Loosing My Grandmother

Monday, April 9, 2018
It has been eleven months since I lost my beloved grandmother.  A days doesn't go by that I don't think of her, miss her and hope that this is all a nightmare that I am trapped in.  I can remember everything so clearly and it plain old sucks. 

May 10th, 2017, I had my last visit with my grandma.  I went up there to see her, we had pizza and talked.  She was excited that I had made a mixed berry pie for her.  Infact it was one of the first things that she had asked about when I got up there.  She was doing okay that day.  I had woken her up from a nap when I arrived.  She ended up taking another nap when I was there.  I can remember watching her sleeping in her chair, thinking that she was dying.  I shook that thought my head, as I figured I was just being paranoid.  After she woke up we continued our visit.  When I left she told me that she would see me on Saturday and was looking forward to a BBQ hamburger that my dad would be making.  I gave her a hug and she told me how much she loved me and my son.  I knew then and there I was never going to see her again, even though she told me that she would see me in a couple of days.  I hoped and prayed that I was wrong.  I can remember getting off of the free way exit for home and I broke down crying. 

When I got up on the 11th, I felt alright.  I was worried about my grandma and was going to call her in a bit.  I taught my son and stated making the cheese pie for our desert that we would be having on Saturday.  I felt no urgency and the thought of calling her was taken from my mind.  My older aunt couldn't get a hold of my grandma, so she called my mom.   After my mom got home from a doctors appointment, she tried to call my grandma and couldn't get an answer.  She told my dad she was going up there and she texted me the same thing.  I told her to keep me posted.  Well hours went by and I didn't hear anything, so I kept on texting my mom, and kept getting more and more worried and upset. 

Finally my mom answered and told me things were not okay.  I asked her if grandma needed to go the hospital and she wrote back that she needed to changed the locks.  It was in that moment that I completely lost it and screamed at God.  I knew my grandma was gone and I was so angry.  Surprisingly I didn't wake up my son or husband.  I just kept sobbing and sobbing.  I hurt so much, I had never felt pain like this.  My actual muscles and bones hurt.  It was a whole new experience for me and I hated it. 

My mom told me that she was on her way home and that she would be at my house in a bit.  I went and sat on my front porch, looking out at the stars, just praying that it wasn't true.  But I knew she was gone, I felt it and sucked so bad.  My mom finally got to my house and I fell into her arms sobbing.  She said that she had found my grandma on the floor and she looked so peaceful and happy.  My mom told me that her eyes were a crystal blue, and that she had been gone for a while.  We figured she must have died within a few minutes of hanging up the phone from my mom's youngest sister.  We talked for a bit and then my mom said she was going to go home. 

I came in and laid in bed.  I didn't really sleep, it was an empty black abyss.  My husbands alarm went off and as he was getting out of bed I told him what happened. Then my son got up and I told him we had to go to my mom's and he was all happy thinking that grandma was going to be there.  We got to my mom's and she told him about grandma and he started to cry.  It broke my heart.  Then the phone calls began, and everyone said they were on their way down.   My mom and I had to go back to my grandma's house to get the funeral papers.  It was a long drive up there, and I felt so empty.  I hated the feeling so bad. 

When we got to my grandma's house I was sobbing.  I walked in the door and she wasn't there in her chair waiting for me.  She wasn't anywhere and the sad part is my little boy asked where she was.  So I had to gently remind him that she wasn't there.  She was in heaven with grandpa.  Of course that got him going and stuff. 

The week that followed my grandma's death was empty.  I really didn't feel anything and when I would sleep it was nothing more than a black abyss.  I wrote a poem that I was reading at her funeral and I designed her funeral program cover.  She loved my photography and I found one of a sunrise over Lake Powell that I had taken the year before.  The day before her funeral, we had to stop off at the funeral home to deliver the balloon  my son and I had gotten for the funeral.  They had already brought my grandma up and asked if we wanted to see her.  My mom said yes, and so I went with her.  The one guy that worked there kept my son occupied by asking him Lego questions.  I fell apart seeing her in that coffin and I was so angry at her that she wasn't breathing.  We didn't stay long and went home. 

The day of the funeral came and it was snowing.  I thought it was very fitting for the day.  We arrived at the funeral home and went to the viewing.  Everyone had brought her Mother's Day cards and put them in her coffin with her and of course some goodies.  I was still upset at her for not waking up and taking a breath.  Just like my grandpa she wouldn't do it.  When it came time for the coffin to be closed it was horrible.  I lost it.  I tried not to watch but I couldn't help it, and hearing that click made me sob so hard.  The click of the coffin just signaled that it had truly happened and now there was no going back.  The funeral was nice and I was able to read my poem.  It was chilly at the graveyard, but we made it through it.  It was a nice funeral and it was very fitting for her.  I know that she is in a better place and that she was finally reunited with my grandpa after 14 years.  It must have been a truly glorious reunion.  Makes me wish that I could have seen it. 

My First Time Really Experiencing Grief

Sunday, October 15, 2017
Like I have said before I have experienced grief, but it was a child and didn't really bother me.  Yes, I missed those people, but it wasn't as bad as it was when I was as an adult.  I took death much better as a child, but as an adult it is so devastating.  It crushes your should and leaves you with this huge gaping hole in your heart that will never ever be healed. 

The first time that I really experienced grief is when my beloved grandfather died 15 years ago.  He was sick and was sent home to die.  It was the first time that I have really even seen someone who is dying and I found the whole experience horrifying.  Here was this man who survived being in World War 2, who has always been strong and independent and how he was so weak and couldn't do anything. 

I spent a lot of time up at my grandparents during those final times.  I can remember sitting at the table with my grandma and mom, while grandpa was in the hospital bed in the front room.  All of a sudden he started shrieking about people getting stuck in the wall, and puppies playing behind the chair.  It was scary for me and I didn't know what was going on.  My grandma and mom said that the veil was lifting so he was seeing loved ones and lost pets.  Put still to a young woman, it was very scary to see. 

I can remember the last words that were spoken.  I leaned in and kissed him on the cheek saying goodbye to him.  He looked at me and whispered goodbye brat.  I knew deep down inside that I was never going to see him again and that he was telling me goodbye.  Of course at the time, I was in denial and was just thinking he was telling me goodbye for the night. 

Two days later, I woke with a start and a great sadness came over me.  But the phone never rang, so I figured it was nothing.  Then the phone rang at noon and I knew who was on the other line and I knew exactly what was being said.  My mom told me that we had to go and I remember running up the stairs trying to convince myself that this wasn't happening that it was just a dream. 

We drove to my grandma's in silence and when I got there, she greeted us at the door.  She grabbed my shoulders and looked me in the eye saying that he isn't there anymore.  I just looked at her.  When I went in the house, I was looking for him and he wasn't there.  That was such an eerie feeling and I hated it.  She tried to feed us some soup, but all I did was stare at it like it would bite me. I finally said I would eat it later and went downstairs to play the Piano. 

The next few days of planning his funeral were a blur, I wrote a poem about him that I was reading at the funeral.   I remember the day of the funeral, these people were there, wandering around.  My grandma was up at the coffin and I approached her.  I remember staring into the coffin at my grandpa.  It looked like he was sleeping and I silently plead with him to wake up.  Sadly he didn't and the funeral progressed. 

A couple days after the funeral my grandma and I were driving into town.  She turned to me and asked me, "Do you think he is cold?"  I told her no, since he was buried in his heavy blue flannel shirt.  The next few weeks and months flew by in a blur.  I was so numb and hurting.  I really didn't understand the feelings that I had, and I just couldn't deal with them.  So I did the only reasonable thing I could do and I pretended that the whole thing never happened.   That he was just up north getting radiation.  This went on for months and it provided me a way to get through life.  I just couldn't face the feelings as they were so overwhelming.  A year to the date he had died, I was driving home.  I had stopped at a stop light and happened to glance to the top of it, and saw a beautiful white dove.  It was just looking down at me and I knew in that moment that I couldn't pretend anymore, that I had to start to move on with life and know that my grandpa was truly gone. 

It has been 15 years since he passed away and I still feel the pain every single day.  Some days it is so hard and other days it is a little easier.  I try to do things that I know he would be proud of and I named my son after him.  Which made my grandmother really happy.  I still cry over the loss and there are times when a memory will come that I will cry.  I still cry when I talk about him and truth be known I am crying as I write this. 

My History with Grief

Sunday, September 3, 2017
We have  all experienced grief st some point in our lives and depending on our age, the person and how well you knew the deceased can effect the way you grieve.   If you are not super close to a person, then chances are your grief might not run as deep as it would if someone super close to you passed away.  

My first experience with grief was in 1987 and I was about 6 years old.  My great aunt had passed away and I had only met her once.   So honestly it didn't bother me that she died.  My mom and grandma were super upset and my great grandmother was sad as it was her sister that passed.   I don't really remember my great aunt or the funeral.

My second experience was in 1991, when I was about 10 years old.  My cousin was brutally murdered on Fathers Day and that really sucked.   I want close to my cousin as he was 16, but my sister was super close to him.   I do remember running up the stairs screaming to my sister that he was dead.   For the viewing I stayed in the car and read a book.  I don't remember much about the funeral.  What I remember is the aftermath.   My whole world got turned upside down and I hated it. My grandparents stopped doing a lot of things.  There were no more 4th of July picnics.   No more fun BBQ in the summer or on a weekend.  As a kid that was hard as I loved those times together.   I blamed my cousin because my world changed and I didn't like it one bit.  

My third experience was a year later in 1992,  when I was about 11 years old.  My great grandmother passed away.   I was a little bothered by it, but not by much.   I don't remember much about it except that things were different and once again I didn't like it.

It took a while before things finally settled down and my family slowly started to do things again, but things were not the same.   Dealing with grief as child seemed to be so much easier than it is when I was an adult.

Stages of Grief

Sunday, August 27, 2017
Grief comes in stages and a lot of people will talk about the stages of grief.  Not everyone will experience every stage of grief.  Some might just experience one or two stages, while others will keeping going through the cycle.  Others seems to recover from grief much easier and faster, while others it may take years.  The most common stages of grief are, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Denial is considered the first stage of grief.  Denial helps us to be able to survive the loss.  In this stage, your world becomes meaningless and overwhelming.  Your life doesn't make sense anymore.  You have entered into a state of shock and denial.  You go numb, you wonder how you can go on, if you can go on and why should you want to go on.  You try to find a way to simply get through each day.  Denial and shock help you to be able to cope and make survival possible.  Denial helps you to pace your feelings of grief.  There is a grace in denial, as it is natures way of letting in only as much as you can handle.  As you begin to accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are beginning the healing process.  You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade.  But as you begin to proceed, just remember that all of the feelings you were denying will begin to surface.  

Anger is considered to be the second stage of grief.  Anger is considered to be a necessary stage of the healing process.  You need to be willing to feel your anger, even though ti may seem like it will never end.  The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and you can heal.  There are many emotions that are under the anger, and you will go through them all in time.  But anger is the is the emotion we are most used to being able to manage.  The honest truth is that anger has no limits.  It can extend to just your friends and family or beyond like to your doctor, yourself, your loved one who has died or even to God.  You may ask, "Where is God in all of this?"  Underneath all of that anger is your pain.  It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but you also live in a society that fears anger.  Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.  At first grief feels like you are lost at sea, having no connection to anything or anyone.  Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn't attend the funeral, a person who isn't around, a person who is different now that your loved one has died, or a complete stranger because they looked at you the wrong way.  Suddenly you have a structure, your anger towards them.  The anger becomes a bridge over the open seas, a connection from you to them.  It is something to hold onto; a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing at all.  You usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it.  Just remember the anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love you had for that person.  

Bargaining is considered to be the third stage of grief.  Sometimes you begin bargaining before someone has died, because they are ill.  You begin saying things like, "I'll be good, if you just let them live."  Though after loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce.  You may say things like, "What if I devote my life to helping others, and then I can wake up and this will have been nothing but a nightmare."  You become lost in a maze of if only or what if statements.  You want life to be returned to what it once was.  You want your loved one to be alive and well.  You want to be able to go back in tine to ensure the illness was spotted more quickly, to not leave them alone, to stay longer, or anything else.  Guilt is often bargaining companion, as the if only's and what ifs cause you to find the fault in yourself and you think that you could have done something differently to prevent your loved one from dying.  You may even bargain with the pain, that you would do anything not to feel the pain of your loss.  You remain in the past, trying to negotiate your way out of the hurt.   

Depression is considered to be the fourth stage of grief.  Once you are done with bargaining, you attention is moved into the present.  Empty feelings will begin to present themselves and grief will enter your life on a deeper level, deeper that you can ever imagine.  This depressive stage will feel as though it will last forever.  It is important to understand that this depression is not a sign of a mental illness.  This depression comes from the loss of a loved one.  It is the appropriate response to a great loss.  You will withdraw from life and be left in a fog of intense sadness, and wondering if there is any point in going on alone or why go on at all.  Depression after loss is too often seen as being unnatural: a state to be fixed or something you need to snap out of.  The first question that you should ask yourself is whether or not the situation you are in is actually depressing.  The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation and depression is a normal and very appropriate response.  To not experience depression  after a loved one dies would be unusual.  When the loss fully settles into your soul, the realization that you loved one didn't get better and is not coming back is understandably depressing.  If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.  

Acceptance is considered to be the fifth stage of grief.  Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being okay or all right with what has happened.  This is false.  Most people don't ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one.  This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing your new reality is permanent.  You will never ever like this reality or make it okay, but eventually you will have to accept it.  You will learn to live with it.  It is the new norm with which you must learn to live.  You must try to live now in a world where your loved one is missing.  In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one has died.  However in tie, you begin to realize that you cannot maintain the past intact.  It has been forever changed and you have to readjust.  You have to being to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on for yourself.  Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones.  As you begin to live again and enjoy your life, you will often feel that in doing so, you are betraying your loved one.  You can never replace what has been lost, but you can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies.  Instead of denying your feelings, you need to listen to your needs, you move, you change, you grow, you evolve.  You may start to reach out to others, and become involved in their lives.  you invest in your friendships and in your relationships.  You begin to live again, but you cannot do so until you have given grief its time.  

A thing to remember is that people will often think of the stages of grief lasting weeks or months.  They tend to forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes, or hours as you flip in and out of one and then onto another.  You do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion.  You may feel one, then another and then back again to the first one.  Just remember it is normal.  

Grieving is different at different ages

Sunday, August 20, 2017
When a person is grieving, there are age and emotional factors that influence a way a person will perceive death.  It is said that death doesn't effect children the way that it does an adult.  I'm not sure if that is true or not.  I think it depends on the child and their relationship to that adult.  

Children younger than 7, have the ability to perceive death as a kind of separation.  They may feel that they have been abandoned, and will show signs of being scared.  Sometimes young children will fear being alone or they don't want to leave people that they love.  Grieving young children, may not want to sleep along at night, they might refuse to go to daycare, to a babysitter or school.  Sometimes younger children have a hard time verbally expressing their feelings, or they are unable to.  Instead, they act out their feelings through behaviors, such as having trouble following directions, having a temper tantrum or meltdown, or they might struggle to play.  I have heard that if they are younger than the age of 2 when the loss occurs, they may refuse to speak.  Children between 2 and 5 may develop eating, sleeping or toileting and bed wetting problems.  
Children that are between 7 and 12, have the ability to perceive death as a threat to their own personal safety.  They tend to fear that they will die or that someone else they love will die.  They may try to protect themselves and others from death.  While some grieving children want to stay close to someone they think they can protect, others seem to withdraw, as they think it won't hurt as bad when that person dies.  Some kids behave well and don't seemed to be bothered by death.  Yet others can behave horribly.  They might have problems concentrating on schoolwork, following directions, and simply struggle to do daily tasks.  Children that are in this age group need to be reassured that they are not responsible for the death they are grieving for.  
Teens and adults perceive death alike.  Though a teenager might express their feelings in a dramatic or unexpected way.  They might join a religious group that defines death in such a way that it will calm their feelings.  They may try to defy death by participating in dangerous activities, like reckless driving.  Others may turn to smoking, drinking, doing drugs or having unprotected sex.  Like adults, teens will sometimes have suicidal thoughts while they are grieving.  
Just remember that everyone will experience grief they own way and in their own time.  Just be there for someone who is grieving.  Call them, send them a note or text, visit with them, take them out (if you can get them out).  

The Symptoms of Grief.

Sunday, August 13, 2017
You might think that all grief is crying, but you are wrong.  There are actually symptoms that a person has while they are grieving.  Not everyone who is grieving will have all of the symptoms, as we all grieve in our own way and it also depends on how grief will affect us.

Physical symptoms of grief:

  • Crying
  • Sighing
  • Headaches 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue,
  • Feelings of heaviness
  • Aches and pains.

Emotional symptoms of grief:
  • Sadness
  • Yearning
  • Worry
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Guilt 
Social symptoms of grief:
  • Detachment from others
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Withdrawn
  • Acting in ways that are not normal for you
Spiritual symptoms of grief:
  • Questioning your existence
  • Questioning the reason for your loss
  • Questioning the purpose of pain and suffering
  • Questioning the meaning of death and why it happens 
Grief has the ability to cause prolonged and serious symptoms, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and actions, physical illness and post traumatic stress disorder.  If you are having any of these symptoms, please talk to someone about it.  

What is Grief?

Sunday, August 6, 2017
Grief is a cruel thing that, we humans must face in our lifetimes.  Life would be so much better if there were no grief, but then if there was no grief, then there would be no joy.  Sadly grief and joy do go hand in hand at times.  I do not fully understand grief and why it has such a powerful hold on us.  It has the power to take even the strongest person and turn them into a puddle of mud.  It takes your heart and squeezes so hard that if feels as if it is shattering.  It makes life so difficult to live at times, and the thing is once you experience it, it never goes away.  There are times when you think all is well, and it comes slamming into you like a freight train, reminding you of what you have truly lost.

Grief is defined at a response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died and there was a bond or affection formed.  Yes people do grieve for their pets, but I'm not sure it is as deep as a grief as it would be for a family member.  I think that truly depends on the person and how close they were to the pet.  Some people are extremely close to their pets and treat them as they would a child, while others are like okay it is an animal how cute.

Grief is usually associated to an emotion response to loss, but it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, and philosophical dimensions.  Grief is a natural response to loss.  It is the emotional suffering one feels, when they have lost someone or something extremely important to them.  Most people experience grief when a loved one has died, but you can grieve in connection to a variety of losses throughout your life.  Those losses can be unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.  Loss can be either physical or abstract or both.  The physical loss is when you can no longer touch your loved one.  The abstract loss is related to the aspects of a person's social interactions, such as talking to them, or taking them somewhere.

Your experience with grief, will be different from another person's and remember that is okay.  We all grieve differently and we need to remember that.  Also, you might grieve somewhat differently each time you experience loss, as it depends on your relationship with that person and how close you were to them.

Just remember we all grieve, and it is normal to grieve.  There is no time period when one must be done grieving.  We all get through the grieving process differently, and truth be known, you will actually grieve forever, you just learn to live with it.