Tag Archives: grief

Anger after death.

I’m just going to jump right into this one.

I’ve been struggling off and on with quite a few things lately; one of the main ones being that, nearly 2 years after my grandmother passed away, her estate was finally settled in the most drug-out, slap-in-the-face way possible.

Kind of hard to explain, really; a long story full of secrets and betrayal with an extremely sad ending.

For the past 2 months I have had a few boxes of my grandma’s personal belongings sitting in my apartment. With circumstances, and the way things ended, my emotions were too high for me to really care to start going through them.

Around the end of January I finally started to go through them. They’ve been taking up space in my guest bedroom, being the literally huge elephant in the room that I can’t ignore, but kept trying to. As I started going through them, however, there were so many things I discovered even by just going through one full box that I didn’t even know how to comprehend.

I saw a side of my grandma in photos that I didn’t even know existed; a model, a dancer, a party animal; a beautiful yet wounded person. I saw a life full of memories and wonderful experiences – raising a family, vacations, boating, etc. I saw words written to her by friends and family members through the years about the kind of person she was, the character she had, the great relationships she had built.

It made me happy, sad…and angry. I was deeply hurt that I never truly got to know her. It made me mad that I never had a relationship where we shared much. It was more surface-level; she was a relatively stiff woman, yet here I am reading all of these kind and beautiful sentiments written about her by other people close to her.

Not only did I see a side of my grandma that I didn’t know, but my grandfather, too. He passed away when I was very young – my first grandparent to pass away, actually. I didn’t get the opportunity to know him as well as I could’ve, but he lived until I was 11 and was one of my favorite men in the whole world. He considered me to be the “light of his life,” the “prettiest girl in Kansas City,” and other wonderful things. He was so loving and kind, had such a loud boisterous laugh, gave wonderful hugs and kisses. Of course, at age 11, you don’t get to experience a lot of the depth of a human being. It’s as you grow older and mature that you truly get to know a person for who they are.

His relationship with my grandma, his life before me – none of these things are things I got to learn about from him before he died. And, of course, I didn’t ask my grandma about their relationship, or about her life before me, either – it was all kind of a taboo subject. Much of what I learned about them was either after they had passed, or things I learned that I wasn’t really supposed to know or talk about. Kind of hard to get to know people that way, agree?

I could go on and on for quite awhile about the crazy dynamics of that side of my family; basically this entry is to share my experience. Dealing with death is hard enough; learning things about people after the fact makes you feel like you truly never knew them at all, and makes you wish that you could talk to them to get the story from their perspective. It’s pretty hard to move on when you know you can’t get the full version from the horses’ mouths.

I’m hoping this entry helps me to vent out some of my anger, sadness and frustrations – but I know that this is definitely a life-long process.

In all reality, at least the knowledge that they both loved me in their own ways, and gave me some positive memories to look back on and cherish, is enough for me. But, I will still always wonder…until we meet again.

One year.

It’s pretty incredible how much can change, yet simultaneously remain the same, in the span of one year.

It’s been one year, as of yesterday, that my grandmother passed away, and one year today that I learned the news. It seems like it’s been longer in some aspects, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had the “good fortune” (doesn’t seem like a fitting description, but words are failing me) to be there with her for her last day here on Earth. Our last words exchanged were that we loved one another, leaving not much room for regrets or anything left unsaid.

Regardless of the situation, it’s never easy to lose a loved one. However, in reflection, I am thankful that I was able to have that closure. She is the second grandparent I have lost, and so far I have been lucky in that, with both losses, I have had closure. Not everyone is able to have that when family members pass on.

I suppose this post is not just to commemorate the loss of my grandmother, but to recognize the role that losing a family member/loved one plays in life. It is a necessary evil that we all as humans have to face at some point. When it is a family member who you’re very close to, it can be even harder to process; but even if it’s not the closest relationship, letting go is never easy.

Unfortunately, at 25, I am now at an age where I don’t have much longer to enjoy the company of the grandparents I have left. My paternal grandfather died 14 years ago (as of January of this year), and my paternal grandmother one year ago. I am so thankful that I have both maternal grandparents, as well as two step-grandparents, that I can still spend time with; all are suffering health-wise, however, and I am coming to terms with the fact that they will not be around in my life much longer.

Though they may not physically be present, the lasting memories we have created and the lessons learned from them will stay with me forever. I am a firm believer that “the ones that love us never really leave us,” to quote one of my favorite films (Harry Potter). I know that even though I can no longer see or hear them, I carry them with me in spirit. Even through the times where I fight with accepting their physical absence, that thought can offer some solace.

With death and grief comes lessons; I have learned that I am strong enough to survive losing a loved one, even though the pain can be devastating. I have learned that I need to hold on to the loved ones I have left and cherish the time I have with them every day, whether it’s with a phone call, a visit, or just a kind thought. I have learned that it’s an ongoing process and it ebbs and flows; sometimes grief rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and sometimes you go days without feeling it. But most importantly, I’ve learned that it is manageable. I have been able to connect with others through learning of their own losses, and through discussing my own losses open and honestly. Human connection is one of the most important things, and being able to help others through their own grief is something that can even help to ease your own.

Sorry if this was a somewhat scatterbrained and therapist-like post; but it has helped me to write it. This is my personal blog, after all 😉

Closure.

I have been thinking about this post for over a week now. Simply because I wasn’t sure whether or not to even write it, what I would say that would even count as a meaningful blog entry, what my feelings even were, how I should be feeling and how to even explain my thoughts.

But, after several days, I have decided to share this story with you.

Last week, I received a phone call saying that one of my ex-boyfriends from high school was found dead in his dorm room where he was stationed in New York. I had not talked with him in nearly seven years. Seven whole years. And yet I found myself on the verge of tears for the whole night, thinking about this person who I remembered as a part of my past, yet knew nothing about as of recent.

I’ll start from the beginning:

Let’s call him “E”. E and I had a…well…complicated relationship. We met when I was about 12 and he was 14 or 15 through family friends. He lived far out of town, and apparently had a crush on me. After meeting him, he got my phone number from a family friend and called me, and we spent a summer talking on the phone through the distance. Eventually we lost touch and both went on with our adolescent years.

When I was about 17, however, I came across E again, we reconnected and started dating. It was a very short relationship, with long distance and our lives leading in different directions. I went to visit him with one of my friends…many things happened on that trip I do not care to share, but needless to say, the relationship was over by the end of the trip. We ended things on a horrible note. I yelled at him, told never wanted to see him again, and I never did. I never will, I should say.

Eventually we did talk a couple more times. No closure was truly gained. I heard E was very upset about the way things had turned out, he told his family that he would never intentionally hurt me, and that was that. We never spoke again.

From what I gather from his/my family is that E eventually had a child, quickly married and divorced, and enlisted in the army. He was deployed, and afterwards he stayed in the army. He had another child and quickly became wrapped up in the more, ahem,”fun” aspects of life. Apparently his party habits and his overall unhappiness caught up with him and his life ended prematurely.

Around the time E first enlisted, my grandma said that I should write him a letter, that she was sure he’d want to hear from me since it had been so long. I was still feeling stubborn and still hurt by what had happened that I said I had no interest in doing so. Looking back now, I can say that is a choice I regret.

Now, to the point of this story. I don’t mean to say that I am in any way not over my relationship with E. I have definitely moved on in life, I enjoy where I am right now and I love the guy I am in a relationship with now. I did, however, regret that I never received full closure from E.

I have always been one of those people that lives as if there is no tomorrow, soaks up every minute (for the most part) and tries to make every day have a little bit (or a lot) of fun in it. I try to never see anything as a regret. I do believe, though, that people do tend to regret the things they don’t do more than the things they do. And one thing I do regret a bit is not writing E a letter. I know that though things ended on bad terms, I would never wish someone ill-will, and I would never wish someone to die. It’s a tragedy that he was unhappy in this life, and it was a tragedy that he didn’t get the chance to see his children grow up. I do wish we could have had the opportunity to communicate and end things on good terms.

So, this is for you, E. Here’s my official closure. I hope you are finally happy and at rest, wherever that may be. I hope that your children grow up to be happy individuals. It is unfortunate the way things ended between us, that we never caught up over the years, that you will never read what I had to say, or hear it from me face to face, but maybe, somehow, you will wind up with this knowledge anyway. I wish you well.

Sincerely,

Calli

The right to grieve.

I’ve been on an unintentional blog hiatus. My deepest apologies; I haven’t had too much to write about until recently, but due to being overloaded with work and emotional obligations I’ve been too busy to post.

The past week and a half I have been forced to realize just how short life is because of the untimely passing of someone who was too young. You constantly hear that children are “supposed to” bury their parents, that it’s the “natural order” of things. It’s not something you think you’ll be doing at the ripe age of 23, however.

One of my best friends had to say goodbye to her mother less than two weeks ago, something that shocked all of us closest to her. Your parents are people that are supposed to be around forever, people that will always be there to answer your questions when you need them or to help you out when you need it. Losing one is something that shouldn’t happen until you’re older and have had years to appreciate them and all that they have done for you.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. I can’t even imagine what my friend and her family are going through right now, which is why I have been challenged, emotionally-speaking, the last week and a half. I have been grieving in my own way, feeling a little out-of-balance and upset. At first I was really conflicted. I didn’t believe I had the right to grieve. She wasn’t a family member of mine, she wasn’t close to me; sure I had met her several times, and I have several fond memories of her, but she wasn’t mine to grieve.

I expressed these feelings to one of my friends, to which she replied: “Sometimes I think we feel guilty for grieving, but everyone has the right to grieve.”

That made me think a bit.

Not only was I grieving for my friend and her family, I was grieving for myself. And I had/have the right to. Sure, she wasn’t my family; but she’s someone that had been a part of my life, even if for a brief time. It’s never easy losing anyone, no matter how big or small a role they played in your life. The right to grieve for the loss of a person is something everyone has, and something that no one should ever feel guilty about.

My grandmother has always been an advocate of taking responsibility for and power over your own emotions, and not allowing anyone else to tell you otherwise. I guess this is an area in which her advice really applies, and I should’ve listened to her sooner.

So, as a conclusion; I will allow myself to feel these emotions without feeling guilty about it. After all, feelings and emotions are part of what make us human, right? So, as a basic human right, it is something I will take responsibility for and power over, and I will not feel guilty for doing so. Everyone handles things differently in life; it’s up to you to decide how you want to think about, feel about or react to those circumstances.

Forgive and Forget

Sorry for the delayed post. I’ve been busy/sick and time’s gotten away from me. Go figure.

Speaking of time..what an interesting concept. It’s crazy to me the number of moments I vividly remember thinking “this moment is going to become a memory soon.” And, here I sit, remembering those memories. Hm. Crazy.

Time is such a silly notion, really. It’s a made-up concept that humans lives revolve around. Time wouldn’t even exist if we hadn’t thought of the notion so long ago (such an interesting subject, and the focus of many debates). Yet now it’s something that constantly consumes our thoughts. What time is it? When do I have to go to that meeting? How many days/weeks/months until this major event? What year did that happen? How much time do I have left?

Time. Something that means so little, yet so much all at once. It’s as if time is constantly measuring different aspects of our lives.

They say time heals everything. Well, I’d really like to know who “they” are and what made them so all-knowing to make such an assumption. There are several articles I’ve read that have made cases on the contrary.

In a way, this is true. Plenty of things have happened in my life that I’ve thought I would never stop thinking about. People and events I thought would be so important or devastating in my life that I would never be able to forget. And, for awhile, that’s true. You think about those things, whether positive or negative, until one day you realize you haven’t thought about it in awhile. And then one day you realize it’s been a long time since you’ve really thought about that thing. Suddenly, it fades away, as if it hasn’t even happened at all, and it doesn’t even really cause the joy or pain it once did.

At the same time, however, this is not exactly true. One of the above articles says it’s what you DO with the time that passes that allows for healing. I would definitely have to agree with this. If you sit around dwelling on things of the past, it does not provide for a healthy future. That’s it; it’s the past. It’s been done and cannot be changed. What can be changed, however, is what you are doing to move on.

It is so much easier for us to point the fingers at others who have done us harm and to see ourselves as victims rather than count the numerous things we have done to hurt others. Forgiveness, of both ourselves and others, is one of the first steps towards moving on and creating that healthy future. Not to say that forgiveness is a quick and easy fix, but it’s definitely a start. Forgiveness is a process. It’s a way of deciding what’s more important, whether that be harboring hateful feelings or patching things up and moving forward.

But, there’s a second part of that equation; forgive and forget. That’s the part that always seems the hardest. But, honestly, when you decide that something is worth forgiving someone for, isn’t it kind of obvious that you should then not have to think about what it was that they even did in the first place?

The answer is yes. As I’ve mentioned above, sometimes time does heal those wounds. The passing of time and creating new memories, happy memories, replaces the negative ones. Eventually, it won’t constantly be on your mind, and it won’t even hurt as bad to remember when it is brought back up.

Point of this post: when something negative in your life happens that you don’t think you will ever stop thinking about, think instead of healing. Choose the lighter path. Choose forgiveness, even when it seems to be a hard choice, because everyone is human and makes hurtful mistakes. Choose forgiveness, and the forgetting will (eventually) follow suit. It may be a decision you have to make every day for awhile, but eventually it becomes second-nature. Choose happiness.