Navigating Grief.

How do you begin to navigate through grief, especially in the early stages and when experiencing it for the first time?

How do you begin to navigate through grief, especially in the early stages and when experiencing it for the first time?

As you all will know I’ve been dealing with a significant amount of grief lately. I began writing this after my grandfather passed, and only decided to finish it off after granny was buried. It’s been difficult to come to terms with and there were points during the writing of this that I had to stop, save it and leave. Although talking about it helps, often it leaves us exhausted and reliving the emotions and memories of their deaths and subsequent burials.

I want to apologise in advance and warn you that this is a tear-jerker. It’s not so much informative as it is reflective on the current situation. Never the less I hope you find it useful at the very least.

The first thing I want to say is;

Grief is a funny thing.

It comes in a sequence of unpredictable waves. Somedays I openly talk to my grandmother while working around the house. I’m energized and feel fine. Other days I wake up exhausted, going through life in a daze. I lift the phone to ring her before realising that no one is going to answer. It’s brutal but a necessary part of grieving.

No matter how you’re grieving, someone else will always be doing it differently.

Everyone experiences grief at both a different level and in a different way, and I want to take this opportunity to remind you that your feelings are valid no matter how you choose to express them.

Your Feelings Are Valid.

This year has been a roller coaster. In the space of six months, I lost not only my grandfather but also my grandmother, both of whom played a big roll in my life growing up. I went from having four grandparents to having just two in the first half of the year alone. Before then I had only experienced intense grief a few times in my life, one of which was the loss of our family pet.

There comes a point where you begin to take those around you for granted. They’ve always been there, so surely they’ll always be there, right? Although I knew death was a reality that we all had to face one day, I hadn’t expected it so soon. Especially not for my grandfather.

Their illnesses were simultaneously long and brief if that’s at all possible. Watching them die was agonizing.

Every fiber in your body screams at you that this isn’t human. It’s not fair! Yet there’s nothing we can do to help them.

Towards the end, not even the strongest syringe driver (my grandfather ended up with two) was able to relieve their pain. Then the rattle starts and just when you think that’s it, their heart marches on. Until it doesn’t anymore. Their breathing slows, then stops and you hold your own breath waiting for their next. When it doesn’t come, your heart plummets into your gut and you begin to wonder how you’ll ever get over this.

One thing I don’t see a lot of people talk about is the feeling of relief coupled with intense guilt. Anyone who has ever watched a loved one die will understand exactly what I mean when I talk about relief and the guilt that seems to follow. You’re relieved that they’re no longer suffering, not that they’re dead, but your mind can’t quite focus to separate the two. This has personally drove me into a negative thought pattern that goes something like this;

“Why don’t I feel more upset about this? Did I not care enough? Why was I relieved when they died? Did I not want them here? Was their dying an inconvenience to me and my recovery?”

Of course, these thoughts are purely my brain struggling to understand my own grief, and entirely false. Of course I cared! I grieved from the moment I found out about their illnesses and I’m still grieving. My grief has just been manifested in a different way and spread out over a longer period of time.

Everyone grieves differently. There is no linear path to take when grieving and that’s entirely normal.

Nothing ever prepares you for losing a loved one, and I imagine that nothing ever will. Even though you may have lost others before, each loss is experienced differently. You go through different stages in your mind, body, and soul, and the night my grandfather died I felt a pain like I had never felt before.

As we stood around his bed my eldest cousin whispered;

When he died, he took a part of my heart with him.

This statement holds so much truth, and it’s only after you lose someone that you realise just how true it is. The day my grandfather died I felt a part of me change but my heart remained in fairly in tac. However, the dame can’t be said for my grandmother’s passing. That day I felt a part of my heart shatter into a million little pieces, and I have no doubt that she collected those little pieces as a memento. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. She took a part of me with her, and I am eternally grateful for that.

As previously mentioned, I realise this post is largely discussing how I’m coping and my personal experience with grief. There’s very little advice here, only a raw expression of feelings, and this is because I felt it was time for me to address this both publically and completely.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Apologies for any tears you may have shed.

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  1. There is no time scale or time limit on grief.
    I am so thankful that you are recognising when your thoughts are going down untrue and unhelpful paths and redirecting them. <3

  2. I’m so sorry about your grandfather and your grandmother. I can’t imagine the pain you went through this year and my heart goes out to you. Grief is so personal and it’s not exactly how they mention in the five stages of grief. You do what you can to get though it and keep on living. Thank you for writing such an honest post. I really did have tears in my eyes reading it. Take care of yourself during this time. I’ll be thinking of you xo

    Emily |

  3. Beautifully written. Grief is different for everyone and we react & deal with grief in our own way. Loss is so hard and your mind can play weird games with your thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing something so raw, personal and relatable.

  4. I’m sorry for your loss! It’s hard to experience the death of two family members so close together. Yes it’s a different process for each person. Honor yourself and your loved ones in your unique way.

  5. Thank you so much for your kind words, and thank you for taking the time to read this. It was quite difficult to write at times but I suppose that’s natural. I will need to go back and fix some mistakes at some point, but I just haven’t had the heart. xx

  6. I am so, so sorry for the loss of your husband. That couldn’t have been easy. Grief is an awful but necessary thing in order to begin to come to terms with loss. Sending you all my love and thank you so much for stopping in and reading.

  7. Grief is very personal to everyone, so to scorn anyone for how they grieve wouldn’t be right. Everyone within my family is getting it differently. Some are angry, some are sad and some are just blank. I suppose it will take time to heal, but I suspect it’ll never get easier losing someone. Thank you for stopping in and reading.

  8. Thank you so much for stopping in and commenting. It’s never easier, and I suspect it will never get easier. Time only teaches us how to heal, it never takes it all away.

  9. Wow. This post is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. My grandfather died when I was 9 which was 9 years ago, but I still miss him everyday. I will never stop missing him. Same goes for my honorary grandmother (my cousin’s grandmother on his dad’s side, but she always treated me like her grandson) and a good friend of mine which have both passed in the past 2 years. It is never easy dealing with grief, but it is slightly easier when you have supportive friends and ways/a routine to cope with it.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing – because I know that grieving for my grandma was so different from the celebration of life that we had for my grandad, who died about 20 years after her! Hers was heartbreaking – we were only just starting to build relationships with her. We got an extra 20 years with him, and when he died, it was just a sense of joy for the life he’d had.
    Each grieving process is different.
    There is no “right way” to do it.

  11. This post is powerful!! So well written. I love the part about everyone’s grief being different. So important to remember that.

  12. Awesome post! I know a little about grief, having lost my husband very suddenly 2 months ago. I am also familiar with the unpredictable waves of emotion – one minute you’re fine, the next you feel like it just happened and you never know when it will hit or what will set it off. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry for your loss.

  13. Let me start by saying that I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.
    This post is so very powerful and moving. Even though everyone grieves differently, your account is incredibly relatable. I found myself nodding along thinking “Yes. I felt like that too!”.

    Thank you for sharing this, I know it must have been incredibly difficult to write.

    Louisa |

  14. I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a love one is extremely difficult. When my stepdad passed away, my grandpa passed away only five months later and then grandma a year after that. So I can completely relate. Thanks you so much for sharing. I’m sure that you make your family proud everyday.

  15. Thank you for reading. You’re certainly right about grieving differently, that much is evident in the various members of my family. We’re all going through the wars but in completely different ways.

  16. Love how open you are about grief. I know how difficult it is to open up about, especially early on.
    One thing I have learned over the past couple of years is that everyone does grieve differently. Some wear it on their sleeves while others keep it hidden. My hope is that we are starting to be more open about grief. We will all go through it at some point and it really never goes away.

  17. Grief can be very tough to go through. You are so correct when you metnion that everyone goes throught it differently. We all need to make sure we don’t judge others in how they cope.

  18. Very nicely written – our family has just experienced the loss of our grandmother and you captured the sentiments whirling around perfectly. I’m sorry for your loss as well.

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