Katherine writes: I lost my grandfather last month, and this was my first loss of a close loved one. I am 28 years old. I can’t seem to stop thinking about my grandfather. Granted, it has only been just about two weeks, but I am afraid this pain is going to last forever. I find my grief is worse at night and during the day I can function somewhat, but when night comes and my children have gone off to bed, I feel myself start to fall apart again. Am I doing something wrong?
Neil Chethik, author of FatherLoss, responds: I’m very sorry to hear about your grandfather’s death. When we experience the death of a close family member for the first time, it’s not unusual for it to be extremely painful. In addition to the loss itself, you are feeling something for the first time — profound grief — and it can be scary.
The good news is that in almost every case, the pain eases. Time generally works in the griever’s favor; that is, people tend to feel a little better as the weeks and months pass. However, you may also feel the pain acutely again as you reach special days, such as your Grandpa’s birthday, holidays you spent together, the anniversary of his death, etc.
Some people grieve more successfully if they actually DO things that honor their loved one, or that remind them of their loved one. For example, you might look through photos of your grandfather, listen to music that he loved, read books that he liked, or do things that you used to do with him. By consciously touching the memory of your grandfather in this way, you might find that you feel better overall.
Ultimately, everyone grieves differently, in his/her own time. And in the vast majority of cases, each person’s style of grieving works effectively for them. It may take some time for you to fully experience the sadness of losing someone you love so much, but eventually, you will likely remember him less with sadness than with fondness.
I wish you well,
Neil Chethik is editor of Open to Hope website. Reach him through his personal website at www.NeilChethik.com