It’s always sad when someone dies, but in some ways it’s different when that person was old and had reached the end of their natural life span. They may have been in pain or discomfort, confused and upset, or all of those things, for months or even years. In these situations, the initial response may be one of relief that they have been spared further suffering.
However, even when a parent or grandparent dies of old age, and even when we can rationalise this and intellectually understand that it was simply their time to go, we must pass through the grieving process—and that is something that is always difficult.
It is important for the recently bereaved to understand that what they are going through is normal. They may have feelings of despair, anger, and guilt. All of that is perfectly ordinary. A death in the family is a lot to get used to, and when there is a sense of things that were left unfinished, it can all be very hard.
If you have siblings or other close relatives who are also upset, this is a time when you can be a comfort to one another. However, it is also a time when everyone is experiencing a very raw set of emotions, and there is always potential for disagreement. It’s important to know when it’s time to approach someone, and when they need their own space.
It’s not selfish or wrong to prioritise yourself and your own emotional needs in the aftermath of bereavement. Whether you need time alone to process your emotions or find it easier to be surrounded by people who care for you, do your best to get your needs met. Take care of yourself physically, too. Make sure that you are eating well and not over- or undereating, or drinking too much, in an effort to cope with your emotions. Everything will be even more difficult if you aren’t physically well. Don’t feel that you have to “protect” others in the family by not mentioning what has just happened; it’s good to talk.
Above all, respect the fact that grieving takes time. Life goes on, but you need time to adjust to the new situation and to process all of your difficult emotions. It will get easier. One day you will wake up and realise that thinking of your loved one no longer makes your eyes fill with tears; instead, you are able to enjoy your happy memories of them.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT WHEN A PARENT OR GRANDPARENT DIES?
For help about when a parent of grandparent dies, please speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.