This day, last year, I woke up to the news that my Grandad, my paternal figure for many years, had passed on into the next life. I was grateful in a way that I had woke up to the news. I don’t think I could handle having to be half way through the day and learning of something so dreadful, but regardless I will never forget the primary feelings of grief. My knees felt like they were turning to dust as suddenly no bones in my body felt solid, I just felt like my soul had left my body and was looking at a shell of myself. I didn’t know what to do, what to say, or where to go next. When somebody dies, you have to adjust around their absence, and this was incredibly difficult to do when 1. He was your Grandfather and 2. He lived next door and you were so close to him. I felt so conflicted with how I felt; I was happy he wasn’t in pain anymore; grateful he was at peace; angry with the circumstances at which led to his demise and so terribly upset that he wasn’t going to be around anymore. He was always there. When I was a baby, I lived with my Grandparents for four years, saw them frequently until I was nine when we moved opposite them, then when I was thirteen we moved next door to each other.
Although he had been suffering from illnesses in the past and wasn’t very mobile due to these, he was such a big personality. He was mischevious and always smirking- pulling somebody’s leg when he wasn’t in a grump. He had his little phrases that my family will carry on, probably for generations, and that will be his legacy. He loved having a ‘sing song’ as he called it, and I’m so grateful for the fact my last physical memory of him is him singing to me ‘goodbye my lovely’ from his hospital bed. I don’t think I could ask for a more positive and touching goodbye, that emulates who he was and how our Grandad/Grandaughter relationship was.
At first, I felt like I couldn’t mourn. I was upset, but I couldn’t recognize his loss because there were obstacles in the way regarding his treatment and the way in which he was cared for leading up to his death. This just resulted in so much anger, pain and internalized hatred towards so many things, and I went to meetings, read over the notes and had to re-live the horrendous treatment in which he went through. But, I wanted peace for not only him, but for my family. And family is another stage of grief I think- being his Granddaugher I felt less entitled to mourn him or be as upset as my Nan, or his children and for a long time, I didn’t express how deeply in pain I was because of his death. I tried to distract myself, bury It where it couldn’t be found and I tried to throw myself into a job to keep busy. But I just felt like a child again, watching all the adults in a situation I couldn’t help with or get involved with, I just felt utterly low and utterly out of body, as I watched everyone around me get organised for the funeral and reminisce on times from their childhood with him, while I tried to keep it all in because I didn’t feel as entitled to be upset as the others. That being said, I felt like I had to look after them all the best I could and my Nan became my new priority. The thought of her on her own absolutely broke my heart as her and my Grandad were such a solid unit for so many years, that I couldn’t bare to think of her grief or even imagine it. After the funeral, I felt less frustrated and realised everyone is just going to have to lean on each other to get through and that’s okay- sometimes you can ask for help and support, and sometimes that is just what you need.
Death isn’t just losing someone, it’s adjusting and adapting whilst realizing all these new emotions you may not have witnessed before. It’s finding new priorities amongst the chaos and trying to process pain when you feel you may not be able to express it. It’s realizing everyone is entitled to feel what they feel, and it really hurts, when you do feel it. It’s walking into the same room you’ve walked into for years, only to find a vacant chair when your loved one used to sit, but it’s rebuilding the memories around that object and always paying tribute to the special person.
A year on, it becomes more fluid because you’ve adapted to them not being there anymore, but it DOES NOT get easier. People say it does, it doesn’t, it just becomes your nature and what you’ve adapted to. But you feel it every day, in your heart, when you think of a memory, even in your characteristics you will say something and it will remind you of them and at first- that stings. But a year on, it’s comforting and it’s a blanket you wrap up in. I miss my Grandad so very dearly, but wherever he is now, I am so proud of him.