This is the first guest post I have featured on my blog and it seems right it’s written by one of my greatest supporters, my daughter Lindsay. This post reminds me that my losses are her losses as well. That’s what family and friends do, they share life’s joys and sorrows. Lindsay has her own successful dog business (guess she got that “dog gene” too!) and writes a fantastic blog about dogs (and cats) called ThatMutt: A Dog Blog. If you have an “animal issue” (or just like reading about them) be sure to check it out. Today Lindsay is sharing thoughts about losing two of her grandparents. Once again, it raises the question, why does it seem unacceptable in our society to grieve? I hope you enjoy reading about loss from her perspective and leave lots of comments!
We never stop missing our grandparents, even when we become grandparents and great-grandparents ourselves. Missing them is something that never ends. I lost my grandma to breast cancer almost three years ago, and I am still grieving. I am 27 now, and I will be grieving, I imagine, for a very long time.
In 12th grade I wrote an essay about my grandma where I described all of our similarities. We are both dog lovers, I pointed out. We love movies. We love Christmas and sweets and traveling. But these aren’t the things I remember about her now.
I remember how her feet couldn’t quite reach the floor when she sat in her rocking chair. I remember how she described me as beautiful, like a movie star. I remember how she used to hold my hand (before she was sick), and how I’d sit there and think, can I let go, yet? I remember how she attended one of my college rugby games, all bundled up on one of the coldest fall days. I remember how no matter what I did, she was extremely, genuinely proud.
By age 27 most of us have lost a grandparent if we were lucky enough to know them. But no matter how old we are when we lose a grandparent, we aren’t expected to grieve for very long. Not visibly, at least. That’s what society tells us, even though we are all hiding from some amount of pain. If we are uncomfortable grieving lost grandparents – something most of us have experienced – there must be something lacking.
What I’m finding is that as a culture, we don’t know how to grieve.
Likewise, we don’t know how to help others grieve. I’m not sure if it’s because we feel ashamed to show emotions or because our lives revolve around superficial work or because technology causes a great disconnection. I think sometimes we keep our lives jam-packed on purpose. It helps us avoid closeness. It covers up vulnerabilities. I hide from pain just like everyone else.
One of my most embarrassing moments was the Monday after my golden retriever died. It had been an especially hard weekend of course, but I found no reason to take the day off. Life goes on, right? My boss was full of criticisms that morning, all directed at me. Apparently everything I did was wrong. I later learned she had come from a funeral, and ripping me apart must have been in some way part of her own grieving process. But there I was. Age 22. My first job out of college. Sobbing at my desk. Grieving over my lost golden retriever. In front of everyone. The funny thing was, we were in the middle of a newsroom, and everyone went about their work as though nothing was wrong. My boss found her way back to her desk and pretended to type away at something. No one looked at me or said anything. They didn’t know what to do.
Only one person – the oldest man in the room – walked over and poured half his bag of jelly beans on a napkin for me. It was maybe the nicest thing anyone did for me that week. It was something a grandpa might do.
I know I’m fortunate, at age 27, to still be able to visit two of my grandparents as often as possible. My grandparents, all four of them, are certainly some of my greatest gifts. They represent comfort and consistency. Safety and warmth and support. Only a grandma can deliver sweet criticisms. Only a grandpa can turn a tantrum to laughter. I don’t know how they do it.
As I try to grasp control of my life, redefine where “home” is and continue on the right path, I often find that my dreams center around my grandparents. They are, after all these years, consistent. Heck, my grandparents are the only ones who’ve had the same phone numbers all my life! I can always call if I’m in need, and they usually answer. If my grandparents have taught me anything, it’s to reach out to friends and family, show appreciation and try to be understanding – something we could all use whether we are grieving or not.
We never stop missing our grandparents. I miss my grandma and my grandpa every day. I haven’t moved on. I know I never will.