Recesses of Heart: Kelly’s Open Diary

How Losing A Grandparent Changes Your Life

Many of you who read this probably don’t know that my grandmother passed away two weeks ago today. She had dementia for many years and probably hasn’t remembered my name for the last five or six of them. People ask me how I’m doing, and I say I’m fine most of the time, because most of the time I am. My grandma is no longer suffering. Her soul is free, and all of that good stuff. Here’s the thing though, I’m not taking it well.

My grandfather and step-grandmother on my mom’s side passed away about a year ago, a month apart from each other. They were so in love that they basically just went together, and that’s sweet and reassuring to think about. Now, they lived in Florida, and in all honesty, I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen them about a handful of times in my entire life. It still hurt though, but it wasn’t as bad because I still had my dad’s mom. I still had my grandma here, and even though she had no idea who I was or how I was related to her, I still had time to see her and let her know that I was still here and still loved her.

Now, on top of this, I lost my real grandfather on my dad’s side, my step-grandfather on my dad’s side, and my real grandmother on my mom’s side when I was young. These three grandparents that have passed away in the last year were the only grandparents I ever really knew, and I will fully admit that I’m not sure they ever really knew me anyways. They didn’t spend time with me, really, but they were still mine. They were still the only example of grandparents I ever had, and my grandmother who just passed was the one I was closest to out of all of them.

Part of my trouble with losing her is that I never really realized how alike we were until the night before she passed. We’re both head strong, stubborn, and at times can be vain, but we try to do the best we can. I’m the only child/grandchild that picked up singing and dancing in our genes line, as it seems everyone else went a more scientific or logical route. Her and I were really just artists in some way, shape, or form. We model for pictures and strike a pose when necessary just because we want to feel fabulous, and we don’t care who’s watching. We don’t take crap from men, we stand on our own two feet, and we deal with life the only way we know how: being strong or pretending that we’re strong anyways.

Realizing how alike my grandmother and I are basically just shot a stake through my heart, because here I was, trying not to care about the woman I call grandmother who no longer remembered my name, all of a sudden wanting to just know everything about her. And it makes me angry. I wonder why she was sometimes so vain and hard to get close to, and why she couldn’t spend more time with me, and why on earth she had to forget all of us form this horrible disease. Why couldn’t I have had a grandparent who was a role model for me, and actually wanted to spend time with me? Why does that always hurt so much when people don’t want to get close to you?

The horrible thing is that I’m completely the same way. I close people out when I’m hurt, and I push people away when they hurt me more, even if they don’t mean to. It’s such a natural, vulnerable, human thing to do. It’s a protective instinct, and I know that I do it all the time because I’ve been hurt before. We’ve all been hurt before, so we protect ourselves, even from our own family. And my grandmother was hurt worse than I could ever imagine in her life time, and she was so much stronger and so much more vulnerable for it.

The worst part of all of this is that my grandmother was the last one to go. There are no longer any grandparents. I don’t have an entire generation of my family anymore. They’re all just gone, wiped away from the earth. I went on with my normal life, and that’s just the most awful thing because in reality, your life isn’t normal anymore. All of a sudden, you understand that you will never get to be there for them again when they most need you. You will never have another harmony session in the car, even with her clucking (yes, you heard that right, clucking like a chicken) in the back seat of the car. When you meet the one, you know the one, you will not have any grandparents alive to see you get married, or be successful in your career. There will be no flowers for your grandparents to pin to their suits or wear on their wrists at your wedding, and there will be no grandparent generation cheering you on from the sidelines as you get a promotion. Your children will never meet their great grandparents, and your grandparents will never meet your children. They won’t be alive to help you make your first home feel like a real home. They will never be there in physical form from this day forward… and that is so difficult to live with.

In a matter of three days, my grandmother was gone. We got the call on Thursday, and went to see her Saturday. She was completely unconscious, unresponsive, and just laying in bed, breathing. She was no longer the happy, singing, laughing woman I knew, but rather the woman who was waiting to go. How do you say goodbye to their entire generation in one afternoon? How do you cope with losing an entire generation in a matter of three days? In reality, it wasn’t just one afternoon or three days; it was years. Years that I wasn’t there, or years that I wish I could have spent getting to know her. How do you let that go?

The truth of the matter is that you don’t. It doesn’t really let go of you, and it doesn’t ease it’s hold for a while. The woman who I am so alike passed without me even knowing her, and all of a sudden you just become this over emotional mess because you’re thinking and dreaming of all the times you could have had, and all the times you wish you had spent with them. You’re driving yourself insane trying to understand why you couldn’t just go and see her one day, or two days more. And when you add regular life drama to that, and feeling as if you’re alone in some way on this matter, you feel insane. You feel like no one really understands, your emotions are a hot mess, and you have no idea why you even feel the way you do. The only thing you do know is that you just lost one of the most important people in your life, because you just lost an entire generation of people that supposedly loved you.

It changes you for better or for worse, and sometimes it’s really not pretty. I don’t feel pretty at all, and I feel like a mess. I’m not even sure I’ve even really, truly cried about it yet, because I don’t even think I’ve had a chance to. It changes you in ways that you can’t imagine, and in ways that you never even predicted. I honestly thought that I would be fine, and here I am… an emotional hurricane of destruction falling all over itself.

I don’t post this for pity, and I don’t post this for the “I’m sorry for your loss” statements, because in reality, I don’t want any of that. Seriously, if I hear one more person say that they’re sorry for my loss, I might explode. I post this for me, for others who have gone through the same emotions, and to just be able to release it all into the world. Maybe even someday my grandma will see it… maybe she’s even looking over my shoulder right now as I write it. Who really knows? What I do know is that I love you grandma, and I wish I could have had a life time with you. Sweet dreams, and sing me a lullaby tonight, will you?



8 thoughts on “Recesses of Heart: Kelly’s Open Diary

  1. May she Rest in Peace. I get what you mean. I don’t have any living grandparents. They all passed on in the early 90s.My regret has always been not getting to know them. We didn’t speak the same language(long story) so we never really talked though I do remember what they looked like and the few moments I spent with them. It doesn’t really get better but it helps to take comfort in the fact that they are no longer suffering(mine were sick in the end). The memories also help. Hang in there ❤


    • I understand that pain all too well. Memories definitely help, and I like to think they’re still here in some way, shape, or form, guiding us to where we need to be. That thought usually helps me get through the roughest days. This holiday will be rougher than normal, I think, but she’s still here. They’re all still here… somehow. ❤


  2. Hug Kelly. I am really glad you shared this. It’s important to share this and not bottle it up. Emotions during the initial stages of loss are crazy, no other way to put it. And even if people “get it” they kinda don’t. We all deal with it differently because we are all different. I just want to encourage you to not take that path of regretting. I get having regrets, but don’t dwell on them. That alone will drive you crazy. I feel like we like to think we would do things different had we known what was coming, but a majority of the time we wouldn’t. But that’s just me.

    Many hugs to you lady. Vent to me any time you want. And if you wanna vent about the stupid stuff people say to someone who lost a loved one, oh I am all ears. I get that people aren’t sure what to say but my gosh…think before you speak. Ha.


  3. My Condolences to you. It will be a year on the 21st of this month that I lost my grandmother to Cancer. It has been a long tough road to say the least since she was the one who raised me and was my confidant. I was also there along with my family when she took her last breaths of life. It broke me into a million pieces, but I know she is in Heaven not suffering anymore. Time will pass and it may get easier but it doesn’t change the fact that she is not here physically and I can’t call her to tell her how my day is our how my kids are doing. Or call her to cry about my mom being difficult in her ways. She was my rock and without her I feel empty…I Pray your memory of your grandmother will bring you joy whenever you need it.


  4. I just came across your blog and was touched by your post. I have lost all of my grandparents over the years and both of my parents this year, my mother from Alzheimer’s. So, I can relate to the feelings you shared. It really is life changing when those who have paved the road for us are no longer there. For me it was like I lost my tether that grounded me. The good news is that over time you will still find pieces of them. I have found them in the meals I make or the way my son and I scratch our heads when we are concentrating. (my sister too, it’s hilarious when you get us all in a room trying to solve a problem) You will find them in the way you love others, I have. It will take time, but you will find them. I wish you peace and comfort through your grieving process.


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