When I Grieve More for the Surviving Family Members than the Person Who Passed Away
Grief is a murky emotion for me.
I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had limited experience with death in my life.
So when my paternal grandfather passed away 5 years ago, it was my first experience of loss. And now… my maternal grandmother passed away just 2 days ago.
I’ve been navigating these experiences of grief and they’ve surprised me. You never know how you’ll react when someone passes away.
Even as I write this article, it’s a little hard to find the words. But I want to because I know how cathartic it is for me to write. And in case others can relate to my story too.
I apologize in advance if this piece isn’t as polished or put together as I would normally attempt to do. But I feel that it’s important to share it anyway.
When You Feel Nothing
My grief response has looked something like this:
- Mostly numb
- Lots of guilt over feeling numb
- Trying to pull out emotion unnecessarily as a way to prove I’m grieving
When my paternal grandfather passed away, I didn’t cry until the funeral. Then, it all came out like a rushing waterfall.
But, I didn’t cry for the loss of my grandfather. I cried because I felt the overwhelming emotion of everyone around me.
As an empathic person, the emotions of others completely took over. The agony of watching my grandmother bury her husband was… indescribable. I witnessed and felt her pain down to my core.
When it came to my own feelings, I inherently knew that my grandfather was at peace. When I saw his body, I knew it wasn’t him anymore. He had already passed onto the next plane.
Yet I kept having this sense of guilt. Shouldn’t I feel more? Isn’t that the marker of how much my grandfather meant to me? Aren’t I supposed to be horrendously sad?
The reality is that I wasn’t. I felt at peace with his passing. I honoured his life and who he was to me with fond thoughts.