I remember, as a Westerner, listening to a radio show about dealing with an elderly, dying relative in China, and thinking about how very, very foreign it all was to me. Please know that I speak only as a well-meaning outsider, not as someone with knowledge of your culture.
The only reason I feel able to comment at all is because that floundering loss -- "what in the world do I say now?" -- is not unique to Indonesia. These questions touch on universal fixtures of what it means to be human. However, you may need to creatively reinterpret some of what I say here in order to reflect your own culture.
You can't fix the underlying problem. Everyone will die, and when we know that it is coming, it is perfectly natural to feel scared, lost, and lonely. That counts for her as well as for you. As a loving grandchild, you cannot fix this, most central, issue for her. But here are some thoughts to guide you:
- Do not avoid her. She needs you now more than she ever has. As the old saying goes, everybody dies alone, but we don't need to be alone before that moment.
- Don't give false assurances. No one truly knows what happens when we die until they get there. Pulling attention to these matters can only serve to increase her anxiety.
- Don't force the conversation down serious paths. Do not try to push her to feel good, or feel bad, or feel any way at all. This is her moment, and she may feel however she'd like.
- Be good company. As long as she is living, she will be preoccupied with the concerns of the living. That means that laughter and jokes are great. So is conversation about what is going on in your life, or things that interest you. Ask her how she is doing. Follow her moods; if she wants to address serious matters, then be open to that. If she only wants to play cards or watch the television, offer to enjoy these activities with her.
- Hold her hand. Touch is absolutely foundational to how humans interact with one another, and comforting touch soothes the mind in ways that words never can. She may be frail, but you can still hold her hand or give her a gentle hug.
I can't find the link, but I remember hearing from the director of StoryCorps, who has listened to thousands of short interviews between dying folks and their healthy, loving relatives (of all cultures), that there are four things that everyone needs to say before they go. They are:
- I love you.
- I forgive you.
- Please forgive me.
- Thank you.
It is wonderful of you to wish to be there for your grandmother. And at the end of her days, that is really all you can do. Be there for her, and be there with her.
(Edit: If you are not the primary caregiver for your grandmother, please consider also providing some support, both emotionally and with chores/activities, to the person who is. They may not be the person dying, but what they do is physically, emotionally, and in every other way draining. They could also use some care, love, and support.)