Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Open Note

This year has been an exceptionally trying year. With the loss of my Grandpa in January to the loss of my Grandma a week ago today. I've been thinking about grief a lot and I've come up with a list of things to do/not do for a grieving friend.

Number one: give them time to process. I understand the urge to rush over and be of aid, but what they really need more than anything is time to process what has happened. By having people show up, unannounced it merely makes things more difficult for the person who has just suffered a loss.

Number two: If you insist on ignoring rule number one, don't ask them stupid questions. (Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question in this instance). If it's been under an hour since a person has died, odds are, the funeral home has not yet arrived to pick up the body of their loved one, so to ask them "are they still here?" not only is stupid, but also incredibly insensitive.

Number three: If you haven't been around and have no idea if the person who passed was in pain or not, DO NOT under ANY circumstances tell THE CAREGIVER "At least they aren't in pain anymore". Personally I take this as an insult because that means I wasn't doing my job at keeping them comfortable. Also, asking about specifics of what happened immediately after it happened is not ok. The wound is still too fresh, you need to give a little time before talking about it.

Number four: DO give the grieving person some space, wait a few hours to call and offer condolences. If you feel the need to make yourself useful, ask when a good time to bring by a meal would be. Don't make it be on your schedule, make it whats best for them, after all, they probably have a lot going on in their mind and heart right now.

Number five: DO give hugs, but only if they want them. Forcing someone to hug you won't make things better, if anything it will just make them pissed at you.

Losing Grandma was one of the hardest things to deal with. Having people come by and ask me questions immediately after she had passed was the furthest thing from helpful and I hope that I remember these rules when it comes to other peoples grief. I was with Grandma her last 45 minutes for nearly the whole time. I told her stories that I remembered from when I was a child, I stroked her hair and told her what an amazing woman she was and how much I loved her. I told her that it was ok to go. I left for a few minutes and when I came back Kenzi was sitting with her, I noticed a significant change in her breathing so I told Kenzi I didn't want her to see or hear Grandma die so she should leave the room. I had the strong urge to DO SOMETHING, I went to get a pill that was supposed to help with her breathing when a voice came into my mind that said, "Don't, just be with her.". So I did. It wouldn't have changed anything anyways, she was going no matter what. I put down the pill and I went to her bedside. I stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. She took her final breath and I knew it was but I had to be sure so I checked for a pulse, there was nothing, I rubbed her chest, nothing, I checked her pulse one more time just to be sure. Tears streaming down my face because I knew as I had from the sound of her final breath that she was gone. I felt her spirit leave and I know that she is happy being back with my Grandpa again. Some have told me what an honor it is that I was there, and how I must be so glad that I was with her. While part of me is, that doesn't make it any easier to go through. We will lay her to rest on Saturday, Grandma Vera was nearly 90 years old and she was the last of my Grandparents. Death is hard to deal with, but I have felt the prayers said on my behalf, they have bolstered me up. I'm so grateful for my faith, the knowledge that families can be eternal, that I will once again get to be hugged and called Breezy by my Grandparents. I miss them very much, but I am so grateful to know that I will see them again.


  1. Beautifully said. I was with a dear friend when she passed so I understand that it is a sacred experience, hard to explain and hard to deal with sometimes.

  2. You're an amazing person Brianne. We've nearly lost my grandpa 3 or 4 times in the last few years, but even though he's pulled through each time we've gotten a glimpse at how hard it will be when it does happen. How sweet that your grandma passed away knowing how much you love and care for her. Love you sweetie.

  3. I am glad that I have known you a lot of my life. I lost both of my grandma's when I was a teenager.