feelings and shit, things we think we know

The Amateur Adult’s Guide to Grief (Part I)

Just about a year ago, my grandfather died. 

It was incredibly unexpected and extremely difficult. Sure, he was aging, but he never seemed old. 

Look at these dancing fools.

He wasn’t the first person I had lost unexpectedly, my uncle died my junior year of college, which was an incredibly tragic loss. And almost exactly a year prior to my maternal grandfather passing, my paternal grandfather lost his battle with a long term illness. 

But after my Grampa died last March, I found myself struggling in a way I never really had before. I was sad, because I was missing this man who had meant so much to me. I was guilty, because I hadn’t felt like this when Grandfather passed away. I was apologetic because I didn’t think my grief was important. I was anxious because people would ask me how my mom or Gramma were doing and I really didn’t have an answer, I had been steadfastly avoiding the topic. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I sure as hell didn’t want to deal with it. 

So I stopped. I stopped talking to the people I loved. I stopped doing the things that reminded me of Grampa. I avoided my hometown, my voicemail, the boxes in storage at my in-laws. I threw myself in to hobbies that were inconsequential and I started talking to people who had no idea what my family was like. (Some of those people have been amazing, others turned out to be less so.) I worked. A LOT. 

As you can probably guess, none of this made my grief disappear. In fact, if you put together that I was fairly depressed, then you’re a lot smarter than I, dear reader. My husband, god bless him, tried. He asked me to work out with him (I didn’t, I ate chips). He asked me about this blog (I’d give a half hearted attempt at making a draft and then give up fairly quickly). He even encouraged me to SPEND MONEY (this is unheard of, and I didn’t even want to buy shoes [the very first time ever]). I kept assuring everyone that I was fine. 

Then a few months ago, we bought a house. I love our house, it’s awesome. We couldn’t be happier. But there is this janky path from our gate to our deck. And after we moved in, we were exploring (like you do), and we realized just how janky the path really is. My husband turned to me and said, ‘You know who could fix this? Grampa.’ At which point I promptly burst in to tears. 

See? Janky.

All of my bluster and denial had done nothing to help me process the grief I was feeling. Ignoring my parents, who were both struggling with the loss of their fathers wasn’t helping anyone. Avoiding people who were trying to be there for me was only sowing resentment on both sides of the fence. Basically, I was doing everything wrong and I didn’t know how to fix it. Oh, and did I mention we were coming up to the holidays? Also the people I thought were ‘helping’ turned out to cause more problems? Plus, change  (even the good kind) always causes me anxiety? And that doesn’t even include the election. 

This was the bottom. I was trying to put a good face on things, but it wasn’t working. It was time to change how I was handling my shit. 

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