By Jordan McNeil
I’ve reached a time of the year where I’m actively trying to avoid thinking of or lingering on some things. Most of the 2015 year was a pretty rough time for my family — there was a lot of stress, illness and loss that stretched across multiple households.
Last fall, my grandma passed away after fighting sickness and memory loss. The weeks before and after were trying, but once I made it through them, I thought I was good. I had done my grieving and would be able to continue on in my life all right. Of course, it’s not that simple, as I found out.
This past week marked one year since my grandma’s sister passed, after a rapid decline in her health. The reminder sent me into the cycle of trying to monitor my thoughts and keep them on absolutely anything else, so I wouldn’t have to reflect on the fact that we lost two great family members in just a few months.
My family on my grandma’s side is really close. Most of us live relatively near to each other, and I’ve grown up with always having my grandma and four of her seven siblings around, seeing them yearly at Thanksgiving, reunions and other family get-togethers. Last year was a tough time for all of us.
But it’s not just the reminder of a sad anniversary that sends me back into moments of grief — the most random of things can take me there too. An exact week after my grandma was gone, I had a sudden and clear thought that “Oh, it’s been a week since she died” out of nowhere, and I almost ran out of my class to get some tears out. I’ll be on my commute to school, and my wandering train of thought will somehow go from the song on my radio to an image of my grandma in the barn with the baby goats.
My sister moved into my grandma’s house at the beginning of the year, and it’s weird sometimes to refer to it as “Megan’s house” opposed to “Nene’s house.” But then, still calling it “Nene’s house” feels weird too. Some days it’s weird to be down there, sitting in the living room, stealing my sister’s Internet speeds and not see my grandma come around the corner. Or for her not to holler out “Hello?,” when I walk through the back door.
Grief is weird to me, and I don’t know if it’ll ever stop being weird. I know there’s no right way to grieve. That it differs from person to person, and that, I think, adds to the weirdness. Personally, when I’m in a tough spot, I write it out — I did an awful lot of writing while my grandma was sick. But most times I’m just simply fighting the tears and the sadness, tamping it down with pure stubbornness. I know there’s no one right way, but some days when I have a clear head, I think this probably isn’t the healthiest method of dealing with it.
Sometimes, I just want someone to tell me that it’s all right. What I feel, and how I react to it, is normal and natural and perfectly fine. I want to know that I have the option to burst into tears randomly and not have to worry about what that looks like. That it’s OK to feel this way.
So for anyone else who is fighting with their grief, I just want you to know that it’s all right. It’s normal and natural and perfectly fine. It’s OK to feel this way.