I recently lost my Grams—that’s my grandma to those outside the family. I did not lose her in a supermarket or a bustling city, I lost her from this earth. She died, peacefully at 85, and I am grieving. My mum is grieving. My family has lost its matriarch.
Death is not new to me and I have grieved for lost friends and relatives over the years. Death is indeed not new to many people. Its inevitability and mystery are what make it one of life’s great intrigues.
Every time death comes knocking it triggers an implosion in my mind where I question life itself, and—in the grand scheme of things—our inconceivably short time on earth.
For all those who have lost, I hope what I write will comfort you. Whilst we all grieve differently and no situation is the same, know that you are not alone.
What is grief? How do we move forward when life as we know it will never be the same?
This year has been unprecedented. As a human race we have dealt with a global pandemic, whilst life carries on “life-ing” around us. Everything is different, but everything is the same.
To grieve from afar, and away from my family, the people who knew Grams as well as I did has been hard. A funeral with no hugs went against every instinct.
I have been lucky to have support, and amongst everything, this is one of the blessings. My partner, my friends, and my colleagues have been fantastic. I am so grateful.
Some days I cannot believe she has gone. Other days I am relieved she is no longer suffering. What a voyage of emotions.
I keep telling myself there is no right or wrong way to feel. Taking each day as it comes is enough.
It feels like there is a big hole, a Grams size void in my life. When I think about it too much, I get that burnie feeling in my heart and my tummy trips.
The realisation comes in waves.
I realise I will not see her again for a cup of tea. I realise mum doesn’t have her best mate anymore. And I realise that her experiences of an era exist now only in the stories that were passed down to us.
My brain frantically tries to process and bank all the memories I have of her, big and small.
Once the immediate grieving is over, I know it won’t be as black and white as move on, or else choose to sink into a pit of sorrow.
I will have moments where I get upset, where I feel sad, where I feel down, and when it all becomes hard to accept. But I know that Grams lives on in me. I have so many things to be grateful for, including life itself.
I want to do things that make me happy, and in that moment of happiness, I will think of Grams in all her beauty.
My grief is a big wave, which now and again thumps me off my surfboard. I always get back on, but sometimes it is a slow flail rather than a perky spring. Occasionally I decide instead to swim with it to the shore, grab a warm towel, a hot chocolate, and hug myself.
I’m working through my grief by spending time in nature and allowing myself space to think. Taking time for myself has been important. As has the outdoors and fresh air, allowing me to acknowledge that the world carries on.
Feeling the sun on my face and greeting little robins that sit next to me on park benches have been therapy for my soul. Talking about grief with people (when I feel like it), particularly those who can relate in some way offers comfort. As does a funny film, exercise, and my writing.
I’ve tried not to overthink or plan too much. I’ve also tried not to give myself a hard time—it’s okay to laugh and not feel sad 24/7.
To heal is a journey in itself. Self-care and the prioritisation of your health and wellbeing will be fundamental to this.
To those reading this, particularly those grieving- I send you a huge virtual hug.
I promise you; you are not alone. Take the time you need. Talk or don’t talk. Cry or don’t cry.
But most of all, be kind to yourself.
Your grief will be your grief and no one else’s.
Seek help if you need it and look for comfort and joy in everyday moments.