Yesterday was my GrammyBear’s birthday, she passed away from cancer almost eight months ago and I struggle with the grief of missing her every day… Which is why I decided to work on this piece; for those grieving, going through the loss of someone you love or are preparing yourself for loss – you are not alone, and this is how I handled my loss.
Before I begin I want to start with the fact that EVERYONE GRIEVES DIFFERENTLY and as long as you are not hurting yourself physically or mentally or hurting others, then I say feel what you are going to feel… I also want to add that death tends to either bring out the best or worst in people so prepare yourself by enforcing boundaries that keep you sane and healthy during this heartbreaking time.
I wanted to talk about the grieving process for quite some time but just felt due to my mental health that I wasn’t ready… When I visited my grandmothers grave for the first time after her service I believe, as I was leaving I received my sign that I was ready… As my husband drove me out of the cemetery we heard an acorn fall on the roof and strike it three times. When we got out to look for it there wasn’t a single acorn under that tree or our truck except for the solitary one that struck our roof. The thing is… my Grammy loved little acorns and even left me a brooch that holds acorns, and the three knocks – well I think she was just saying hi and letting us know she heard us and felt us , and appreciated us thinking of her. And with her “sign” I felt like I was ready… Ready to start talking, ready to remember with tears AND happiness, and to know that I’ll never really get over losing her but with time it helps to make things more bearable.
One of the things that helped during her hospice care was this little book the wonderful nurses provided: Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience – this book was very short and basic but had helpful and useful information and also brought me some comfort. Those dealing with hospice care and are unsure of what to expect – this one is for you. Especially appreciated the lack of religion aspect; although my grandmother was a devoted Christian I’m not and didn’t need the overly religious texts at that moment – I needed facts and a very straightforward approach and this book provided me that.
Music is one of the things that truly helped me during trying times, transporting me to a place of safety and nurturing… Soothing my soul in ways words couldn’t…. Music saved my sanity in times when I felt the grief was too dark and I just needed comfort provided by a soul I didn’t have to pretend everything was ok in front of. W
Another aspect that seriously helped was talking. That’s right just talking – chatting about how my Grammy introduced me to the King and all things swing that helped create the vintage-retro loving gal I am today, chatting about how my Grammy would both love and hate my new tattoo, or how I wished I had written down her secret family recipe for her world famous potato salad, or how I wanted her with us when we first visited Disneyland with Lilith because she was there for my first Disney trip… Seeking out an online grief support group helped immensely; talking with others who understood how the pain can just suddenly creep up on you leaving behind a trail of tears and morose made such a difference. I didn’t feel like I needed to “suck it up, because she wouldn’t want me to be sad.” Well guess what? I was sad and I needed to experience that and having others understand that was incredibly healing.
I went ahead and dug out all of my old photo albums and spent hours reminiscing about family trips together, fights over breadsticks, how she taught my sister to forcefully burp lol even now as I cry while I type I’m still giggling at those past memories reminding me that the reason I feel so much pain is because she was SO loved and gave all her LOVE to those around her… including me.
Also, I still talk out loud to my GrammyBear… When my Mom is running over an hour late and I can just feel that my Grammy would be giving her crap and commiserating with me – I’ll say out-loud, “Well she’s late again Grandma.” And I can see her rolling her eyes and smiling at my mother’s antics. When Lilith picks up her favorite baby doll and hugs it, it’ll bring a tear to my eye but I’ll still say out loud, “Well Grams, it’s still her favorite.” And I can visualize the lit up smile that would grace her whole beautiful face in pride and joy. I recently had an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity and as I sat at her grave I told her everything about it… She may not have answered the way she use to be able to but I could feel her pride, her happiness and love for me. And that’s enough…
So the tips I have for you Loves while your suffering or preparing for loss:
– Feel the pain, let the tears run free, and take whatever time you may need for yourself.
– Accept that you’ll always miss this person and that’s OK.
– You have to keep moving forward, living in the past with regrets of what you did or didn’t say, or did and didn’t do won’t help you right now. They are listening and it’s never too late to say what you need to say.
– Talk to your passed Loved ones, they may not be able to answer but you should be able to feel their love just from invoking their memory to share something that’s happening currently in your life.
– If you are feeling like you are in a bad place mentally or physically don’t hesitate to reach out. You are not alone in your grief.
And lastly know that we all experience loss, we all have an expiration date and to live the life you’ve got to the best of your capabilities because who knows how long we’ve got – better to enjoy the time we have then to never take the time to stop and smell the roses…
Sending out so much and love and light to each of you.
Until next time,
See you again GrammyBear, love you with all of my heart and thank you…. for everything.