Grieving is a process that most will either have gone through or will one day have to go through. It’s not an easy process. Whether it’s the grief of someone who is still alive or someone who isn’t. It is heart-breaking, draining and possibly the rawest feeling in all of human life. Let me share my experience with you.
This year I grieved my grandmother. It’s been nine months and let me tell you – time isn’t always a healer. And that’s okay. There is an opinion that you just need ‘time to grieve’ but how much time is enough? Personally, I believe this grief will last my lifetime.
She wasn’t just a gran but my mother figure, my best friend, my Nano and ultimately my home. As a person who hates physical touch, I loved her hugs and resting my head on her lap. We would spend all night talking about anything and everything. She taught me my mother tongue. She would cook me my favourite foods with her warm granny magic. She was my ultimate protector never allowing anyone or anything to hurt me. She was beautiful with perfect skin, and plump rosy cheeks, which were evident when she laughed contagiously (which would also leave you in stitches). Although it wasn’t just her appearance. She was full of love and loyalty doing anything in her power for her family. She was popular too, taking phone calls like the most important person in the world.
We lost her twice. She was diagnosed with dementia, and this is when I learnt you can grieve a person who is still alive. And then we lost her again when she died. Merely a year after the death of my grandad.
Grief leads to regrets. Why did I not spend enough time with her? Why was I so caught up in my own life? My heart aches at the thought of me rejecting her invitation to spend the night at hers. The list of regrets goes on and on and eventually drives you insane.
But a lesson here is you are human, and humans are not perfect. You cannot live in regret. Instead, remember the good times for these are the most important. For me, I remember the times I did spend the night and she would let me sleep in till mid-afternoon. The time we flew to America, just us two to visit my cousins in Michigan. When she would pick me up from nursery and I would beam with excitement just at the sight of her. When I would have nightmares as a child, she would hold me till I stopped crying. When I was sick and off school, she spent the day looking after me.
Grief will change your life forever. There are two versions of yourself – the you before they died, and the you after. It’s perfectly okay to not be the exact same person before it happened. Trauma changes a person.
Grief is a solo journey. Yes, of course, there is support you can benefit from. I opted for counselling. I find talking to a stranger is always easier than talking to someone you know. But grief is something that is unique to you. Your way of dealing with it is different to your family’s or friends. They might be criers and you might not be. That is indeed the case for me. I don’t show much emotion to people, my grief is private and that’s okay. On the other hand, if you do show emotion, that’s okay as well. It is your journey and however you choose to grieve is valid.
Grief hits harder some days than others. One day you’ll be absolutely fine and then the next you find yourself in an unexplainable sadness. I was walking to get a haircut when I found myself taking a detour to pass my grandparent’s old house a five-minute walk away from mine. As I walked past, I reminisced all the memories and that day ended up being a lot harder than the one before. For many it might be a random outburst of grief and if that’s the case take some time to stop what you’re doing and breathe.
Grief can be extremely lonely. Yes, you may have wonderful family and friends. Yes, you can seek help from trained professionals. But nothing will fill the void of that person you lost. And to this, I say remember them with all your might. Use the things they left for you. Live in a manner where you know they would be proud of you. Speak about them. If you’re religious, speak to God about them. And if you’re not, speak to a stranger about them. Because let me tell you, this keeps them alive in your heart forever.
Grief affects you physically, as well as mentally and emotionally. When my gran died at first, I was in shock. This led to sadness and anger affecting me mentally and emotionally. I was in the second semester of my third year of university, and I could not bring myself to care. I didn’t attend classes, I missed assignments, and stopped going to the gym – these were the physical effects of the grief I was feeling. It’s okay to not be physically okay.
Your body reacts to situations and trauma in all sorts of ways. But it is extremely important to seek help when you notice yourself getting worse. When I reached out to my university for help, my physical health became a lot better and I was able to get through the semester. Use the help that is out there, no matter what state you’re in. Trust me when I say it will make a difference.
Grief is a rollercoaster. It is not a straight line to recovery but rather a never-ending process. That is not to say you will never feel better, you will. But it’s to reiterate that it’s okay to not feel okay. I hope that by sharing my experience with grief I was able to relate to you or help you in some way or another.
My number one piece of advice to you is although they may not be here physically you can keep their legacy alive. You can cook their favourite foods. You can wear their clothes or use their beloved fine china sets. You can frame their picture and keep it on your study desk. You can pray for them. You can pass down stories that they passed down to you. You can share your favourite memories you have of them. You can live a life they would’ve wanted you to. You can still make them proud.
Featured Image Credit: She Knows