I have to be honest, I don't want to write this...but I just feel like I have to.

You never truly feel prepared for something like this and I don't think I will ever stop stumbling around trying to find the right words to say. However, in a Facebook tribute to my grandfather who sadly passed away two days ago, I realized people don't expect "right", they probably don't really expect anything, but they can appreciate being "real" and vulnerable.

Normally I write these "open letters" trying to offer up some personal experience in the hopes it will be helpful to someone, somewhere. However, now I guess it is my turn to be seeking advice because I have no clue what to do or where to go from here.

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Other than just typing my thoughts and feelings out here to all of you, I really am at a loss of next steps and just how to get through this.

My grandpa is a major part of who I am and will forever be. I'm so crushed and just can not stop thinking about him, or about my grandma who now has to carry on without him, or myself and all my cousins, his grandchildren who now have to go through life without him being there for our graduations, our weddings, more great-grandchildren.

I'm also so thankful to have had him as such a close part of my life for so long. He was there for every sporting event, every homecoming, every prom dress, each graduation, each boyfriend, each breakup, everything. I remember him even braving the hundreds of stairs at Van Andel Arena to watch me get my degree. That man would have moved mountains for anyone, even those he didn't know.

My mind has not stopped racing, my chest has been so tight and there has been a lump in my throat holding back tears for the past three days. I can't stop thinking about the things that went unsaid, the things I wish I would have done, worrying if I was a good enough grandchild.

I try to continue on and get back to work, hoping for things to be "normal" again, but they're not. They probably never will be. It's another thing to get used to in this "new normal" we're all so sick of hearing about.

So how do you get there? How do you get used to this? How do you carry on and try to be there and be strong for the people in your life who need you to be?

I've tried retail therapy (shoutout to Target), I've tried just drowning it in wine (not recommended but also it's not like it's not helping at least a little), I've tried sobbing until I have no tears left, I've tried everything you think you're supposed to do...now what's next?

My cousin commented on one of my posts recently and she said "I know it's so so hard to lose a grandparent you've never known a life without..." and that's when it hit me. I have never known a life without my grandpa. I've never known a life without his smile, his laugh, his endless corny jokes and in a matter of days, it's all just gone.

I know it gets better with time, I know he's at peace and all the things that are supposed to give someone comfort in times like this but damn...to be blunt, this just really sucks.

So if you are still here and you have been through this, this is my first experience with a loss at this kind of magnitude and I'm really just at a loss on how to deal. I know we have not known each other long but any advice you've got, I am all ears.

Thank you for letting me vent,

Maitlynn

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