What They Don’t Tell You About Grief

On April 6, 2019, my grandmother passed away. It’s the first loss I have ever experienced and nothing could have ever prepared me for grief.

She wasn’t just my grandmother, she was my other half, my role model and my best friend. I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. Inseparable at the hip from the day I was born, each day is an adjustment without her. A cruel reminder of the void she left behind.

There are days where I retreat into my shell, overcome with grief but there’s also beauty in the lessons it taught me about life and love.

Grief is the ninja of emotions.

Nowhere is off-limits. Grief will deliver a blow to the stomach when you’re on the way to work, whilst you cook, reading a book, surrounded by your friends, even on a date. Anytime, anywhere and it’s terrifying.

It can lead to serious social anxiety.

When someone so close to you dies, it’s hard to wrap your head around day-to-day life. Losing my gran sent me in shutdown mode. I spent six weeks moving from my bed to the couch, and back to bed. The anxiety was crippling, the pain was constant and I needed my own time to accept that she was really gone. Over the weeks, I stopped replying to my friends, snapped at my family and ate my body weight in sugar and carbs.

As I started to come to terms with my grief, I opened up again – reminding myself that it’s ok to have these heavy conversations. The right people will listen. The right people will stay.

You won’t cry every day and that’s ok.

I used to have this pre-conceived idea that I would spend a month crying after my gran passed away. But I didn’t. Some days I just feel numb, and block it out, other days I cry uncontrollably but for the most part, I relish in her memory and find joy in the things that remind me of her.

People will respond inappropriately.

Brace yourself for “well, at least they didn’t suffer,” or “they lived a long life.” My personal favourite is when people try to compare their loss against mine. There’s nothing to compare, we’re both hurting and while the circumstances may be different, no loss is superior.

It speaks volumes of our discomfort around the topic of death that people come out with such bizarre things to say.

It doesn’t go away. 

There’s the initial grief, but there’s no finality to it. You carry it with you every day. With time you adapt to function, but missing them is something you might never get used to. 

Grief will change you.

Like any trauma, grief will break you before it shapes you. You have to hit rock bottom, to truly feel a zest for life again.

Grief is, unfortunately, never-ending. It’s been six months since my gran died and I can’t say it’s gotten easier. I recently burst into tears having dinner with one of my friends and I didn’t’ have to explain myself. More often than not, I’ll have death-related nightmares. So I could say that some days it actually feels tougher, and that’s OK – because I’m being honest.

What I can say, is that grief has allowed me to say yes to more opportunities. I’m open to new people. I dream bigger and I have the drive to be better. And there’s something really exciting about that.

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