I Don’t Know What to Say to Myself– The Immeasurable Nature of Grief


Over the past week, I’ve caught myself thinking a lot about my grandfather.  Some of you may remember he died earlier this summer.  I went to his services with my family.  I grieved.  I reconnected.

And I thought I let go and moved on.

My grandfather and I were not close in the sense that we were always around one another.  We lived far apart.  Distance and life separated us for many years on end.  I didn’t know his whole life story.  In fact, I hadn’t known he was in the army until a few years ago.

But I always knew he loved me.  And I never doubted that I was special to him, or that he would be proud of me.

He did get to meet my children, and I’ll never forget his joy and thrill at seeing his first great-grandson.  That was very special to me.  He had other grandchildren who lived closer and were closer to him in an every day kind of sense.  I liked knowing that I was special to him too, and that my children brought light to his eyes.

So, it’s been several months now since he transitioned to the realm of love and light.  I wonder why this week, in particular, I am thinking so much about him.  I wonder why I am regretting things I didn’t get to know or say.  I wonder why I am suddenly seized with the urge to cry while I am driving home from work.

I’m trying to tel myself it is okay to sit with it.

But it is uncomfortable.

If I were a client, I would tell myself, that’s how grief is.  It comes and goes in waves and sometimes it surprises you.  It’s okay.  However you feel is okay.  The intensity will lessen, and then maybe it will come back, but it is all okay.  Sit with it.  Hold it.  Comfort it.  Tell it you are aware of it and you will hold it until it is ready to go.  You will be okay.

Isn’t it strange how when it comes to ourselves, sometimes it can be so difficult to find just the words to comfort ourselves?  That sometimes it can be so easy to relate to others, to understand others, but when it comes to ourselves it can really take so much more work?

There is a picture of Grandfather on his birthday, just a week or so before he died.  I was not there, but I saw the picture.  I have this desire to be in that picture.  To be able to hold his hand and stroke it and tell him he was a really good grandpa and I loved him very much.  I want to tell him I am sorry for not being able to travel to see him more often, for being busy, for making excuses.  I want to thank him for supporting me through college, and for loving me no matter what.

Even as I write these words, tears are streaming down my face.

I remember after my grandmother died, when I was in college, I couldn’t come to grips with it.  She and I had been close, and while her death was somewhat expected, it was still very difficult for me.  I had been present at her death, had watched her take her last breath, had watched the electricity leave her body.  But I still had this sense that she was somewhere, waiting for me in a room.  And if I could just find that room, I could talk to her or hug her.

That was my grief.  It was so sharp and scary for such a long time after she died.  It was my first big loss in life, and it helped to pave the way for other losses, and what my expectations of them would be like, how it would feel to mourn, how I would be strong enough to get through it.

Maybe that was her final gift to me.

It has taken nearly 20 years for me to reflect on that.  So, I guess I need to still give myself some time with this death, this loss of my grandfather.

Thank you for being here.  Thank you for listening.  I know you are there and I’m so glad.


2 responses »

  1. I’m sorry you’re struggling. I get it. I’ve been consumed with grief lately and can’t figure out the best way to deal. I know I have to feel and allow it, but in moments of extreme emotion that feels unrealistic. I wrote about some of this in a recent post. I’d love your take on it when you have a chance. Lots of love to you, my friend. And for what it’s worth, it hasn’t been that long since his death. I think your feelings are very understandable.

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