Losing a grandparent at any age, I’d imagine, is traumatic. However, (luckily?), I have not lost a grandparent as an adult. Only as a child. I don’t know if thats lucky or not honestly.
I lost my grandpa when I was six years old, and because life is completely unfair, it was a few days before Christmas. If you told me I had to pick one moment in time that changed my life forever, it would be this hands down. I cant help but think of all the ways my life would be different if he was still here. I would have so many different skills, so many different stories, a whole entire different life. However, these are the cards that have been dealt to me, so play them I must.
When you lose a grandparent young you forced into a different outlook on life. I can barely tie my dumbass shoes, yet here I am, having to contemplate the permanence of death. Something my other cousins won’t have to do for decades. Essentially, you have to grow up. Not in the “you have to grow up” way they’re always talking about on Teen Mom when the dads want to spend diaper money on gasoline so they can do donuts in a bowling alley parking lot. Mentally, you have to adapt to the information you have. It was clear what death was, I had experienced a loss that was not coming back, I had grieved a life before I was in the second grade. The innocence was gone. I can’t ignore this new information and go back to watching Fox and The Hound. I am now completely aware that any given time, I could lose somebody else. Whilst my classmates are worried about boogers and stuff.
However, at the same time, you have no idea what is going on. There is no composed phone call. There is no gatherings at home that make you feel better. Your parent, who just lost their parent, has to then find a way to tell you, a child, that their grandparent is gone. Expected, or unexpected, a child still would not see it coming. Then the adults have to get together and do all the logistics stuff, and cry together, and drink. As a child you’re sitting on the outside, processing this life changing information and watching chaos unfold right in front of you. The rug got pulled out from underneath you.
Then, as quickly as it happens, it’s all over. You then live the rest of your life full of the what-if’s and whys. You’re always thinking of what great thing in your life that they have to miss. They won’t get to watch you graduate high school, or college. They’ll never see you get married or be a great-grandparent. You wonder what life would be like if it just would have happened later in life, or not at all yet. You get angry, and you wonder why. Why on Earth is happening to me? I BARELY did anything wrong, besides eat candy when I wasn’t allowed. For some, it makes you question the validity of a higher power. For some, you cling to the idea of a higher power, hoping to see them again one day. However, your faith and trust will always be shaken.
And then suddenly, you are not alone.
People around you start to lose their grandparents, and you watch what happened to you happen to someone else. It makes you wonder how on Earth you ever got through it. It almost makes you bitter sometimes, and thats okay. Anyone who loses a grandparent after you will always have more. They had more time, more pictures, more memories, and more hugs. But if anything good comes from this, it’s that you have the ability to help someone else. Help someone get through what you had to go through when you were younger than them.
I’m here to tell you, it is okay to not be okay. Reach out to who you have left, get their memories, their stories, and their pictures. My grandpas sisters kept him totally alive for me. And as they started to pass, they kept each other alive. I can never thank them enough for everything they did for all of us grandchildren. Family becomes extremely important when you lose a grandparent young, because you know you don’t have all the time in the world.
I’m here to tell you that “it gets better with time” is A LIE. If anything maybe it gets worse, more milestones missed, more forgotten memories, so little pictures. But maybe that’s a good thing, because it means you’re not forgetting. Just know you’re not alone, and that there are so many more of us out there, will unhealthy coping mechanisms and cynical sarcasm.
Cheers to us! We deserve it, damn it.