Song of the Day: Stay Another Day – East 17
Because it’s arguably the most hilarious Christmas video around (seriously the pained looks are the best) and the lyrics have tenuous links to the content of this post.
I’m’a get serious on you all. Well, I say serious, but you all know my ramblings so. This post deals with death, so if that’s not your thing, why not check out these cupcakes or this Christmas playlist?If you’re following me on social media (or seen my last post), you’ll know that my grandma died last week – exactly a week ago, in fact. I’ve never had to deal with death before. The possibility of death, yes. My maternal grandmother has been on the verge of it, and when my mum was diagnosed with cancer, the first thing my 11-year-old mind thought of was her death.
But no-one has actually died before.
The previous week, my mum called me and told me that my paternal grandma was going downhill rapidly, and that things were Not Looking Good. I knew then that things were Definitely Not Looking Good because I was only a few days into work experience for my dream job, and my mum wouldn’t have told me otherwise. Because I was staying with my cousin (whose grandma it is as well), we drove down to see her that weekend.
Grandma did look awful, ngl, but tbh it was the state that my maternal grandma, who has had Alzheimer’s for 13 years, has been in for the last 6 of them, so it didn’t really phase me (as horrible as that sounds).
When it was time to go, I told her that I loved her and that I would see her the next weekend (it would have been her 92nd birthday last Sunday). And then I left, feeling kinda safe in the knowledge that she would still be there on her birthday.
On Tuesday 30th November, I got up at 5:30am and got ready to commute into central London. At 6:30, I opened my bedroom door and looked around to see if my cousin and her husband were up. She came out of their room in tears, and before she even told me I knew.
I started crying and got rid of all my eyeliner. About two minutes later, I made a comment about how it was really bad timing because she had died 5 days before her birthday – “come on, grandma!” – and my cousin’s husband said “yeah, come on, Eileen!”
So of course, I had that in my head, and I stopped crying, and called my parents, and that was that. Grandma was dead. Grandma was no longer living. Grandma was no longer on this Earth. I would never hear her voice or see her laugh or dance again. Ok.
I cried about 4 more times that day. I got pretty good at coming back from the ladies’ loos looking like I hadn’t just bawled my eyes out. I hadn’t put my make-up back on, and had scrubbed my eyebrows off on the tube, so I didn’t have to worry about that. But those bits of bawling happened in 3 minute bursts, in a cubicle, and silently because there were other people in there. And that was it. That work experience meant the world to me; it was for my dream job and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t want to waste a day, and so I didn’t.
Does that make me a cold-hearted bitch? I was sad, God I was sad, I still am, but I kept going. Keep calm, carry on.
That evening, I went to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland with my cousin, because we had planned to go, and we reasoned that grandma would have been furious if we hadn’t gone because of her. We sat in a fake chalet and drank mulled wine and toasted and remembered grandma.
And the next day, I got up, went into work, and carried on.
My cousin’s husband said he was shocked at how well I was coping. He said I was holding it together really well and that it was surprising. And that got me wondering –
am I grieving properly?
I’ve never truly grieved before.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
And that fact that I basically cried for a little bit and then carried on as normal is slightly troubling to me.
I’ve been told by friends that this is a perfectly normal reaction and that everyone grieves differently, but I still can’t get over the fact that I should be inconsolable. I don’t know if it’s because I repressed my feelings so that I could get through the week? It
was would have been her birthday on Sunday, so we continued with the family get-together regardless and had her picture where she would have been. It was nice to see everyone, and we toasted her, but we didn’t really talk about her death other than to say the funeral would be this Friday.
Today my dad came home from work early and wrote an obituary. I read it with a slightly clinical detachment.
I don’t know if the way I’m coping is healthy or not. I don’t know if I’ll suddenly break down at the cremation or not. Maybe I will when I see her all laid out. I don’t even know if it will be open-casket or not.
And I can’t work out if the depression I’m feeling is just my usual state or death-related. My anxiety was in overdrive because of the work experience and the two are usually related. I forgot to take my meds too. I’m numb. Is it grief?
I don’t know. Thoughts?
I love you, Grandma.
UPDATE: the funeral was today and I lost it when they brought her in. I cried when the hymns were on because apparently when I sing I cry more, so great. But I was on the front row so I felt like I couldn’t break down? I sort of pushed it back and ended up with mascara down my face and no-one else was really crying, there was just me kind of bawling silently. And then I pushed it back again. Hm. Being in the black limo parade did kind of make me feel important though.
Hope you’re all ok out there.