Dad called at 6:30 in the morning to break the news, and by the time the call ended, I surprised myself by how composed I still was. My wife and I talked for some time about what was coming next, when the viewing and the funeral were to be and how she died.
It wasn't until I tried to pull on my socks that I thought of how much I would miss her. The grief bubbled up to the surface before I could pull the sorrow back, and I didn't want to.
These 5 things can help you get a good handle on life without your loved one:
1. There is no wrong way to grieve
It is a mistake to approach grief like there's a right or a wrong way to it. You do yourself a great disservice to constantly compare yourself to other grievers, wondering why your level of sorrow is less or more than theirs. Your grief can be and should be personal. An uncle, a child and a grandchild may all react differently, and that is okay.
2. Pull your family close
Grief is individual, but there is also grief on the family level. The collective weight of the event is best carried by a family in unity. Although there is a time and place to be alone with your thoughts, there are many more times and places for you and your family to band together and love each other more genuinely than ever before.
3. Do not ask if there's "anything you can do"
This one is more for the loved ones of the grievers than for the grievers themselves. And while this question is well-intentioned, it is usually ignored. Almost every time, people in pain will not let anyone know if there's something others can do. It's too awkward, too imposing to ask someone for help in a time like this. If this offer to help is genuine, don't ask. Be respectful, be courteous, but just see a need and fill it. Should the timing be bad and your effort to help does not help, don't continue to assert your assistance; gracefully wait for a more appropriate time.
Grieving for a loss like this feels like peeling off a band-aid very slowly. Everything in you might be screaming to rip it off quickly, but, again, this does you a great disservice. These things take time to adjust to and put in perspective, and only time can give the kind of release of feelings required. Don't pretend that the grief has cleared up and that you're fine before you're actually fine; things tend to fester in that environment.
5. Remember, it will be all right
It was this point that gave me the most comfort before Grandma actually left. I knew it would be all right before she died; and despite this tragedy, I still know it will be all right. Keeping that beacon of hope in sight through the storm will make all the difference in being healthily distraught, then sad, then okay, then finally moving forward again—never forgetting the ones who have died but continuing to live in a way they would be proud of.
I truly do not look forward to the coming weeks and months, trying to figure out what our family will be like without Grandma, to say nothing (as if I could say anything) of the anguish my grandpa will be living with for some time.
There is light at the end of this tunnel for us, though. I know it. I don't believe for a second that Grandma is gone forever. Sometime later I will see her again, and when I do, I'm giving her the biggest hug.