July 15, 2018 would have been my grandma’s 96th birthday. She passed away early last November, leaving me with the most unimaginable grief. I decided to dedicate this blog to her, to grief, and to the importance of self-care in the grieving process.
256 days ago, around 3AM on November 3, 2017, I kissed my Grandma Lele goodbye for the last time. It was both painful & peaceful. Painful in the sense that my heart knew it was a final goodbye, and peaceful knowing that she was finally going to be free of the pain & suffering she was enduring in her final hours.
I remember coming home and being unable to really feel anything. I mostly just sat in silence and stared at my phone. My boyfriend sat beside me and consoled me as I sat in silence, tears occasionally streaming down my face. He had to remind me to eat, remind me to drink water, and basically remind me how to function. I was devastated. As much as I had prepared myself for the day, I never knew what it would be like when it finally arrived. That night, I was in bed before 9. I’d turned off my phone & laid alone until I finally managed to fall asleep. The next few days were like a blur. I drank an unimaginable amount of alcohol. I just wanted to be numb. I didn’t want to feel this pain, and at times, I didn’t want to be alive. The grief felt like it was going to kill me. Why did God have to take her? Why now?
They say there are typically 5 stages in the process of grieving… I felt like I experienced the first 3 stages almost simultaneously.
- Denial – I woke up a few hours after leaving the hospital to a phone call from my brother that my grandma was gone. I didn’t believe him, or rather, I did not want to. I woke my other brother, called my parents, called my boyfriend, and really just anyone I could. I think part of me wished someone would have told me I was dreaming, that it just wasn’t real.
- Anger – I was very angry with God for a long time after my grandma passed. My anger caused a small lapse in my faith. It caused me to treat others around me differently. It made me a very protected person. I had my guard up so high to ensure I couldn’t be hurt by this. That, dear readers, hurt me more than anything else. I dealt with these emotions alone & it hurt more than it helped me.
- Bargaining – “Why couldn’t God just take me instead?” I plead with God so much after the anger passed. I would have done anything to have my grandma back here on Earth. My life had such a large void. I just couldn’t imagine my life without her here.
- Depression – My grandma passed on November 3, 2017, just weeks before Thanksgiving. The holidays after her death were rough. Christmas especially. It didn’t feel right, celebrating without her. How could everyone be celebrating when I just felt so guilty? This is something that still hasn’t gone away. I’m still stuck in this stage, at least in this moment.
- Acceptance – One day, I know I’ll make it to this stage. I have endured so much pain throughout this process. Some days are better than other, but I still have a lot of pain in my heart. Part of me knows that my grandma will never be here again, but a bigger part of me still yearns to see her walk through the front door or to be that bright, smiling face at a party. Someday, this will get easier. It important to carry on through life in order to one day achieve acceptance and in turn, find a true happiness again.
Grief-stricken people will often suffer most in their physical health. Grief can cause extreme fatigue, and attempting to rest or sleep it off does nothing to better it. The emotional strain can in turn cause insomnia, which only aggravated fatigue more and causes the body’s immune system to ultimately weaken. Grief can also literally hurt. It stresses your body constantly, and can cause chest pains, body aches, and headaches. It’s often difficult to differ between the flu and your own grief. One of the not-so noticeable factors in grief is digestive and appetite issues. While others may not be able to see it, these issues can affect you very greatly in the grieving process. Some people tend to “eat their feelings” and overeat to compensate for their depression, and others may simply skip meals for days at a time. Both these paths will ultimately lead to digestive issues and the lack of vitamins and nutrients can cause serious health issues that can lead to both physical and emotional turmoil.
Self-care is extremely important during and even after the grieving process. Taking steps such as meditating or reading a book can help to ease some of the stressors that come with grief. Eating a nutritious meal and doing some light exercise every once and a while can prove beneficial in aiding the body in tackling grief. Taking care of yourself can prevent damage to your body & mind and can allow for a healthier & happier environment for yourself to live in. I personally took to writing and exercising as an outlet for my grief. Being able to express myself has allowed me to let out all my emotions and be vulnerable to my readers. Working out has given me an outlet for my stress and anxiety, and often works to distract me from the pain that so often weighs down my heart.
Ultimately, it is important that we carry on. No matter how slow the path may be, we must never stop. We have to keep dredging on through the toughest battles and know that one day, we will see brighter days. Grief is never easy, but if we reach deep down in ourselves, we can find the strength to keep going. What doesn’t kill us will ultimately make us stronger. It is a tough pill to swallow, but it is a lesson worth learning to say the least.
“Nobody ever said that life was gonna be fair. You’re never gonna get no where by runnin’ scared. If you look down deep inside you’ll find the faith to make you strong, oh carry on” – Tim McGraw, “Carry On”