Father, Grandfather, Best Friend, Comforter, and Rock of Wisdom Lost, But Still Present: Grief and Gratitude
I lost my grandfather 3 months ago but I feel like I lost one of the greatest men in the world. I feel like I lost the greatest person in MY world.
My love for him was so strong, but because people assume "he was just a grandfather, shouldn't you be over it by now," I often feel that what they are saying is true; that I should be "over it by now." Their response is rude!
Death is a traumatic event no one can forsee! I never knew just how comforted I was by his presence until he died. I never imagined that this magnificent sweetness that permeated my life came from my dear Grandfather! When he died, it became terrifying to live without this sweetness, this comfort, and this rock upon who I relied for strength and encouragement all the time, at my leisure.
When he died (also of cancer) I was angry at God, angry at doctors, angry at myself, angry at my family, and I didn't realize this was a problem until I realized that I would take turns being angry at everyone simply because I was, more than anything, angry that I couldn't have him right here back with me.
I am Catholic too, and I stopped going to Mass for a couple of months. I actually did a lot of bad things to lash out and rebel. God gave me a nightmare to scare me into becoming good again. I am still angry but now more able to see that God really is good and cares about us. It's hard to see through the pain and that's okay. It is painful to say and to admit but it's the truth and hiding from it is not respectful to myself nor does hiding it help me to find healthy ways to cope and grieve my beloved grandfather.
People have their own opinions about grief, often from simple ignorance and misunderstanding, not necessarily insensitivity or selfishness. They might not know how to be respectful, but don't let that stop you from respecting yourself and doing what you need to do to grieve. The fact that you are as angry as you are still suggests that you have not really allowed yourself to grieve fully yet. It is primal and okay to grieve. Respect yourself no matter what. My Grandfather always respected me and tried to convince me to respect myself and my feelings.
Those closest to me don't want to discuss it when I do, and I don't when they do, and so I also feel like my only release is when I am alone, but it is not very comforting at all. I think that in the future though, I will begin to realize that if I am willing to let others open up to me, they will let me open up to them, and everything will be fine. I am afraid of the idea but I am hoping to muster up the courage soon, with love for others I think will break through my own grief and bitterness and hard shell that is just as awful, in a way, as the pain and sadness.
I thought at first that because I live in a suburban small town that I would have no where to run and scream, no where to do things people can do out in the country, like scream and yell and shout and hit trees with rocks and rage out against nature out of anger for the one I love having been cruelly taken from me. But one day I visited his grave and wrote him a love letter filled with deep respect and admiration, thanking him for all the good he had brought into my life. In the end of it I tried to force myself to move on, just because it seemed like everyone else had.
That was a mistake. It only buried a part of my grief deeper inside. However, the rest of the letter was extraordinarily healing. It was intimate, and allowed me to love my Grandfather in the present, his soul, and too, in a small and little but significant way, accept that he was shining down on me from Heaven. Don't get me wrong okay, it was painful, but I have found myself very susceptible to denial and my denial manifests itself in self-destructive and naughty ways. I know there are other ways of healing like crying (the way I want to) when no one is here, from this website on "how to cry." I will definitely try it out soon.
Dr, please tell me if I am "on the right track." I am sometimes afraid of myself trying to find solace from men who might take advantage of me. As a result I have finally realized I have to avoid men as other than at work/school. I have done some things that are completely out of character since he died, (against my religion) that I have never done before, to seek comfort, and I am shocked and ashamed by my behavior.
Do I need counseling even if I don't currently feel any more lack of self-control? Sometimes I feel torn between two worlds, and the less I isolate myself and the more I integrate fully with society, the more I feel the sharp distinction between these two worlds: the natural and the internal world of my grief, and I feel very afraid by it. I know he is gone, and I am determined to accept it, but what if it comes back, this feeling?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I think you are definitely on the right track. Three months is not long at all following a major loss such as you experienced when your grandfather died.
I wouldn't suggest that you do anything you haven't already thought of (good idea about trying the crying exercises), except that I do suggest that you read this page on relationships, just to make sure you don't compromise your values again for the sake of seeking comfort.
And I also suggest that you learn about nurturing your inner child, to make sure you're giving enough love to yourself, and not making the men in your life more important than you are.
You are a wise person, and you will heal. Take all of the gifts you received from your grandfather, claim them as your own, and express your heart felt thanks to him. Everything you love about him is a reflection of those same qualities in you.
My very best to you,