Let me begin by saying, I’ve probably gone to more funerals than weddings throughout my 23 years. Losing someone close to your heart is never easy. No matter how many times it’s happened, the pain still hurts the same.
My grandmother was the sweetest soul. She had a beautiful heart, an amazing sense of humor and would do anything for anyone. After my daddy passed away nine years ago, she always felt like she needed to feel a void. She would always do extra gestures to make me feel extra special. She supported my and my nine cousins’ every decision. Sometimes she’d tell you what she really thought about it, but she’d always have your back. She was Miss America.
My grandmother is the strongest, most influential woman that I’ll ever know. She fought MS and many kinds of cancer for many years without a single complaint. She always felt like a burden for those who took care of her but everyone that knew her, knew she would do the same for them if she could.
Grandmother passed away March 6, 2017. Like my cousin Robert said, I know that no one lives forever, but I never pictured life without her. As I have no choice but to deal with the pain, I want to share healthy ways to grieve the loss of a loved one.
Tell stories. This is honestly my favorite way to grieve (if you can even have a favorite way). Pull out some pictures and tell stories. Learn even more about the person you just lost. Recently, I went through pictures of Grandmother with my mom and we talked about my grandmothers obsession with Sun Valley Beach. It was also a tradition for my grandmother to take a picture in the snow while wearing a bathing suit. I knew it was a tradition but I don’t think I realized how many times she did it! This is something that keeps me laughing and remembering the good times instead of crying my eyes out which brings me to my next idea.
Remember that it’s okay to cry. I feel like people think it’s not okay to show emotion. When you lose someone that you love, it’s only human to cry about it. Don’t be ashamed, don’t get mad at yourself. It’s what your supposed to do. Do I love crying? No. Does anyone? I doubt it. But sometimes it feels good to let a good cry out.
Keep something of theirs and wear/use it. When I was really young, I visited the Amicalola Falls gift shop during a family reunion. While in there, I saw this necklace and wanted to give it to my grandmother. When I gave my grandmother this necklace, you would’ve thought I gave her diamonds. She wore that necklace for as long as I remember. Looking back at pictures, there was a really long time where I don’t think she even took it off. After her funeral, I asked to have it back. Another example of this idea is my dad’s motorcycle shirts. One year for Mother’s Day, my sister and I got my mom a t-shirt quilt made using all of my dad’s t-shirts. I use it regularly, and it’s my favorite blanket to get under. It tells a story of all the places he went and reminds me of who he was. As I wear my grandmothers necklace or get under the t-shirt quilt, I’m reminded of my grandmother and daddy’s spirit and I feel so much closer to them.
Keep traditions going. Ever since my grandmother’s passing, I have told myself that every snow that we get from now on, I will be taking a picture of me in my bathing suit and I will wear a smile like she did in every picture. This is only going to help me and the ones around me celebrate her life.
Remember that they are no longer suffering and are in a better place than we are. My grandmother was in pain for many years. I barely have memories of her walking without any problems. To know that she is walking and is free of pain is just one reason we should celebrate her life and not cry about her passing. It might be a long wait, but I know she will be the best guardian angel until I get to see her again.
Take the time you need. While my grandmother was in the hospital and later in hospice, I took the time to be with her. I left the office of my internship as soon as I got the call that she was back in the hospital for the second time that week and wanted to be with her whether she was awake or asleep. After her passing, I knew I needed to be with my family and the ones that love me. I took a few days off from responsibilities to grieve, cry and get it all back together. While I’m still not 100 percent “together,” I’m getting back in the groove of things and learning to not feel guilty about taking the time off to be with my grandmother those last few days.
If anyone reading this knows my grandmother, tell me your favorite memory of her. If you didn’t get the chance to know her, tell me how you handle the loss of a loved one (boy, would my family love to know)!