How do you cope with loss?

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This is a journal about loss and coping with it and it’s the hardest one I had to write so far. Please do not read if sensible/in a bad mood, I don’t want to make you sad, I just need to do this for myself.

My grandmother, my father's mother, the one i grew up with, passed away this August.

 My mom received a call from her brother in law, he said she's not feeling well at all and that he's coming to get her admitted to the hospital. When my father came home and find out he didn't want to go to her place. "My brother's paranoid, she's just feeling a little sick, she's almost 85 after all". Mom and i insisted that we leave. We both dreamed horribly the day before.

I was dressed in a long, colourful dress and my mom asked me to change into something else. "What the hell", i said, "we're not going to a funeral", then we left. 10 minutes into the road she receives another call. It was 9:10pm. She gasped and burst into tears. "No, you're not serious...", i turned from the front seat, saw her cry and I knew. Father said “She’s gone? Oh no… my mommy”. That was all he said until we got there one hour later. He did not cry; my mother and I did a little bit until our pills calmed us down. It was surreal. They don’t teach you how to deal with this in medicine.

 I remember the silence and how the first thing I did when I got out of the car was to throw up. I don’t handle losing loved people well. I was there when my grandfather died and I still remember the day like it was yesterday; how he fell to the ground, how my grandmother screamed, how I ran to our neighbors for help and how when I came back she was next to him with a lit candle, then a bunch of people moving around them. I remember crying in the house and the neighbors’ children saying that if I don’t stop crying they won’t play with me anymore. Like I even cared. I was 5 at that time and after the funeral I used to put spicy peppers and flowers into a mug where his head was when he died. He loved those spicy peppers and I loved him.

I saw his sister on her deathbed too, my aunt, whom I loved like a grandmother. She had a very tough life, was a single lady, was never married and didn’t have any kids. Her biggest wish from me was to call her “grandma”, which I didn’t. After she passed away when I was eleven, I couldn’t stop thinking about how happy she would have been everyday if I would’ve just called her “grandma”. I decided that if I should have a girl I will name her Victoria, after her, and if it’s a boy, Anton, after my grandpa.

Anyways. When we got there 3 neighbors were next to her and she looked like she was asleep but had a nightmare. The ambulance came fast and long before we did but she was already gone. When I touched her she was already cold; I jumped in the bed with her and stroked her hair and held her hand. I felt sorry for not being there for her when she was scared. There was no time for mourning though, we had to get her dressed up and ready. A few hours later my father and I left back to Bucharest to buy the things needed for the funeral; we arrived at 5 am, slept until 6 and then went to buy one by one the things my mother noted on a list. I did not feel we were doing it for my grandma.

My uncle was the most devastated, he was a complete marshmallow even if they used to fight all the time. My mother only lasted that night, then she lost it too. She was exhausted, shocked and upset. My father barely looked like his mother died – he was never great at expressing his feelings, however he did looked confused. Both his parents were gone now. I was the last one who remained awkwardly calm and help with the organizing. My mother took care of the traditional arrangements. I won’t go into further detail – but when I looked at her in the coffin, it was like I wasn’t looking at her. She didn’t look scared anymore, she just looked like she slept.  But she was not my grandma, she was just another body like those I used to see at my university. I didn’t want to look at her and say: this was the one who raised me and who inspired me to go into medicine; this was not that courageous lady that came from the mountains and started her life alone in the south amongst strangers and made a beautiful career there. I barely felt anything.

Since then I talked about her a few times with family members and i chocked up a bit, maybe because it was unexpected, maybe because she didn't listen, maybe because i miss her, but I didn’t cry. It is hard to say goodbye to her and to my childhood and get used to the fact that she’s not around anymore. Even to this day I am tempted to ask mother if she talked to her today, what’s new and what’s her complain this time about her lazy neighbors.

I didn't mourn her loss, i only cried a few minutes in the car when i find out and at her funeral, that's it. After her funeral i got caught up in studying. I felt that if i did mourn her it would close a chapter i am still not ready to close and it will make my little protection bubble crack open and leave me exposed to the reality that I already lost 2 of my grandparents. And that death is scary and losing people you love is even scarier. I knew the truth, I just refused to accept it. That is until tonight when I finally cried a bit. I feel awkward and guilty for this, it’s like something is blocking me from consuming the fact that she died. I just want to cry all day and then breathe in, say “that’s it, it’s over” and move on. Instead, there’s always a sadness in the back of my head with her name and image on it.

I don’t know what to say more. I visited her grave a few times and lit candles to her, my grandfather, my aunt and the rest of their and my family. It still feels like I’m doing it for strangers. What’s almost as hard as her passing away is that the house my father and uncle, and then myself grew up in is empty now. I don’t feel like visiting anymore; to see the yard unattended, the garden a mess, the grass growing in chaos… and to not hear her voice, talking to her dogs, cats and chickens. Maybe occasionally yelling at an orange cat who was stealing food from the house. All of that is gone and what’s left are those lazy neighbors she was complaining about.

I feel a bit better now that I have it all written down. It’s like I talked to myself about it. Also it's 4:10am, so excuse any typos/errors.

How do you cope with loss? Do you get stuck like me or you get destroyed in the beginning but get to move on once things settle down?



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