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Guest Post – Missing Them

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.

Why do you think it’s so hard to openly grieve in our society? Or don’t you think it is?

Why do we put “time limits” on grief?

How did your grandparents impact YOUR life?

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Betty

Thursday 3rd of February 2011

Lindsay, what a beautiful tribute, thank you. Betty

Lindsay

Thursday 3rd of February 2011

Thanks for reading!

Lindsay

Tuesday 1st of February 2011

Thanks, Josh. I do think it is important to talk about the people we have lost in order to honor them. And I think everyone leaves behind some sort of legacy in his or her own way.

Josh

Tuesday 1st of February 2011

I am fortunate enough to have only lost great-grandparents and no close family members. I can see how it is hard to empathize with those who have lost someone close because I haven't personally had to deal with it. It seems like society gives everyone a fews days to express their grief and then, "the show must go on." It is unfortunate that many people are so easily forgotten by those that weren't "close" to them. It shows that people's legacy matters. Make me think about the actions I take and whether or not that will build my legacy or be completely moot.

Now that I am older (26) I have learned to cherish the time I have with my grandparents and family. Perhaps seeing Lindsay go through the pain of losing someone close has helped me to appreciate the time I have with my own family. I look forward to visiting, talking, emailing my family more than ever.

More than anything, I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and feeling in a well articulated way. The Internet does not forget. Publicly talking about others will only continue to build their legacy.

Lisa

Sunday 30th of January 2011

Very nice Lindsay and great timing for me. About 30 minutes ago I was on the phone with my uncle and we were talking about my grandmama and how much I (and he) miss her. She was such a force of nature and I miss that desperately. Great writing!

Lindsay

Monday 31st of January 2011

Thanks, Lisa!

Lindsay

Saturday 29th of January 2011

Awww, your grandma sounds like she was such a unique and caring person. I know you will always enjoy those good memories of her. Thanks for sharing a bit about her with us.

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