When is it okay for life to carry on?

(20 Posts)
StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 11:31:47

Forgive me if I ramble, it's very hard to put my feelings into words.

I lost my grandfather a couple of weeks ago. I can tell by reactions from some of my friends and distant family that I should be 'getting over it', but it's not so simple. He was more of a dad to me than my own dad, he wouldn't be hurt to hear me say that as he knows it is true. Some of my cousins went out clubbing after the wake which I thought horribly disrespectful, but they were not so close to him, and everyone handles things their own way. He would have probably approved anyway, he loved a good party.

It's just the strangest feeling. I can be having fun with the DC, then catch myself and wonder why I'm laughing. Then in the next breath think, I have to carry on and he wouldn't want me to be sad.

The smallest thing makes me well up, yesterday I heard the first song played at his wake on the radio and dissolved. This morning I was taking the DC to nursery and a funeral procession passed. I stopped and bowed my head and wept, no doubt anyone passing thought I was crazy.

It's harder as I'm pretty far away from my family. I want to be there for my nan but I cant.

Is this a normal experience after bereavement?

OP’s posts: |
jeangenie Wed 18-Jun-08 11:35:57

yes, perfectly normal especially as you were so close to him

took me a long time after I lost my mum

don't worry, but do remember he wouldn't want you to be sad - it will get easier and you will never forget him

ggglimpopo Wed 18-Jun-08 11:36:02

There are some religions and cultures who believe in the forty day mourning period. This allows a time where one can literally wallow in sadness and in one's loss. It is a period of deep mourning.

At the end of this time, the sadness and the loss are still there, and one is still grieving, but one has an obligation to "walk with the living" and pick up life again, to the best of one's ability.

This idea greatly helped me when I was in deep grief.

StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 11:43:08

Thanks, it's good to hear others experiences.

ggg I have heard of that too. Just some of my family keep saying the 'closing of the curtains' during the service should signify a final goodbye. I don't know how they are doing privately but publically they seem to have moved on.

I feel guilt too, my sister lost one of her twins a few hours after birth, that was horrific, then theres situations such as your lovely Maude, and OJ, bless her.

My grandad lived a rich and full life. he battled bowel cancer for five years after being given just 6 months. He efused chemo or surgery as he hated hospitals and just carried on. He died at home in his own bed surrounded by family and a wonderful macmillan nurse. It wasn't a tragic death by any means, but it's left such a hole in my life.

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MrsTittleMouse Wed 18-Jun-08 11:43:20

A couple of weeks ago? That's a really short time. In my experience, the first emotion when someone dies is shock, and when people start expecting you to "get over it" is just when the shock wears off and you feel the full force of the loss.

Please be nice to yourself and allow yourself to grieve.

StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 12:05:48

Mrstittlemous, it wasn't so much shock, I was there helping to nurse him.

Everyone knew he was deteriorating which is why I went up there to see him. He was his usual self, just very thin and pale, he was in his garden chair laughing and smoking a cigar. He sang to us all and we had a lovely big family meal in the garden.

Then during the night my nan called to say his colostomy bag had burst and he was too weak to get into the shower. My mum and uncle went too help him and he asked them to get a bed for him in the dining room. He was a massively proud man and had never even mentioned his bag. I think he felt he was losing his dignity and wanted to go before it happened. My uncle drove a single bed from his house and he settled into it.

Apparently that night he sat on his bed upstairs with my nan, kissed her, then kissed the headboard and said 'whenever you miss me, put your hand here and I'll be kissing you'.

He knew it was time, I like to believe he chose the peaceful and dignified route. His 9 brothers all visited and we all sat around his bed looking at photos, laughing and crying. I didn't sleep for almost 3 days.

It also comforts me to think he orchestrated the moment he passed. There was a houseful of people and the mac nurse had told us he wouldn't be waking up again but it could be days, even weeks. I remember making cups of tea for everyone and watching his chest go up and down in his reflection in the kitchen window.

My aunt decided to go upstairs for a nap, my nan had fallen asleep in the chair beside him, my uncle had just left to drive his car home and walk back as he needed a stiff drink, another uncle had just landed in London after flying from new zealand and we put the phone by grandads ear so he could hear him talk. Then my little sister called in tears and asked for me to go home and sit with her. My mum was upstairs doing ironing.

As I left the house I knew it was it, it's the oddest feeling. I held his hand, gave him a kiss and said 'If I don't see you through the week, I'll see you through the window' . That was something he always said to me which made me laugh.

The mac nurse says she came back from her car and knew it was time, she gently woke my nan up and left them alone, a minute later he was gone, holding his wifes hand. He'd always said he didn't want 'an audience'.

As soon as I saw my sister we just hugged and I woke my brother up. I just knew. I called my nannans house and my mum answered and said 'he's gone lovey'. She seemed insanely calm so I felt the same and told my siblings. We all sat and cried and laughed,then cried again then walked to the house. By that time there were 20 people there, which shows how close a family we are.

Sorry what a ramble, I've told this story over and over, I think it helps in some way.

OP’s posts: |
MrsTittleMouse Wed 18-Jun-08 12:07:45

What a sad and yet such a lovely story. Your grandfather sounds like a wonderful man, no wonder you miss him so much.

Hassled Wed 18-Jun-08 12:11:27

Remember Me by Christina Rossetti has helped me a great deal after the loss of my parents. Have a read.

Two weeks is no time at all - years after the death of my father I still have my moments like you've described. It doesn't mean you can't be happy as well. What you're feeling is completely normal.

megcleary Wed 18-Jun-08 12:11:51

telling the story will help keep telling it and take all the time you need

jellybeans Wed 18-Jun-08 12:13:14

I am so sorry for your loss. It took my mum a long time to get over the loss of her dad. It took me a long time to feel any better after loosing my 2 DDs late in pregnancy, I still suffer alot at times (it has been 6 years and 17 months) ((((hugs)))) xx

StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 12:16:24

He was an amazing man. Alongside all the sentimental tributes we put in the local paper we put one that he had requested.

'Jack won't be out tonight lads'

A family in joke, when he was ill, or even just when she was cross with him, my nan used to answer the phone and say 'jack won't be out tonight'. He was a huge part of his community and his friends in his local put a photo of him on 'his' chair the night he passed.

At the funeral we had 6 family and friend cars and people had to stand up inside the church and crematorium. Every ouse on their street had their curtains drawn.

If I can become even an ounce of the person he was I'd be proud.

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kando Wed 18-Jun-08 12:17:58

SM, you last post has me with tears streaming down my face. Your grandad sounds like a lovely man who knew his time was near and tried to say all his goodbyes. I love his saying "If I don't see you through the week I'll see you through the window". Wishing you strength x

StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 12:19:28

Hassled that is lovely, I haven't read that before. I'm going to write it out and send it to my nan.

OP’s posts: |
StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 12:27:05

You can shed tears that he is gone

Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can't see him

Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

I read this during the service. It was an amazing send off.

This was played as we walked out, at his prior request. It's marked in the order of service we had done as 'Jacks last laugh'. It made the entire church laugh, then cry. What more could you hope for. I'm just so sad my DC didn't get to see more of him. The first thing he said when he met newborn DD was 'I'll fight you for the karaoke on your 21st'


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mistypeaks Wed 18-Jun-08 12:28:26

SM - He does sound like a superb bloke. He sounds to me like he absolutely would want you to be happy. Here's the man that was sitting in the garden laughing, joking and smoking when he knew his time was coming. That sends a very clear message to me that life is for living and living happily and well. That's not to say don't grieve. If someone that close and wonderful to you has gone - of course you will be devastated and it will take a long time. Just follow your heart (I'm sure your granddad is still around to help you) if you feel sad, cry. If something is funny laugh. But don't feel guilty. Guilt is a very empty and imho useless emotion. All it serves to do is put you in the wrong, when you're not.
I do know how you feel. My wonderful loopy nan died 7 years ago and I still have a cry sometimes when I smell her perfume or see a garden like hers on my walks - at other times I can smell or see these things and smile and feel her around me and feel comforted.

jeangenie Wed 18-Jun-08 12:30:52

awh SM - you sound like a lovely close family...and your descriptipon of your GF's last moments was so moving

it is no wonder you are still grieving so hard...

really you mustn't feel guilty, either about that or about having a good time now that he is gone. It is OK. He would be happy you are happy.

I was with my mother when she died, just me and my younger sister. I was 22. It was the middle of the night and she was in hospital having battled breast cancer for 3 years. The nurse on the ward told us it wouldn't be that night but I knew it was close. We called my dad even though the nurse said it wasn't time but he didn't make it in before she went. I went into a state of strange calm, my sister says she never saw me so strong. I was glad for mum that her awful suffering was over. It was in the weeks and months after that it hit me hardest. Things would happen and I would think "I must tell Mum, she'll think that's hilarious" and then realise I couldn't. It was awful. I wept so much for years and years. Must have taken me 10 years and the birth of my first daughter to "get over it properly" although am not sure you ever do. I still miss her terribly and am very sad my kids never got to meet her. I talk about her often and they know who Granny Liz was so I feel she is still part of things for us.

Sorry to ramble, I thought someone else's experience might help.

Go easy on yourself, but don't be afraid to laugh and smile either. You won't forget.

Jaynerae Wed 18-Jun-08 12:44:08

Strict Machine, I lost my Dad 6 years ago - and it still breaks my heart.

Crying as I type this, This weekend has been hard - fathers day. Took the DC's to the cemetary on Sunday to lay my Dad some flowers and it hurt so much. DD is 4 so he never got to meet her.

Life does go on, but you never ever forget. My Dad would have wanted me to be happy all the time and forever - and I am most of the time. But he was my Dad and I miss him.

You will always miss your Grandad, but remember him with love, fondness, and smiles. The sadness will creep in now and again, but it has too.

It's early days for you, and you will feel like you do now for some time - and that is OK.

Take care of yourself and accept your feelings and go with them.

don't let how others react affect you, you had your very own individual feelings towards your Grandad and always will.

StrictMachine Wed 18-Jun-08 12:47:28

jeangemie, thanks, it does help to hear other experiences.

I can't imagine how hard it was for you, you must be incredibly strong. It's true that people we've lost do live, from what they made us, the memories and photographs.

I understand that odd feeling of calm, I never expected it, I imagined us all wailing around the bed.

I think it will hit me more later, but this is bad enough.

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jeangenie Mon 23-Jun-08 09:50:41

how are you doing SM? hope you are feeling ok (well, as ok as is possible, you know what I mean)

queenrollo Mon 23-Jun-08 13:49:42

i lost my gran nearly three years ago and i was much closer to her than my own mum.......even now i still occasionally feel that deep sense of loss that i felt in the early days. For me the few months after her death, i didn't really grieve as such because i had ds to look after (he was 8 weeks old when she died), but when the momentum of new motherhood started to settle down that was when it really hit me. I too have moments where i catch myself in raucous laughter and silliness with my son and am suddenly overwhelmed with a sadness that she is not here to share it, but then i know that these happy times are what my gran would want for me....she absolutely loved small children and the silliness and joy they bring into our lives.
Everyone grieves differently, i love to talk about my gran.....other members of the family find it too painful to do this.
Go through this process in whatever way and whatever pace suits you.........and i can promise in time there will be more smiles when you think of him than tears.

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