There are some posts you just never want to write. Some things that you just don’t want to say.
Last week, my grandmother passed away. And while we’ve – not callously prepared, but due to the circumstances – been sorta worried this would happen, given the current health climate in the world right now, let alone the fact that we’ve got to accept this – as much as we want to keep people with us forever, it’s just not possible. As hard and as much as we wish it could be, there’s a reality that we can’t escape. And that’s something I’m personally struggling with. There’s the logical side of me that says ‘nope, there has to be ways to fix this, while the emotional is just going ‘nope’. My psych nurse says it’s completely normal, but I’ll be entirely honest, while I’ve got a little self-care routine that involves meditation every morning (something gran taught me, a little at least), and a few times a week in the evening, I’m kinda disconcerted to find that I’m managing *about* five minutes before breaking down and crying. Which is normal, but as I’ll come back to, I guess, because I have mental health challenges, I wasn’t sure it was till my psych nurse told me. And it feels awful to put it this way – I’m focusing on me when the loss affects all of us, but I’m trying to balance being a mum, a daughter, a mourning granddaughter, a partner. And I’m aware we don’t really ‘grieve properly’ for about six months (though, everyone has their own path). All of this is leaving me feeling a bit out of sorts and feeling like engaging with the world just isn’t something I want to do right now. But I’m a writer. I should know how to talk about this.
Spoiler alert – I don’t.
What are the right words?
This has been one of the toughest weeks I’ve ever gone through. As a family, we’re not geographically close, but though we live all over the country, we do all talk. My gran and I used to see one another at least once a week before we moved to the Cotwolds (and she moved further north for a while), because we lived in the same district in Edinburgh. I am very lucky – our family, no matter what, are always there for one another. My children have been abroad with her when they were younger (and my mum too) – we’d see each other at least one day when we were home, and we talked on the phone regularly.
So, to be told that she’s gone, and how sudden it really was, despite the fact she’s been unwell and the stuff going on with the pandemic etc., we thought that we’d get to see her again when the lockdown lifted. So, to say that I’m a bit stunned and numb is an understatement.
A good woman, my gran
I’ve said in various posts talking about this in private that grief is one of those things that takes our words away. We are silenced by the shock, by the pain, by many things. In my case, it’s unusual to be without words, but my gran was an integral part of a lot of my writing. She and I talked about stories – she’s a part of one of my pen names (and, my real name) – but we just talked books an awful lot. My family have all had a lot to do with my writing life. And it’s just…hard to say the right things. So I’ll say simply this. My gran was a good woman. She was a spiritualist healer, she was a kind woman. She was funny, and fun and our good memories will be what we focus on.
We will miss her, a lot. Words aren’t sufficient to express that.
One of the many things though, that gran told me that sticks with me, not just the poem in the image above, is that butterflies and dragonflies are our family that are gone, checking in with us. She and I talked a lot about that, because of my love of dragonflies and hers. So, this year, when and if we go to the little lake we know that there are dragonflies, I’ll be looking out for the one that comes to me, and maybe I’ll get to say hey.
I’ll be working through this and everything else as we move through the next few weeks – her funeral is next week, and when we can go home, as long as the UK lockdown roadmap remains static and as planned, we’ll see our family in the summer. But… for now, I’m a bit lost, and a lot numb, and just taking time out.
If you could think happy thoughts for us, that would be great. If you’re going through similar, I’m really sorry. 2020 was a horrible year, and 2021 was supposed to be better, and in reality, we can’t ask for that, but….it’s hard to deal with knowing where we go from here.
Kai is a writer, author and avid reader. A mental health advocate, Ludosport athlete and coder. She’s the mother of two young adults, owned by two cats, and lives with her beloved in the Cotswolds.