Grief and loss.

On Sunday, I lost my Grandad. He passed away.

He was an amazing man- possibly one of a few people that religiously read my old blog. He noticed through one post that I wrote that I was struggling with being a new mum. He vaguely mentioned that he had read my blog, and started driving 40 minutes one way with my Nana every Friday. He bought food that he had learned to cook, specifically for me. He was a very special man.

I remember nights where I thought that I was alone at netball, and I turned to see him cheering on the sidelines. I was from a single parent family. My mum worked and my brother was small, so I was often left to pursue my interests on my own. And that’s ok. I get it. I think it’s made me perhaps even a little too independent. But to go from feeling a little alone, to turn and see that someone did show up- that was a pretty amazing feeling. And to be fair, he did the same thing for other people. Even my husband remarked that he was always so grateful to see Grandad cheer him on whilst playing soccer. I could go on for days about how amazing he was, but writing about his brilliance was not my intention.

What I am noticing, is that I am going through the stages of grief. It started when he was admitted to ICU last Monday when the ICU doctor said that he would not make it.

I became saddened- depressed. I ugly cried a lot. Why is there so much snot? I tried not to cry in front of him. He was so calm about it all.

Grandad lasted almost two weeks, and in that two weeks we watched him slowly, and peacefully decline. In the last day, we played him jazz music and diffused smells reminiscent of relaxation. We held his hand and told him that we love him, and that we would look after Nana. After having sat with so many strangers in their final moments when I was an ED Nurse, I wanted to somehow try and help Grandad to have a good death. It’s the only way that I felt that I could help, even though it felt trivial.

There are apparently 5 stages of Grief. Denial. Anger. Depression. Sadness. Bargaining. Acceptance.

These can be experienced in any order. They can all be experienced, or just some.

After the sadness that started with the onset of his illness and followed off and on until even now, after his passing I started to bargain. How long had he been sick for? Did he not notice? If he was started on antibiotics earlier, could things have been different? Was it somehow my fault? Did I miss something? It’s just unrealistic for me to expect that these are appropriate questions that can ever somehow be answered, but they linger as if there is a mystery here that needs solving.

And then came Anger. You little jerk. If I didn’t have some pretty good resilience, this one could have gotten me in big trouble. People who I knew were trying to help the situation were rubbing me the wrong way, explaining things to me that I really didn’t need explaining. Saying things to me that don’t need to be said. Being a little condescending. I know that we are all experiencing grief together, and that we all have our pain. Lucky I can bite my tongue.

Sadness keeps coming back and kicking my arse. And I have no doubt it will keep doing that until well after the funeral on Friday. Acceptance is not even on the horizon yet

What I am trying to do here, which is new for me- is be transparent with my feelings. We have feelings for a reason, and it’s so that our brains can process the shitty things that have happened to us. Suppressing them ends with anxiety and depression down the track. One thing that’s strange- we all suppress so much, and then we can’t put two and two together when it comes back to bite us on the butt.

I keep thinking of something my husband said- “I’m trying to be strong for you.” What does this mean? If I were to see him crying, would that in anyway impair his strength? No. Would we more likely just sit together and have a cry about someone we love, and then when the tears dried up (which they will) we’ll get back up and get on with it? That’s the more likely scenario.

So here I am. Being “vulnerable”, but feeling stronger than I have ever felt before.

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