How I Cope with Death

Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C.

I am writing this as a way of catharsis but also because I am feeling quite emotional today, I think it is because it is the 5 year anniversary of my grandfather’s passing. I would like to share my experience with losing people who were there from the start and how it has changed me in life. I hope that this helps someone out there and that it shows that we all grieve differently. If you are grieving someone important in your life, I am sending you all my love and support.

I lost my grandfather in March 2014. I was asleep in bed at college about thirty minutes from my parent’s house. I sluggishly reached for the phone and heard my mother holding tears back as she told me that my grandfather had just passed away. In my sleepy haze I didn’t comprehend what was happening. My grandfather had passed away peacefully in his sleep. I was in shock because this is the first time that someone close to me had passed away. My grandfather was there from my first day to his last day. I asked my mother what I should do and she told me to go about my day. I did just that, I went to classes and said nothing about what kind of emotions I was going through. A couple days passed and I told my professors about my grandfather and that I would be leaving one professor’s class in between or right after. I felt that they were giving me time to process and when the day came for my grandfather’s funeral viewing, my brother and I were picked up from campus and brought to the funeral home. My sister, brother and I were the people who had the visitors sign into the guest book.

I remember looking at my grandfather and crying so hard because it really looked like he was sleeping a peaceful sleep. His passing changed me in a way that I couldn’t really comprehend and still can’t sometimes. I loved spending time with my grandfather because he was a very stoic man but one who loved to bring the family together to eat Dim Sum and Bojangles. I grew up disliking them and when I think of both of them, I remember my grandfather with fond memories. The day of the funeral was sunny and my tears were falling down constantly. I was heartbroken and the next couple of weeks after that, I felt empty. What helped me the most was working and distracting myself. By working really hard, I coped with the loss without thinking about it constantly. I knew that life moved on but that it was okay to sit with my emotions if I needed it.

I lost my grandmother in January 2019. I went to visit her in the hospital in December 2018 over my holiday break. I live in New York so the last time I saw her physically was during my graduation in May 2018. When I went to visit my grandmother in the hospital it felt final. I had a feeling of acceptance because I knew that if my grandmother didn’t make it that it was going to be okay because she had lived a beautiful and wonderful life before, during, and after my grandfather passed away. I admired her spirit, she was 4’11” and a force to be reckon with. When I received the news that she had passed I was home from work and just watching YouTube videos (or something). My sister called me and she asked what I was doing and if I was sitting down. I told her I was and she proceeded to tell me that my grandmother had passed. I did not cry but when she cried, I cried. I let my supervisors know at work and told them that I would need to go home for a half week. I felt support from them as they listened to my request that everything seem normal. I didn’t want to be the center of attention for people to tell me that they were sorry about my loss. I just needed to continue to stay distracted. I went to the airport around 4 in the morning because my flight was quite early. I went to JFK and waited patiently for the day to keep moving. When I got home things were fine to a certain extent. I did not cry until I walked up to my grandmother’s casket during the viewing and then when we had the funeral. My grandmother’s death closed a book for me. The death of my grandmother closed the childhood chapter for me because I no longer had my grandfather or grandmother in my life. 

I have memories. I have some of the best memories of my grandparents who moved here with nothing in their pockets, really. I had pioneers in my life who didn’t take anything for granted. I have gained a sense of peace knowing that they are together now. I have also gained a sense of being calm and focused on the bigger picture and both my grandparents and New York have been a part of shaping me. I still struggle sometimes, like today, but my grandparents never wanted anything to stop because of them or because of a tragedy. Coping by feeling like everything is normal and keeping busy has been the most valuable thing to me as I have had to deal with the loss of people in my life. I will forever be grateful and miss my grandparents endlessly but I hope that I can make them proud by living my life, as I am trying to, to the fullest.

Talk soon,

Tiffany

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