Grief

I've experienced grief a few times throughout my life for different reasons. I was not prepared for the grief I would feel after my grandfather died. I lost my grandfather to cancer in April of last year. Just five days before my husband and I got married and five months after moving into our new house. I hadn't seen my grandfather for seven months up until the point he was admitted into the hospital. With my daughter in school and my husband working and traveling in Manhattan, I was worried about getting him sick since he was going through chemo at the time and then recovering from surgery. All that time I will never get back. All that time away and for what?

Escalice, pregnant, standing with grandfather and woman.I thought as time went on it would get easier. It hasn't. In fact, it's gotten worse. It's gotten harder to deal with. There was so much going on when it happened that I don't think I fully processed it. It didn't feel real for so long. He passed, we got married and, a week after that, our daughter began acting out. To an extreme we had never seen with her before. It was her own grief. This was the first person in her life that she had lost and she loved him so much. She was 5 and had so many questions which I did my best to answer as honestly and age appropriately as possible. She struggled and then my focus was on her. To be strong for her and help her through this. With time and therapy she was able to begin to feel better. By this time it was summer, I had just gotten my license, and after the last shitty summer (thanks to Covid), I was determined to have a great summer with my daughter. Then school started, our birthdays, then the holidays hit and that's when grief started hitting me the most.

Thanksgiving. His birthday and Christmas in December. When the ball dropped New Year's Eve, I cried for him, feeling somehow that I had left him behind. Going into a new year without him, without calling him at midnight like I always did, felt wrong. Here I am in March and all I can think is that I cannot believe it's been almost a year without him. I grieve for the only father figure in my life; my only grandfather and my daughter's only great grandfather. I grieve him not being able to give me away on my wedding day like we had talked about many times. I grieve him for never being able to come to our new home. It's also hard to get the image of him in the hospital out of my mind. Seeing the way cancer took away my proud and strong grandfather. A tough and stubborn man I had known my whole life, who was now almost unrecognizable. A man who loved food and loved to eat, now was just bones, barely able to speak. A man I had never seen before.

I know they say with time it will get better. I want to be able to think about him and look at his pictures without crying. Some days are good when I'm not thinking about it. Other days it hits me like I'm reliving it all over again. It's up and down. I just try to remind myself that it won't always hurt this bad and allow myself to feel what it is I feel.

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"Year of Firsts"

Bethany M. Brown M.Ed.'s picture

Hi, Escalice. I am sorry for your loss. Please accept my deepest condolences. *hugs*

I would like to offer you the following:

I appreciate your love and respect for a man of whom played a lovingly honorable role in your life and the lives of your loved ones. When it comes to the family tree and the generations of men within it, it makes your tribute to him through your grief honorable and just. In this context, does it not make sense that, as you remember and revisit retrieved momeries with him, that you would feel all the feels as you sense him and process the context of his passing during these turbulent times? 

Also, mental health professionals are currently talking about "Prolonged Grief" as a mental health disorder. I have no way of knowing if this is contributing to your questioning why it is you still feel hurt. Considering the pain you have described, it does not sound like it interrupts your daily living activities to the degree of not being able to function and fail to perform your responsibilities, I hope you have not self-diagnosed yourself with this label. This is why...

All prior literature and research refers to what I have summarily named "The Year of Firsts." The first holiday; the first birthday or anniversary; the first time seeing the weather and smelling the air at the time of your loved one's passing. No matter how much you might try to frontload healing and dealing with cognition and self-talk, these moments are normal triggers. For example, you do not see him at the head of the table for Turkey Day; or he is not there to tell the story of his thoughts when your daughter was born; or, as you near your first wedding anniversary, you are reminded that he was not present to give you away. It is natural...and healthy...to find yourself having these thoughts AND reexperiencing grief. Note: These are examples that might not accurately reflect your culture and/or plans, but I hope they paint a picture of meaning.

I beg of you to not buy into the current, contemporary hype that all things must feel good all of the time. Our feelings exist for a reason or reasons. Is it possible that your reasons include the extent and magnitude to which this man, your father, over a protracted period of time highly influenced and shaped the powerful, beautiful, strong woman of whom you are today? And, if so, is it not reasonable to suggest that you miss being able to continue sharing your joys and successes with the one who contributed to it being able to happen?

Tears are not your enemy, even when they come with the hollow, chest-crushing feeling like you cannot breathe with a lump in your throat. See, approximately three months after anyone's death, humans go on. The more removed from the one who died, the more removed they become. But, as his daughter, you are not removed. And, given the aforementioned, three months are not long enough to experience the year of firsts.

I wish your heart did not hurt. I offer my words in this post to validate that your hurting heart is not abnormal nor uncalled for. You are learning to live (the type of living beneath buying the house and learning how to drive...kudos) without being able to turn to him, hug him, laugh with him, ask him questions. It feels dichotomous, especially when the world around us demands us to hurry up, get over it, and smile, dang it.

Like the tides of the ocean, each time it ebbs and flows, the feelings will return and then subside...each time being different. If the water of the ocean is allowed to ebb and flow, so are you.

Much love, Bethany.

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Thank you Bethany for your

Escalice's picture

Thank you Bethany for your kind words. I know grief has no right or wrong. We feel how we feel. Good days and bad days. I'm sure in time it will get easier. It'll be one year next week and my mind is counting down the days. It's just going to take time 

 

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Deepest condolence

JoDha's picture

When my father passed on, I struggled with my own grief. I was very close to my father but it was not at a personal level - it was at an emotional level. I have never felt my father's warm embrace, soothing words but I knew that he loved me somewhere. Having a stepmother (I was his first-born) made him difficult to express his love for me. So, when he expired, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was surprised at myself because I was ought to cry, to grieve. But no...nothing. The same had happened when my paternal grandfather died with whom I was very attached to. Later on, when my paternal grandmom passed away, I was expressionless. It took approx 8 years later for the dam to burst and for me to properly grieve. I cried and cried and cried till I cry no more. Maybe because I was not loved as a child, not emotionally involved because of my own difficult childhood years growing up in a broken home, broken family, alcoholic stepmother, being locked up in one room day and night - allowed to come out only during schooltime - and despite having the father in the house I rarely got to spend moments with him as my stepsister was born and she hogged all his attention. My stepmother never liked me being with my Dad and my father was helpless as he doesn't want any quarrels in the house - so he never come to me unless necessary.

Here is a beautiful quote I read somewhere : Grief is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

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