Please excuse me readers whilst I defer from my usual type of blog post. A few weeks ago I suffered a loss in my family and it affected me in a way I wasn’t expecting and like all things that affect me, I felt a need to write about it.
On Saturday 9th July at 3.45am, my grandmother died. A nurse at the hospital was with her holding her hand as she took her final breath. I arrived with members of my family 3 minutes later. She had been going rapidly downhill since Monday. My mum drove to Norfolk from London to help my grandpa look after her. By Thursday she was calling me telling me I needed to go up. It was that evening that would be the last time she opened her eyes. Friday she was unconscious and by Saturday she had gone.
She was an incredible woman. She survived breast cancer, 4 hip replacements, 2 knee replacements and she became the oldest woman in the UK to have a cochlear ear implant to help with her deafness. She was also living with a slow growing lymphoma. My grandma was my hero, she still is. Just because she’s gone does not make her any less of a hero.
I didn’t deal with the grief very well in the aftermath. But then I don’t know that there is even a good way to deal with grief. I suppose it hits people in different ways and everyone has their own experiences. My grandma’s death hit me harder than I thought it would. I know she was ill and she was in a better place, I am glad she was no longer suffering and the last part did not drag on. She had told my mum earlier that week that she was ready to go, she knew it was her time. However, it was hard for me to accept this. I was extremely close to my grandma and now she had passed and life was different.
She was the woman who made us chocolate cupcakes and shortbread and taught me to make her mince pies with the very frustrating homemade pastry. She was the one who sung ditties at the kitchen sink. She was the one who I confided in when I realised my body was changing and I was going through puberty. She was the one who when she hugged you, you would feel safe, like nothing else in the world mattered at that very minute. She was the one whose face would light up whenever one of her beloved family or friends walked into the room. She had so much love to give and all she asked is that you loved her back.
So how was I supposed to deal with the fact that she was gone? Her funeral couldn’t be scheduled until 3 and a half weeks after her death. This made it harder. I wanted to grieve but we still had to overcome the hurdle of her funeral. I cried over everything and nothing. The slightest thing set me off. One minute I would be laughing and the next minute I was in floods of tears. I found it difficult to accept that she wasn’t coming back.
The other hard thing was my grandpa. They had been married 70 years. It would have been 71 in September. Apart from the last 18 months where they had both had lengthy stays in hospital for one reason or another, they barely had a night where they weren’t together. Grandpa loved her furiously and she loved him. After we gathered at my grandparents house in the afternoon on the Saturday my grandpa turned to me and asked “they do make meals for one right?” I had to leave the room.
It was the funeral that seemed to bring a sense of closure for me as many people had said it would. The church was packed, there were over 100 in attendance. I walked in with my cousins and brother and we supported each other. My mum and uncle read a beautiful eulogy and then we left the church to the sound of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”, my grandmas request.
The next day I woke up having had the best nights sleep I had had in ages. I felt strangely peaceful. But then my peace turned into worry. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t sad, I was empty. Over the next week or so I didn’t cry once. I was horrified at myself. This wasn’t the way people in mourning were supposed to be. What if I couldn’t cry over it again? What if I had just accepted she had gone and gotten over it. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be able to mourn her. I wanted to properly grieve my grandma but there was just nothing. I threw myself into work and the gym and got on with life as if nothing had ever happened.
About 10 days after the funeral I jetted off with my partner on holiday. I was on the plane listening to music, happy at the thought of sun and relaxation and I suddenly started crying. And not the welling up but nothing coming out tears, no I had properly fully formed droplets streaming down my face. It was then I realised how true the quote about grief being like waves is. The grief comes and goes when you least expect it to. And there will be days that all you want to do is curl up in bed and there will be days where everything is fine and there will also be all the days in between. And all of these are fine. And if you don’t experience some of these that’s fine also. There is no proper way to grieve. There is no correct way and by the book way. Tears may not need to come, tears may need to rule your life. But however you grieve, whatever way it comes to you, allow it. Allow it to be what it is, grief. It is your right to be able to grieve for the loss of a loved one. They were a part of your life and there absence will change your life. So allow yourself to embrace that.
There are days I still think she’s here. I’ll think of something I would like to have told her or something I would like to have shown her. I’ll see someone else with their grandmother and think that I need to write to her or see her and then realise that I can’t. I hate that she won’t be around to see me walk down the aisle or to coo over my children as I know she would have loved. I hope one day I can reconnect with her in my heart. I hope I will be able to hear her voice coming through to me. I will make sure to show her the pictures of my life so that she doesn’t miss out.