My First Time Really Experiencing Grief

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. 


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