Finding joy in the sadness of loss

Long time no speak.

It has been over a week since I last blogged.  That is my longest blogging hiatus since I started blogging.  I must argue that I have a rather legitimate excuse.

Last week, my grandfather died.

Worst. Vacation.  Ever.

I contemplated whether or not I would write about it.  The experience leading up to it and all that good stuff.  I couldn’t last week.  I barely had time to bathe myself, let alone write a blog post.  Plus, my family is kind of private and not always big on talking about that kind of stuff.  I didn’t want people’s pity or sympathy.  But, today I finally have time to sit.  And think.  And I feel like it is something I want to share.  If nothing else, just for me.

This will probably be several days in a series of posts over the next week or so.  I had all kinds of thoughts and ideas of things to share…  The experience of being away when someone is terribly sick, the experience of caring for a loved one in hospital as someone who works in a hospital, grief, stupid things people say at funeral homes, life lessons brought to us by my grandfather… I can go on.  If I had time to write last week, it would have been deep.  Hopefully, I will get to some of those.  But, as it turns out, this week is pretty crummy including me having to submit my research manuscript for the post-grad research day and a physics exam later this week (*whines*), so it may be super interspersed with other randomness.  Sorry to drag it out.

But yes, my grandfather died.  And it sucks.

Not that I didn’t see it coming.  I have for as long as I remember.

He had bypass and valve replacement surgery when I was just a few months old.  He thought he would die.  Then, he was told that this stuff would only last for so long.  My entire life, I was reminded that he thought he wouldn’t make it to milestone x.  But, he did.  Consistenly.  Nonetheless, over 26 years later, he was still around.  Growing more and more frail.  But ever present.

If you want to know the truth, I expected he would drop dead doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.  I was wrong.  It was more of a slow congestive heart failure death.

I happened to be on vacation.  I got to be there.

It was the worst vacation ever, but for the best reason I could think of.  Had it not been for my vacation, I would have really missed out.  I am bitter because I am tired and have a ton of work for school to do and have a messy house and have to go back to work without a real break.  But, I am glad because I got so much time, even though it does not feel that way right now.

I think in some ways I wish he just dropped like I always expected.  Like he always expected.  Because nobody wants to see someone in a hospital bed feeling like crap.   But, then we wouldn’t have had the time we did.

It is bittersweet.  It still sucks.

I was not only an only child, but an only grandchild for almost 16 years.  That is most of my life.  I got to spend a lot of time with him.  Pretty awesome.  But, I think that makes it tough.  Especially when I see my little cousins who got so much less time.

The piece that is the worst for me, as a selfish grandkid is that he was my last grandparent who knew who I was.  Actually, I have Patrick’s grandfather.  So, I still have one, kind of.  And I have my “other grandparents” (like my “other” parents).   Everyone else has Alzheimer’s.  It is like that last bit of my childhood is gone.  My grandmothers barely know who they are, let alone who I am.  Not that it matters, but it does in my head.  At least I grew up with grandparents.  But, now it is kind of like they are all gone.  Some to death, one to bad parental choices  and two to the disease that ate their memory.

It isn’t like I think I don’t have grandmothers.  I do.  And they are still my grandmothers no matter how lost they become, at least to me.  But, it does make it different.  When we bring home great-grandchildren, they will love the babies and such, but it won’t be the same as someone knowing who they are and where they came from.  I lost that bit this week.

I felt guilty for not jumping on the reproduction bandwagon sooner.  It is silly, I know.  But this is the stuff that goes through your head.  Or at least mine.

I feel guilty about not being home more.  About not being home now while my parents try to take care of my grandmother and deal with all the other stuff that comes from losing a loved one.

I know this guilt is not of God.  I know that things will work out.  That we all do the best we can.  And that I can rejoice for all the good things.

Feeling sad about this stuff makes me feel bad about those who did not get to have grandparents.  Really, I am the luckiest girl in the world.  And I know it.  But, the more you have, the more you can lose.

I don’t think I expected to feel this sad.

I am cool with death.

I know he is with Jesus now.  And he is way better off health wise and stress wise up there.

But, I am sad for what I lost.  What my grandmother can’t remember she lost.  And what my parents lost.

The good thing is that death has been conquered.  I take great solace in that.  I will see him again one day.  We will play music and dance and laugh and it will be a great time.   So, I am joyful in my sadness (if that makes sense).

14 thoughts on “Finding joy in the sadness of loss

  1. I’m sorry for your loss, and I know that sounds contrived, but I do mean it. I went through an experience similar to yours with my first grandparent to die, my grandfather that I loved dearly but lost slowly over time due to Alzheimer’s. And I was with him the day before he died, went to see him the day that he did die when they told us, which also meant I was on “vacation” since I lived out of the state. Anyhow, I had a feeling something happened when you didn’t post for so long. It is a comfort to know he is not suffering anymore.

    • Thanks. It is a tough experience, especially when you have to travel somewhere at the last minute to be present. I am glad he is not suffering anymore.

  2. Trisha, Thank you for taking the time to talk about your grandpa. Nobody can replace him and even though you and I are believers who know there is more to life than the here and now, I’m guessing there will always be that empty spot in your heart that was his relationship to you. that is how it is supposed to be. I hate the whole funeral home receiving line gig. Probably won’t find me in any of them any time soon, even if and when I loose someone close. too much stupid stuff gets said. If we lived closer I would invite you and your hubby over for some soup and a chance to hear more about your week (and your grandpa) Of all the people I’ve lost so far, I was closest to my grandpa on my dad’s side. I was also the first born grandchild. DM

    • Thanks for your kind thoughts and words!
      If you lived closer, I would totally happily come over for soup and a chat.
      There will always be an empty spot in my heart, likely similarly to your spot for your grandpa. I am glad there is more than the here and now.
      I know few people that actually like the funeral line gig. My grandfather was actually strangely good at the whole thing (unfortunately he had a lot of experience).

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I am very sorry for your loss and I hope you find comfort and happiness in the memories he left behind of you two together. ❤

  4. Trisha, so sorry. And my doctor told me it is always hardest on the relative who is not there. I am in that same position as you; yes the guilt of not being there rides waves in my life, but God placed me where I am at this time for his purposes. He did you too. Hang in there. God will get your through this.

    • Thanks. God will get me through this! I am glad I am not the only one who deals with the guilt about being away. Thanks for the reminder that God puts us in places where He needs us in His time.

  5. Trisha, so sorry to hear that your grandpa passed away. I was blessed growing up with 2 sets of grandparents. Lots of love in our family and although it’s been over twenty years, I miss them to this day. Praying for the God of all Comfort to overwhelm you with His Grace and Peace.

  6. Being there for him is a blessing in today’s impossible world. Living half a country away, I was not able to attend any of my grandparent’s funerals as all were sudden events and I was broke and unable to find someone to take my call. I am sure you being there was a great blessing to him. God’s timing is perfect, even though it sucks. And grief always brings a greater understanding and empathy….even though it sucks.

  7. I’m really sorry to hear this – I wondered where you were. I have only one grandparent left and I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for you. Thinking of you. I think you wrote beautifully about him and the experience.

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