5 Powerful Ways To Deal With Death, Grief & Loss

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How to Deal With the Death of a Grandparent

Three Parts:

Dealing with the death of grandparent may be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. It may be doubly hard because it could be your first experience with losing a loved one. Though the ache in your heart won't magically go away, you can take steps to accept your feelings and to learn to cope with losing a person who is near and dear to you by talking about it, using your family for support, and returning to your life. Your memories of your dear grandparent will stay with you long after he or she has passed, and you will always be able to honor the memory of the person you love. If you want to know how to deal with the death of a grandparent, see Step 1 to get started.


Accepting Your Feelings

  1. Take as much time as you need.Don't listen to the people who tell you that there's a timeline when it comes to grief. Some people take a lot less time than others when it comes to moving on after the passing of a loved one, and you shouldn't feel down on yourself if you feel like you've been in grief for a long time. The important thing is that you take the time to fully process your feelings instead of going through the motions of moving on right away, and repressing how you really feel.
    • Know that there's no firm line you cross from grieving to "moving on," and that moving on doesn't mean that you've forgotten your grandparent and are no longer sad about the loss. Every person should take as much time as he or she needs.
    • Of course, if many, many months have gone by, or even a year or two, and you feel like you're still so deep in grief that you're finding it hard to function, then getting professional help could be a way to move forward.
  2. Let your emotions out.Another way to accept your feelings is to cry, scream, be angry, or just to do whatever you need to do to get your feelings out. You don't want to hold back your tears or repress your emotions because that will lead you to have a harder time coping down the line. You may be wary of showing your emotions, especially if a grieving parent or your other grandparent needs you for support, but you should let those feelings out some time, whether it's with a friend, an understanding family member, or by yourself.
    • Taking time just to cry can be very therapeutic. That said, don't feel guilty or confused if you're not the crying type and you can't find tears even though you're deeply sad.
    • This can also be a good time to write in your journal about how you're feeling. It can help you channel your feelings in a more organized and quiet way.
  3. Be aware of your triggers.Of course, some times of the year or some places will make it harder for you to cope with the loss of a grandparent. Maybe you should avoid the lake where you used to go fishing with your grandfather, or the diner where your grandmother always took you to get ice cream, for a while until you feel ready to face your favorite places. Maybe Thanksgiving or Christmas will be especially hard because you associate those holidays with spending time with your grandparents. Knowing what those triggers are can help you either avoid them, or find extra support if you can't.
    • This doesn't mean that you should stop doing all of the things you loved to do with your grandparent forever. It just means you may need a bit of time away from those things until you feel more stable and at peace.
    • Unfortunately, some things like holidays may always be a little bit harder. But with time, as well as support from your family, you will be able to enjoy them again while thinking of your grandparent at the same time.
  4. Remember to take care of yourself.One important thing to keep in mind as you deal with the loss of your grandparent is that you shouldn't forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough rest — without spending all day in bed — eat three healthy meals a day, and take the time to go outside and to socialize. Taking care of other family members may be important, but you shouldn't completely sacrifice your own well-being in the processes. Showering regularly and maintaining your hygiene can also help you feel more in control of your life. Though you will still feel unsettled, sticking to a healthy routine can make a big difference.
    • Even if you feel absolutely horrible, just showering and putting on clean clothes can make you feel better than spending all day in bed without grooming yourself.
    • Getting enough rest can help you feel more in control of your emotions. If you're exhausted from not getting enough sleep or feeling wonky from sleeping too much, then it will be harder for you to cope.

Honoring the Memory of Your Beloved Grandparent

  1. Learn more about your grandparent.Once your parents or other family members are ready, don't be shy about asking them about anything you didn't know about your grandparent. Talk to them about where he or she grew up, what his or her job was like, what stories you may not have heard about him or her, or just any other details that spring to mind when your beloved grandparent comes up. Many grandchildren tend to think of their grandparents as kind old people instead of people with a rich history and background, especially if they lose them at a young age; having a sense of the whole person you lost can help you feel like you're more in control of the situation.
  2. Look at photos of your grandparent's life.Though your beloved grandparent may not have had a Facebook account that chronicled his or her life from birth until his or her final years, looking through a family album can help you find peace and to get a better understanding of the person your grandparent was. There may not be a million photographs available, so you should really linger over each and every photo and memory made by your grandparent. Go through the album with a family member, who can help provide some context, and take comfort in the fact that your grandparent lived a full and rich life.
    • If the photos aren't organized in a photo album but are sitting in a box, you can even make a project out of it and create a photo album that honors your grandparent's memory chronologically.
    • Of course, this activity will lead to some more tears. Make sure you're ready before you do it.
  3. Treasure the keepsakes that your grandparent gave to you.Take a look at the gifts, photos, sweaters, books, jewelry, or other treasured keepsakes that your grandparent gave you. If it's something you can wear, wear it for a while. If not, display it prominently. Don't think that you have to get rid of these items or put them out of sight to "get over" the loss of your grandparent. You can keep them near and dear to your heart and honor the memory of the person you love.
    • If there's something special your grandparent gave you, like a pendant, a figurine, or a written letter, you can even carry it on your person for a while and turn to it for comfort. Though it may seem silly and symbolic, it can help you grieve.
  4. Visit your grandparent's grave if you're ready.If you think that visiting the grave of your grandparent will help you grieve and have a quiet conversation with the one you lost, then you should make a trip there when you feel ready, either alone or with family members. If you're really young and haven't been to a grave before, then you should talk to your parents about it and see if you're ready. If you're older and think that this will help you honor the memory of the person you lost, then you should take this step if you can.
    • Bringing flowers or whatever is appropriate in your culture can help you pay tribute to the person you lost.
  5. Talk to other people who lost their grandparent.You may also be able to honor the memory of your grandparent by talking to other people who experienced a similar loss. If you feel like your family members may be too emotionally drained to talk about it, you can talk to friends who have experienced a similar pain and who can help you get through this hard time. Though no two grieving processes are exactly the same, having someone to talk to can make you feel less alone.

Moving Forward

  1. Know that you'll never fully "move on." You shouldn't think that there's a negative connotation associated with the term "moving on," or that it means that you will be able to cast thoughts of your beloved grandparent aside and happily move on about your life. It just means that, while you'll always have a special place for your grandparent in your heart, that you won't feel like the pain is completely holding you back from living your life.
    • Don't look at moving on as somehow being disloyal to your beloved grandparent. Look at it as a positive development that will help you live a healthy life.
  2. Change your routine.One thing you can do if you feel like you're in a rut is to switch things up a bit. If you do all of the same things you always did when your grandparent was alive, then you may find it a bit harder to move on than if you switched things up a bit. You can spend more time with your friends and family, take up a new hobby, or discover a love for volunteering or reading that you never knew you had.
    • Though you should avoid making drastic changes or big life decisions in a time of grief, making small changes here and there can help you feel like you're getting into a new and positive rhythm.
  3. Spend more time with your family members.Another way to feel more comforted and to move forward is to spend more time with your close family members. It's not a cliché that a death in the family can really bring loved ones closer together, and you should take this as an opportunity to spend more time with the ones you care about and to make more family-oriented plans. This can help you in the grieving process and can also bring you comfort and stability.
    • Maybe you don't normally come home for the holidays or you're not the type to talk to your parents on the phone multiple times a week. Try to increase the amount of time you spend communicating with your family and you'll see that it brings you strength in this difficult time.
  4. Return to doing the things you and your grandparent used to love to do together.Though it's natural that you may want to avoid some of the activities you used to do with your beloved grandparent, such as hiking in your favorite wooded area, making dessert, or just watching baseball, after a while, returning to these activities should feel natural and should even make you happy. Don't avoid doing the things you used to love forever, or you may never feel like you're progressing with your grief. When you feel ready, venture out to do those things you loved to do on your own or with another family member or friend.
    • Though it won't be the same as doing the activity with your grandparent, it's a way to channel the fond memory you have about being with the one you love.
  5. Get more help if you need it.If you feel like you're still grieving and feeling just as bad as you did when you first got the sad news after many months have gone by, then you may need to seek additional help. You can see a grief counsellor, go to group therapy, or even talk to a doctor if you feel like nothing is working. There's no shame in admitting that you need more help getting through this difficult time, and it will only do you good to take as many measures as you can to move forward.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do you tell an adult granddaughter her grandmother (whom she also calls her best friend because they have such a close relationship) that she is dying from cancer?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Be honest with her. Don't hide it from her; it will cause less grief later on, and she can have the opportunity to make better use of the time they have left.
  • Question
    I have a great-grandpa who is going to die soon. When we left the nursing home, my dad looked like he was going to cry. How can I help him?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Tell your dad you are there for him if he needs a chat, and give him a big hug.
  • Question
    I lost my grandparent recently. I was with him when he died, so I am blaming myself and struggling with grief. How can I let go and move forward with my life?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    What should I do when it's still hard over a year later?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It's not unusual to still feel sad about the loss of a grandparent over a year later. If it is interfering with school, work, or friends, you should ask for help from a parent or a professional therapist who can help you get past this.
  • Question
    What if you still feel bad?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    There is nothing wrong with feeling bad. There is no set time for grieving, allow the grief take its course, until you slowly change the pain into a hallowed memory. Loss of a loved one will make you sad but you still have your whole life ahead of you. Take the best memories and live life fully in honor of those.
  • Question
    How can I deal with blaming myself for not visiting my grandmother often as I would have liked to?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Write down your feelings and speak to someone you know and trust. Everybody wishes they had done more when someone close dies, but rather than blame yourself, remember and cherish the good times you had.
  • Question
    Is there anything that I can do to help me get through the first few days?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Try thinking about the happy moments you had with them. If that is too painful, try thinking of any happy moment in your life, even if it is not related to that grandparent.
  • Question
    I am still upset about my grandparents' deaths over a year later. What should I do?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    First of all, grieving can be a long process with lots of ups and downs. It's not abnormal to still have periods of extreme sadness when you think of your grandparents, even a year later, especially if you were really close to them. That said, speak to someone you trust about your feelings and consider help from a specialist if the sadness is debilitating.
  • Question
    What if your mom is sad and you are afraid that she goes to depression because of a grandparent's death?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Everybody deals with grief in their own way. There's no way that you could lose someone close to you and not feel alone and maybe a little depressed. The best thing you can do for her at the moment is to make sure she is keeping up with her daily routines that she usually does and spend as much time as you can with her. She will never truly move on, none of us really do when it comes to death, but time heals all wounds. And in the time you are healing, you just have to try and be your happiest self. It can also help to recall all of the good memories, to help her to remember the best things about the person you've both lost.
  • Question
    How can I stop other people from talking about it without my having to say anything about her?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Say something like, "If you don't mind, I would rather not have you talk about loss of loved ones right now. I'm not ready." Just be honest and they will understand!
Unanswered Questions
  • How do I deal with the impending death of a grandparent?
  • I live far away from my family. I came home to say goodbye to my grandpa who's dying. How can I help my mom without having to move back home?
  • How do I deal with an anniversary of the death of a grandparent?
  • My grandfather has just passed away and I'm at his funeral. Every time I look at the body I become sick. What can I do to stop this?
  • How do I help a child deal with the death of a grandparent?
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  • Your parents will understand if you randomly break out crying because you miss them, though they may join in with you.

Tell your grandmother/father or your parents you love them often so they know it!

  • On their birthday maybe sing a quiet happy birthday or make your icon/background on your computer their favorite thing.
  • Cry a river if you need to, so you can pass the sadness but never forget them.
  • Don't feel bad if everyone else has moved on and you're still upset. It's different for different people. Just know that they loved you and that your remaining family still does.
  • If your grandparent(s) are old, and you know that they could die, tell them goodnight and that you love them every night before bed or whenever that way you know that they died with you in his/her heart and that you love them.
  • If they are in a nursing home see them as often as possible before death.

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