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Death and Grieving Coping with loss is difficult at any age, but you are not alone during this difficult time. Reach out to other users in this forum.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
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The death of my grandpa is only now starting to hit me - February 27th 2014, 09:35 PM

Hey guys.

So my grandpa recently passed away on January 18th. This has been one of the hardest things for me to accept, because I love my grandpa so much. More so, I've lived with him my entire life, so we've had a pretty special and close relationship. I truly believe that no one has ever loved me more than he has. When he passed away last month, I was right there, literally holding his hand as he took his last breath. I'm forever thankful to God, or whatever higher being allowed me to be able to tell him I love him, one more time. But the tears I shed during the exact time of his death were probably the only tears I shed. I didn't cry at his funeral, I didn't even cry as I watched him being cremated - the moment his body was put into the oven didn't so much as fasten my heartbeat. I pretty much stood there, staring at the time, waiting to leave. I felt so heartless, but at the same time I felt extremely numb. And for the last month, I haven't exactly really felt like he's gone. Everyone in my family has had random crying spells over him every now and again as we pass his room, but I've been the only one who's been looking at his passing away in a positive way.

Up until now. Last night I had a dream about him, and I woke up and it hit me. He's gone. He's dead. His body is nothing but ashes now. And I'm beating myself up over the fact that I didn't cry earlier. But it's not that I couldn't cry - I think something was holding me back before. This feeling of numbness literally washed over me, and I almost went into this state of feeling unreal for the entire day of the cremation. I think it's only after returning to normal life style that I've realized that I've lost my very best friend. And I remember that the last day he was truly normal and functioning (before he had his stroke), we didn't really talk much. It was the very first night that I didn't get the chance to say good night to him - otherwise we'd exchange a few words every single night before bed.

And I just feel so upset and miserable about the whole thing now. Once the funeral is done, once the cremation is done, once distant family and friends stop visiting to discuss memories, that's when it hits me. Now I feel so alone because I feel like the hype of it all has died down and all that's left is me, and my thoughts, and his empty bedroom. The only thing left to do is that we still need to do something with the ashes, and after that, it's all over. And that's killing me.

I'm mad at myself for not being sad earlier, I feel guilty that I witnessed him die but only a tear or two was shed at the time. I don't know how to deal with his loss. I don't know how to deal with the absence. And I still haven't fully accepted he's gone. Every time I'm reminded that he's not alive anymore (i.e., going into his room, or when we sit down for dinner), I just hear this voice inside my head going "oh stop, he's not dead." (I don't literally hear voices, I just mean my thoughts) My brain doesn't want to accept he's gone, and I still don't feel like he's gone. Although there's a certain kind of absence that I feel at home, where he usually would be, it still feels like something's there. And I still have that feeling that I'm going to see him again one day.

And I don't know if that's the healthiest way of dealing. Am I supposed to fully accept he's gone? Is it okay to hold onto the hope that maybe I'll see him again? I cannot accept it, it's almost like I don't want to accept it. I miss him so much, and it's only now slowly beginning to hit me.

I guess my question is - what do I do now that it's hitting me? How do I deal with it in a healthier way? I mean I've made some art in his honor, but I just feel like I'm going in the negative direction. Instead of getting over the grief and getting better, I'm going in a negative direction. It feels like everyone else started off sad and depressed and are now starting to normalize. I feel like I started off not accepting the whole thing and living positively, and now I'm slowly starting to go downhill.

I also want to mention, in case it wasn't obvious, that this is the first time I've experienced the death of someone so close to me. I've lost distant family members, but nothing that's ever impacted me this much. So maybe that's why I'm having a hard time coping. I'm sure that no matter how many losses someone has experienced, it doesn't get easier - but with this being my first loss, I just don't even know where to begin to cope. Any advice?

Sorry for the long post.
   
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Re: The death of my grandpa is only now starting to hit me - February 28th 2014, 12:09 PM

Hey Roma.

The thing with death is that, to quote one of my favorite TV shows, 'it's always sudden'. Even if you're expecting it, even if you have time to prepare for it, you're still not ready. And even when you're right there with the person when they take their final breath, as you were, there's no guarantee that you'll accept it right away. Because losing someone close to you is painful. There's no way around it. So your heart tries to protect yourself, by letting you think that nothing's changed. And that's okay, for a time - it's okay to let yourself be numb, and not to cry, even though it's the opposite of what everyone around you is doing. Everyone grieves in their own way - which makes sense because everyone had their own relationship with that person. So it wouldn't really be right for everyone to mourn in exactly the same way, would it?

In some cases, like yours, it can take a while to sink in. Maybe it's a matter of focusing on the near future: telling yourself that you need to get through one thing and then the next, so that you don't actually give yourself time to think about what's really happened. The funeral, the wake, the condolence calls. And when those all fade away, when you really feel alone for the first time, that's when it can really start to hit home.

Like you said, sometimes it's when you try to get back into a routine that it starts to get to you. When you're dealing with the immediate aftermath, everything tends to feel surreal - so of course it might not properly sink in. But then you try to go back to normal, and that's when the little things start to hit you. Because you're trying to go back to normal, and you start to realize that something fundamental is missing, and it starts to feel wrong. But you know what comes after that? A period of adjusting. You learn to make peace with the pain, to let time start to heal the wounds. You go on when you feel like letting go, and you learn to live with someone you thought you could never live without.

My first piece of advice, following that potentially unhelpful rambling, is this: talk about it. Talk to people who knew him; trade stories about his life. Reminisce together, and you might start to feel less alone. Maybe you could do something your grandpa would have enjoyed. For example, when a close family friend of mine died a couple of years ago, my sister and I went to a shop she would have loved and browsed the kind of items that adorned her house. It was sad, of course, but it was also kind of lovely. Art is also a good way to express yourself. If you feel like it, you could write him letters, or 'talk' to him; tell him everything you never had the chance to say. Let yourself feel whatever you're feeling, and release the emotion in whatever healthy way you can find - whether that's crying, or screaming, or throwing a pillow at the wall, or hugging the pillow to your chest. Whatever it is, it's okay to be feeling it.

As for letting go versus holding onto the hope you might see him again, I think I'm in favor of the former. That way you can come to terms with his death, and learn to find a place for him in your heart without letting his passing get in the way of your life - because I'm sure that's not what he would want for you.

So to sum up, it's okay that it's only just starting to hit you. Let it hit you. Feel everything, and give yourself time to start healing. Be patient and gentle with yourself, and talk to other people who are going through the same thing. You're not alone in this, and in time the pain will fade.

I am so sorry for your loss; my thoughts are with you and your family.
   
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Re: The death of my grandpa is only now starting to hit me - February 28th 2014, 07:44 PM

I will keep this as short as I can. Its alright to cry, its alright not to cry. Do not beat yourself up about not crying earlier, or not crying at all. I didn't cry when I lost my grandma. Its hard, and it always will be a little hard.
I understand if you want to not accept it. Lots of people believe in the afterlife everyone they lost, are reunited in heaven. If you believe that, then great; continue with what your doing. I agree you should talk to people, and remember the good times you had with him. You need to let yourself feel whatever it is you are feeling, and let it all out.
You will begin to feel better soon.
   
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