This is going to be a little different from the other posts I’ve published so far. This is a very personal post to write, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to publish it. But a few friends have mentioned that I should write a post about loss, and I’ve decided to try. I’m not particularly good at sharing when it comes to grief or sadness. I tend to shut down and pretend that I’m “okay” to everyone. But I think it is very important to be able to look someone in the eyes and say “I’m not okay.”
My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago, and her death affected me a lot more than I expected. Although her death was anticipated, the news really distracted me from everything else for a bit. I missed a few days of work, I missed school, I didn’t go to yoga. I missed more work and school for the out-of-town funeral and visitation last week. I stopped writing posts for my blog. I lost a lot of motivation to continue on with this blog, school, work, and exercising. After the funeral, all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. But, with the help of my friends and family, I picked myself up and kept going. I went for a few runs last week and it was really helpful to be able to sweat out my stress and my grief. I tried talking to my grandmother while I was running, and that helped too.
These past few weeks have made me realize just how much of a support system I have. In the past, I’ve avoided telling friends and coworkers when I’ve been dealing with loss. But this time I needed to tell my managers and teachers that I would be out of town for her funeral. They were all so incredibly sympathetic and supportive, and it helped me feel validated in my sadness. She was my grandmother, but I wasn’t incredibly close to her. She was always there for big events in my life, for every Christmas, but I didn’t see her much more than a few times a year. I felt like I was too sad about losing her (as if that is a thing) and having other people give me their sympathies helped me feel like it was okay for me to be as sad as I was. I started mentioning to friends that my grandmother had passed away, and I was touched by their love and support. In the future, I am going to make sure to tell at least a few friends about what I’m going through to help myself work through it.
I feel like I’ve known a lot of people who have passed away. I don’t know if that’s something that everyone feels at one point or another, but sometimes I feel like I’ve handled a lot of loss for only being in my early 20’s. But each experience has been unique and helped me learn more about myself. In general, I believe that everything happens for a reason. But that is a very very hard mantra to maintain when someone is taken from you when they are still relatively young.
In 2009, when I was in eighth grade, my school had to deal with such a loss. One of the girls who I went to school with, who I had known almost my entire life, was murdered when she was only 13. This experience was unique for me because the entire school was brought together in grief. The first week after she was killed was very emotional, but everyone at school was going through a similar experience. It was very special to be surrounded by hundreds of people grieving together, supporting each other. It was a really difficult time for many of us, including myself and my sister, but it was so helpful to be able to share that experience with everyone at school.
During my second year of college, one of my friends from high school passed away. This time I wasn’t surrounded by people who were grieving like I was. My family knew, and my boyfriend Trent knew because he was also one of Tyler’s friends. But I didn’t tell anyone else. I didn’t tell any of my college friends, I didn’t tell my roommates, and I didn’t tell my best friend who went to a different school. I wish I had mentioned it to people, talked about it a little bit with someone. I remember feeling very isolated in my grief. I would think “Tyler is actually dead” during work or class and then just immediately have to hold back a wave of tears. I felt a lot of complicated emotions after his death, including grief, guilt, regret, and heartache. Two and a half years later I am still struggling with my emotions over his death. Talking about his death with my family, Trent, my friends, and Tyler’s mom has helped me so much as I work towards letting go and moving on.
Everyone has their own losses to grieve, and everyone grieves in different ways. Some people want to talk about it with anyone who will listen to sort out their thoughts on their emotions and the reality of what has happened. Some people need to be alone for a while to sort through things on their own. Writing in a journal or writing letters to your loved one can be really helpful when you are coping with loss. I do this quite a bit, and it really does help. I was planning to share a bit from one of my letters, but after I typed it out I realized that it’s too personal. I’m not ready for that yet. But I am ready to share this post with anyone who reads it, and I welcome any stories you would like to share about dealing with loss and grief.
In loving memory: Grandma Margaret, Grandpa, Granddaddy, Uncle Pat, Uncle Jerry, Bonnie, Alice, Esme, Tyler, and Pearl the cat.
So today marks my seventeenth day as a resident of the great country of Ireland…11 April 2017