Gut punch of grief

A few weeks ago, I was sucker punched by grief.  I opened up Facebook to see a beautiful photo of my sister and my grandpa.  It brought all the memories flooding back.  I realized that I did not get a chance to properly grieve for my grandpa. 

When he passed away last June, I had been recently diagnosed with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I was not willing to share with my extended family the details of my struggles.  I put on my mask, and I pretended like everything was fine.  I sang for my grandpa’s funeral with my sister and my aunt.  I still continued to wear that mask.  As the oldest of the grandchildren, I felt a responsibility to hold it together for the sake of my dad, my mom, my sister and my cousins.  I thought that I needed to be strong for everyone.  I was afraid to give into the grief.  I thought that I would just fall apart and come undone by all of my emotions. 

The bittersweet part of his death was that he was my lone remaining grandparent.  My paternal grandpa lived a long, full life of 93 years.  He was survived by seven children, nineteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his wife, his daughter, and his grandson who was my baby brother.  He left behind a wonderful legacy of love and faith.  He cherished his family, and he passed along his three passions in life to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – singing, hunting and fishing.  Grandpa taught me how to deer hunt and fish along with my dad.  His cabin in the woods near the Wisconsin Dells area was my favorite place. 

When I was devastated by the sudden loss of a dear friend thirteen years ago, I went to the cabin for a few days to get away.  It was just Grandpa and I.  We didn’t talk a whole lot about what happened.  I didn’t need to.  Just knowing that he was there made me feel safe and secure.  Grandpa fussed over me like I was a child instead of an adult.  He advised me to wear long pants while we were fishing.  I startled him at first by taking off my t-shirt to reveal my swimsuit beneath.  We fished a lot that weekend, and I made him dinner.  I let him grill the steaks that I had marinated, and he told me to cook the potatoes.  I had brought baked potatoes, but he insisted that we eat hash browns instead.  I returned home from that trip, refreshed and grounded by my time with my grandpa.  I cherished that trip and the closeness that I shared with my grandpa. 

My favorite memory of my grandpa was when he was talking about the love of his life, my grandma.  My husband proposed to me on the top of my grandpa’s bluff.  After we returned to the cabin and announced the news of our engagement, my grandpa talked to my husband and I for an hour about his life with my grandma.  I had never heard him talk that openly about their marriage.  His advice was “Even when you want to tell the other person to go to hell, give them a kiss good night.  Don’t go to bed angry.”  He told us that marriage was hard work, but that he had a wonderful marriage and a good life with my grandma.  His hope for my husband and I was that we too would have a wonderful marriage and a good life. 

Grandpa was very positive even as he faced his own mortality.  Whenever you would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “Dandy, dandy fine”.  The other expression he would always use is “God willing and the crick don’t rise”.  This spoke to me of hope that tomorrow would be a new day.  I love you, and I miss you, Grandpa.


About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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6 Responses to Gut punch of grief

  1. addyeB says:

    I’m so sorry you lost someone who was such a source of strength and love in your life and that you didn’t get to grieve. I’m glad he gave you so much hope though, that things would get better and that you could get through whatever life handed you. It’s beautiful that you have such great memories. Hugs and love to you.

    • Addye, thank you so much. He gave me so much hope and love. I aspire to have his kind of faith. When he couldn’t walk very well anymore, he would give the priest his confession from his car. He was that devoted to his Catholic faith. I wish I would have asked him more questions about how he continued to have faith in a Church that is so flawed at times.

  2. I am so so so sorry friend.
    My grandma passed away when I was diagnosed too. I was so wrapped up in my own head and lots of ativan that I pushed that grief deep inside. Eventually it came out when I was gardening one summer. It was our favourite thing to do together.
    It still hurts.
    Sending you so much love and hugs during this time.

    • So sorry for your loss, my friend. I am finally starting to process my grief. I need to go back to his cabin where we spent so much time together. I find him in nature and through singing.

  3. I’m so sorry. My paternal grandmother (also my last surviving grandparent) passed away while I was still in the worst depths of my agoraphobic, claustrophobic PPD/OCD. We travelled to her funeral, and I sang with my sisters and cousin. It was also the first time I had seen or spoken with one of my sisters since we had had a major falling-out almost a year before. There was such an amazing combination of anxiety, fear, love, and healing, all wrapped up in one.

    I didn’t have the same kind of relationship with my grandmother as you did with your grandfather. I loved her, and have many early memories of the loving, lovely person that she was, but for the last several years she had been slowly disappearing into dementia, and even when we visited I’m sure she didn’t know us. In some ways, I guess we were able to do our grieving early, but there’s still so much missing. I’m glad you are able to start to process the grief now, but I’m sorry you were unable to do it as you needed last June.

    • Margaret, you put into words exactly what my experience of my grandpa’s funeral – ” such an amazing combination of anxiety, fear, love, and healing, all wrapped up in one.” That is exactly how it was. My grandpa had started failing at the beginning of that year shortly after my youngest was born. So I was preparing myself, since he had been declining physically. Mentally, he was still sharp as a tack until the very end. I wish that I could have grieved last June, but I do not think that I was mentally capable of processing all of the emotions that I was feeling.

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