No, this is not a post about Charlie Brown 🙂 I’m talking about the actual “good” that can come from grief.
In my last post I mentioned how I was supposed to go to Pittsburgh but missed the trip because I needed to stay home due to the fact that my grandmother was very ill. Well, my grandma actually passed away exactly one week ago and since then I have been dealing with my “grief”.
In psychology we learn about the stages of grief. Some say there’s seven, others five. I learned the DABDA system that includes five; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I’ve struggled with many emotions over the last week. And I started thinking about these stages and realized that in this case, they don’t quite fit. You see my grandmother was 96 years old and had been ill for a while. This situation is different than say an unexpected death by accident or the death of a child, etc. Nevertheless, I loved her and my heart hurts.
|My grandma with my youngest as a baby
So this is what my “grief” has been looking like:
First, let’s call it “wishful thinking” rather than denial. I KNOW that she’s gone and yet I don’t want her to be. I was at the wake, the memorial service, the funeral. But I didn’t want her to be there. I didn’t want the person in the coffin to be my grandmother. But it was and it hurts.
Anger? Not so much. I mean who could I be angry at? God? My sweet grandmother for leaving us? Never. I know the Lord has taken her into His loving arms and that she is no longer in pain. She lived a long life and the only anger I can feel is at myself for not spending more time with her while she was alive and for not being able to be 100% absolutely sure that she knew just how much she meant to me.
Bargaining- the “if onlys”. I admit I do have a few of these but there hasn’t been any trying to bargain with God. The reality is she was 96 and led a beautifully full life. She loved and was loved by SO many, oh that I could one day be that blessed. . .There was no bargaining to be done, her time had come and there was no postponing the inevitable.
I feel do feel sadness and regret (depression stage). I regret that I didn’t spend all the time I could while she was alive. I am sad that we will not have any more time together. It all hurts because I loved her so very much. . .But as a believer I KNOW my grandmother is home with the Lord and I have so much gratitude to Him for allowing me the honor and privilege of having such a special woman in my life for as long as I did.
|With my mom and daughter, four generations
I am working on the “acceptance” stage. I’m accepting a new reality, a new life without my precious grandma in it but this will take time. In the meantime I’m working on another “A”.
I call it the “action” stage. This is where grief can be a good thing, at least in my opinion. When it calls us to take action. To reflect on our lives and relationships and not dwell on what cannot be undone but rather look to what we can change or improve.
I wish I had been able to show my grandmother my love every single day and every moment that we were together because only that would have been enough. When I was a child she was my primary caregiver, my mom was a single mother who worked hard to provide for us. As a result, my grandma was honestly my very first best friend. I loved her deeply and I just wanted to be wherever she was. She was a model Proverbs 31 woman and truly the “best” person I have ever known.
|Yup, that’s me with mom and grandma
In recent years, her health deteriorated and it became harder to communicate with her. She lost her hearing and sight. She often didn’t know who I was and that was hard for me. I know I should have been there more anyway. But then again with the “if onlys”. . .
I could get stuck there; in the regret. In the pain and the grief but then who would that benefit?
Because you know what? I still have a 90 year old great-aunt (my grandma’s “younger” sister) that I need to love on for as long as I have her. I’m going to make sure she knows how special she is to me. I’m making it a point to be better for her.
|My grandma with her “soul mate” and younger sister
And not just for her but all my loved ones. My grandma had 96 years but we’re not all going to be blessed with such a long life. The reality is that life is too short to not let our loved ones know just how much they mean to us.
I know the grieving process will continue in the days, weeks and months to come. But I’m choosing to focus on what I can control and that’s ME. How I love, how I spend my time, and especially how I can be more like my grandma. That’s the best way I can honor her life.