died just under a month later from other complications that I cannot talk about until after legal investigations and her inquest have been heard.

I wrote about the moments after Gran’s death recently, but the one moment that has kept coming back to me this week is the overwhelming feeling of ‘oh my goodness, she is actually gone’.

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48 hours before Gran passed, she was fighting fit. My fire and spirit come from her, and her last state of true consciousness was being rather demanding, telling us what she wanted and what we needed to do. If you told me that 48 hours later, she would be gone, I wouldn’t have believed you. There was a very rapid decline, but my mother and I were with her 1 hour before I stood over her lifeless body, and she was telling me to get her chocolate!

Looking after Gran was a mission! Anyone who cares for someone with dementia and Alzheimer’s can tell you that. A lot of my life, and that of our family, was dedicated to providing the best care and support we possibly could for her. We did everything and anything to try making her happy, functioning and still having a quality of life. We all knew her days were drawing to an end, but for everything we feel we did to make her final years good, we never thought we would have regrets.

I thought when gran passed, I would be somewhat relieved. Not for me, but for her. She didn’t have the quality of life she wanted any more, she wanted to be with my Grandad again and she was constantly battling some illness.

But I wasn’t relieved and I do have regrets.

That moment when she had gone, I stood there stunned. After everything she has gone through, THIS is how my gran died?! This wasn’t supposed to be her end!

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I have regrets about her care in that last 48 hours. I have regrets that, it doesn’t matter how much I did for her in the years leading up to her death, I still feel I failed her in the end… but I’ll come to that in a few months time.

Most of all, I regret I didn’t realise this was the end, and I didn’t tell her what she meant to me.

I had a chance, when she was telling me to buy her chocolate to tell her, and not only did I not tell her… but it didn’t even occur to me to say anything. She was whisked for a procedure, and I truly thought she would be back with us in half an hour… but, she wasn’t.

Life changes in the blink of an eye, and we never know when.

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Our wonderful Queen was greeting our new prime minister two days before her passing, and then, she was gone too.

At the time of Gran’s death, I was in therapy. I was telling my counsellor, Simon, about my regrets. How I never got chance to tell Gran how I felt about her…

He said something that has stuck with me ever since. ‘Maybe now it’s time to tell your parents too…’

My heart is breaking for the Royals, because I hope they got to say their final words to Her Majesty. I mean, imagine all the things they would want to say to her… I’m sure many reading this will think ‘of course they did…’ but you never know.

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My Gran knew I loved her, but she probably doesn’t know I really appreciate the grandparent she was to me, more than words will ever express. The passion, hard work, commitment and love she constantly gave me has given me one of the best foundations to life that a human could ever want. The constant support, being my biggest cheerleader - I appreciated all of it, and I never got to directly tell her.

She was, dynamite… but an incredible woman and I appreciated all of it!

I can say all of this now, but now is too late. I should have told her sooner.

Telling people what we think and how we feel is something we take for granted. Please don’t be me, and waste an opportunity, because we can never turn the clock back. I knew that the moment I stood there as Gran had gone. Death is the most final ending of all. We still have time today, in this moment and this second - we can do something, anything. We can tell those people we love why we love them, let’s seize this moment and spread our love. In case, one day, it’s too late.

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