This post has been a serious challenge to write and if you’re reading this, then I managed to click publish. It wasn’t easy by any means, but this particular topic isn’t something anyone can easily open up about.
Back in July, towards the end of my first week in my new job, I arrived home to devastating news. Whenever you lose someone, it’s difficult, but when you’re old enough to actually understand it, then it’s a whole other matter.
Today would’ve been my Grandad’s 86th Birthday and it’s heartbreaking to know he’s not here.
My Grandad was the most caring, entertaining and inspiring man. He was a great Dad, Grandad and friend to many and very fond of taking photos. Something I’m really happy to have continued to do in his memory. He was lucky to have traveled to so many amazing places and had so many stories to share. I’m grateful to have known such an amazing person and to have shared memories I’ll never forget.
Only two months after he passed away, I turned 22 and I didn’t even want to celebrate my birthday knowing I wouldn’t have a card from him, or know that he was just a short walk away. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be happy, to enjoy my birthday. I thought it was selfish for me to be happy and I felt guilty for any moments where I would smile and distract myself from it all.
I found Christmas and New Year difficult for similar reasons. For years, I would receive an album filled with photos from his travels around the world and anecdotes jotted beside, with some older family photos thrown in every now and then. It was funny seeing the hairstyles my parents used to have, the clothes we used to wear and how my sister and I have grown up. Then there were the medals and the memorabilia from his service and at the time, none of it meant that much. I always kept the albums and the medals like I would keep everything and only now do I find myself searching for the albums, looking for those little gifts and wanting to remember the stories that went with them. Looking through them is both the best and most difficult thing to do.
Grief is the most horrific, confusing emotion and we all react differently to it. They say it gets better with time and maybe it does, but I still find it hard to think about him without getting upset. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel angry and confused. It’s okay to feel nothing and to refuse to accept the truth.
Just that morning, I found out he’d returned home from hospital the previous evening and everything had seemed okay. The good news really lifted my spirits and I’d started to think of when I would see him next and what we’d talk about. Hours later, any happiness came crashing down and of course I blamed the hospital, I blamed everything I could and I blamed myself for not seeing him as often as I could’ve (and really should’ve).
I blamed myself for a long time and felt guilty for being a bad granddaughter. I couldn’t accept it and it’s taken a hell of a lot to even sit down and write this. I’ve deleted as much as I’ve written, I must have gone through half a box of tissues and yet I still keep going. I wanted to write this, as difficult as it’s been, in the hope it’ll help someone else and keep you going. You’re stronger than you think, I am too, we all are and it’s okay to feel sad. It’s not a weakness or something to be embarrassed about.
We all lose loved ones; whether we have time to prepare and say goodbye, or it comes as a total shock. No one will ever know the right things to say, no words can make it easier and sometimes you won’t even want to have anyone around. Looking back through old photos can be absolutely heart wrenching, but one day you’ll be able to look at something and smile, or hear a story and laugh about old times. Someone may have gone, but their love never leaves you. There’s comfort in that love and I like to think that he’s still with me in some way. Whether it’s the way I see things, or the decisions I make. Ultimately, I owe a lot to my family for how I was raised, what I was taught and the experiences I’ve had.
I guess this post is for him really, as much as it is for me. I’m sorry you never got to see my graduation photos and I didn’t spend as much time with you as I could have done, especially in the last few years, but I know you
I discovered your blog a few days ago thanks to Brittany (from LSS) and I feel like I need to comment because your post is so beautifully written.
I lost my grandfather too in December and even though he was 92 (would be turning 93 in two weeks..), and you expect it to happen at some point, it's always so sudden and unexpected. At least I know he had a good life and that's the thing that makes me feel better.
Anyway, thanks for sharing that personal story.
Thank you Léa. I'm so sorry to hear that. To reach 92 is incredible!
oh darling, it's so horrible, I know what you mean, I lost my nana two weeks ago & the funeral is tomorrow it just doesn't even seem real, even typing this I still don't beleive it. I hadn't seen her for a few years as she had demetia and it was a little traumatising, at first I thought I should have seen her more but I knew I couldn't and it wouldn't have made a difference to her, I just trust that she was happy and I know she had a good life. You seem to have a lovely relationship with your grandad and instead of thinking of all the things you could have done better appreciate every moment you had and smile, don't look back with any regret, when my cat and dog passed away I wrote notes about all the things they did that made them special and what mademe smile and I always think of those and I'm not sad now, it's hard to face I won't see them again but I treasure every memory even if it's a small one. Maybe write down all the little stories you remember even if you don't remember the whole thing you can go back and add more and it may make you feel better writing it all down like you are preserving him, Then when you miss him you can go back and read it all I think when you slowly start to forget is the hardest thing too.x
That's a lovely idea, Laura. I may just do that. Thank you 🙂
This is such a beautifully written post, I'm sure it'll help a lot of others. Like you said losing someone is devastating, but I know as cliche as this sounds, it does get easier over time. I know it must have been hard to publish this, but well done for doing it.
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Thank you Emily
Losing family and friends is the most horrible thing ever! I know that it's hard at the moment but time is what it takes and things will always get better. Just remember the happy memories between you and your Grandad. Keeping a photo album or a scrapbook is a brilliant idea for cherishing all those memories as well xxx
Thanks Yasmina. I'll keep the albums forever and may even get a few childhood photos printed to put in my scrapbook x
Oh lovely this is so heartbreaking 🙁 I am really sorry but I do promise you it will get better, but you never stop being sad as you always want to remember, it's nice to always think of them and the good times. I can't imagine losing a grandparent as my mum or dad did'nt bring me up it was my grandma so I can't even imagine 🙁 xx
Thank you Jessica.
I had a few tears at this post as it reminded me of my own Grandad.
Big hugs to you and lots of love xx
Aww no, I didn't want to upset anyone! Thank you though x
I read this last night but couldn't leave a comment on the Ipad.
I just want to say whats a beautifully written post, I know exactly what your are going through, it gets easier to live with but the pain never goes away.
I also think its so nice that he gave you photo albums, they will be things you will cherish forever.
He'd be so porud of you after reading this post – stay strong.
x x x x
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* He'd be so proud of you after reading this post – stay strong.
Thanks so much for that Charlotte and especially thank you for coming back to leave the comment! I really appreciate it x
It's 6 years since I lost my granddad now and it still hits me really hard sometimes. He was an amazing man that like yours travelled a lot and I really looked up to him. He'd always been fit and healthy and even worked as a gardener but then he started to go down hill and had to give up his job. It was still a complete shock when he went though. I got up for work and knew straight away something was wrong. I pulled up my blind and saw a police car outside (we hadn't heard the phone going downstairs) and I heard a wail from downstairs that was my mum receiving the news. It's been so so hard over the years since he has gone, but I'm glad I had all the years that I did have with him, as some people don't get that at all x
Aw that's awful Becky 🙁 Yeah, treasure the memories you've got x
Very moving post, thanks for sharing. My grandparents are getting very old now and I'm doing my best to call them and visit as often as possible despite living quite far away from them. The albums you have from your grandad are so beautiful, it should encourage us all to step away from digital photos and cloud storage and remember to keep physical mementos for our families and friends.
Thank you Charlie. I know, there's so many photos I take which I never look at again after I've written a blog post or whatever, so I really do want to make a point of printing some out and keeping albums x
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