Thursday, 24 December 2020

Dealing with Greif


A couple of years back in 2017, I lost my grandad very suddenly to stage IV lung cancer. Looking back on my memories it really does seem like one moment he was here with us and then the next he was gone. Even though throughout my life I have lost people and family members, but never anybody that I was quite as close with and I have to admit that over the past 3 years, I have not dealt very well with my emotions and that is why I wanted to sit down today and write a blog post all about my experience with grief and how I am trying to move past this time in my life and hopefully help out other people if you are also going through something of a similar situation.


The relationship which I had with my grandfather was just incredible and it was unlike anything that I shared with other members of my family. We just got each other and from a very young age he was my best friend. I spent every single weekend with him, whether it was building something with him in the garden, plucking pheasants with him in the kitchen or watching football with him on a Sunday at the local park. He was just my pal and as I got older, he was the person that I leaned on for everything. During his last hours in hospital, he called me to him because he knew what was happening to him, but he was so worried about how hard I would take it compared to his own children and my cousins who were his other grandchildren. He passed away a couple of hours after our conversation and I just went numb.


We got a call at 6am the following morning to let us know that he had passed away and without even getting out of my pyjamas, I ran downstairs, grabbed my car keys and raced my way through the town in order to make my way to my nan. When I arrived, she was a broken woman and her heart was broken completely. I was still numb, and I didn’t feel a thing. I called the hospital to see what happened next and they said that he was in a private room still and we could go up to the hospital and say goodbye to him. My nan wanted to go with me because she knew what this was doing to me. My mum nor her siblings came with us because they could not bear to see their father like that, but I had to go with my nan. We made our way to the hospital and walking into the room was truly heart-breaking, but there was still nothing upsetting to me, I was still numb.


The next few hours went by in a blur really. It was a Thursday, so I called work and let them know I wouldn’t be in. I began calling family members to let them know that had happened, how it had happened and that we would contact them about funeral arrangements. I set into full business mode and I kept myself busy by doing all of the admin that I didn’t want my nan to have to do. I spoke to the bank, pension companies, his car insurance, literally everything that could ever upset my nan, I dealt with in a couple of hours. Even explaining to all of these companies and family members about his passing evoked no feelings for me and I was still in a state of shock and I was completely numb towards it. That night, my mum was going to stay with my nan to check that she was going to be ok and I headed home and slept from 4pm in the afternoon to 9am in the morning.


Not knowing what to do with myself the following day, I decided that I would just do what I would do on any other day and head into work. I got ready, got in my car and walked in and sat right at my desk. People were shocked to see me because they knew how close I was to my grandfather and that for me it was pretty much like I had just lost my own father, but I wanted to act like normal and get on with it because in my mind, there was no feelings or emotion there. I just wanted to get on with things. Only now, looking back do I realise how disrespectful this must have been to the other members of my family that I was just getting on with things like nothing had happened, but now I only realise that it was only because I was feeling things on such a deep and dark level, that there was no way to process my emotions in a normal way.


Even at the funeral, I felt nothing. I was a very cold and distant person for the longest time and I was willing myself just to take some time and grief for this man that I adored so wholeheartedly, but there was nothing inside me that could do it. The straw that finally broke the camels back was one day when I dropped one of my mugs from the White Company on my kitchen tiles and it smashed on the floor. My husband found me on the floor crying and it lasted for almost 2 days. The grief took over and I lost myself completely for weeks on end in an endless cycle of sadness, regret for not mourning his loss sooner and jubilation that I was the one that had so many wonderful memories with this man.


The reason why I wanted to write this blog post is because I think that in this day and age we are all so busy and we are told and taught not to get upset and to have a tough upper lip. I should have used the time following my grandfathers death to process everything that as happy, allow myself to wallow and be sad and not supress everything that was happening and pushing it down until I reached breaking point. Nobody teaches you about these things when you are growing up and what will happen when one of these devastating things happens, but my advice is just to take some time.


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