It’s not supposed to happen. Our grandchildren are supposed to grow, thrive, and reach their full potential. When they’re suddenly gone, how can we cope with the shock and grief?
Our family was gathered for a birthday party when we got the call– my niece had been killed in a roll-over auto accident. She was 17.
Our house flew into a frenzy of activity. It wasn’t until after her funeral, when the shock was beginning to subside, that it hit us. My parents could not speak of the death of their granddaughter. Months later, my father brought it up and broke down as if it had just happened.
The death of any child is tragic but when we are aging, the order seems to be out of sync. Why did they go? Why are we still here?
- We deny the loss and isolate ourselves from others dealing with the same. We may not speak or even think about it.
- When the day to day realization of the loss sinks in, we can become angry. We need someone to blame.
- Next can come feelings of guilt, “We should have done…” To prevent the death. Why didn’t we do things differently?
- Depression usually follows. We have no control. We cannot bring them back.
- Last, we hope to come to acceptance. Not happiness, but a quieted state of permanent loss. There’s nothing to fight but much to miss.
Comforting Our Children
When a grandparent loses a grandchild, his or her adult child lost something even closer. We may go through a period of quiet between us as each one muddles through their own grieving process. When they’re ready, we can reach out. Our adult children may also go through a period of fear. They may become overprotective of any remaining children and experience outbursts of tears or anger when the slightest event comes to one of them.
Grandparents remain parents in times of joy and grief. We may need to set aside our own progress for a time to aid our hurting children. The subject and the process is not kind nor convenient, no matter the age of the lost loved-one. However, our united hearts connect to find a place of refuge.