Monday Musings: It’s Okay To Grieve

Veteran's Day 2014

Welcome to ‘Monday Musings’!

A new segment from Teenplicity, ‘Monday Musings’ will explore personal interests and thoughts in a multitude of ways. Whether it be through lists, fan interaction, or discussion posts, each week will offer a different topic and new perspective from Teenplicity about what is on our mind. The range of topics, just like our interests, will be vast. Some might be familiar, as it could highlight previous feature stars, while others will discuss uncharted subjects for Teenplicity. They might be fun posts with a silly twist or a more serious discussion about something that could concern you.

The goal is for Teenplicity to become more engaged and involved with our readers. The Teenplicity Team is made up of fans, just like you. Let us know what you care about – a show, a film, music, an event or aspect of your life. There are no limits for what can be explored in ‘Monday Musings’ or how we present it to you.

***TRIGGER WARNING for discussion about death and grieving.

One thing that a lot of people tend to skip over when someone is dying or just passes away is that grieving never really ends. People try to offer comfort by repeating, “They are at peace now,” or “Time heals all wounds.” But what people seem to forget is that while the pain may become less frequent or not be as sharp, it sometimes is present in the back of your mind, waiting for an opportunity to come to the forefront and remind you it’s there because of something small you saw.

I was well versed in the words of comfort.

What only close friends know is that I worked at a funeral home. For five years I dealt with people mourning day in and day out. The different stages of grief were on full display for me at any given moment and when visitors would seek comfort, I would be there the best I could, a representative of the funeral home and a friendly face to offer kind words.

Families would return in the days, months, and years following the passing of a loved one and I would see how differently they all handled things. Some still found themselves choked up as they would tell me a story, while others were able to smile and embrace the memories with much less pain surrounding them.

I truly thought that my experiences from work meant I was well-versed in the grieving process. I saw it constantly, I knew how it affected people, and I heard the general advice or saw the tools needed to grieve. But I was naïve.

There was a fun tradition that my grandpa and I would do every year. For Veteran’s Day, all veterans ate free at Applebee’s.

If you knew my grandpa, then you would know that food was always on his mind. Seriously. My mom or I would go over to his house every morning to let his dog out and the first thing he would say was, “Good morning. What’s for dinner tonight?” So a free meal? Possibly his favorite thing in the world.

Every year, we would make it a point to try to go together. Most times it was just the two of us, with the occasional appearance by my mom or the rest of my family. It was special and it connected him with people of all ages who had similar experiences or who respected him.

This year hit me harder than I expected.

Veteran's Day 2014

Veteran’s Day 2014

In February of 2017, my grandpa passed away.

My life turned upside-down in less than two weeks. My normal routine of walking next door, letting his dog out, and having dinner with my grandpa every day suddenly ended. One of my best friends was now gone forever.

The process of grieving death which I had been so familiar with at work was suddenly incomprehensible.

In the months following my grandpa’s death, my family decided that it would be best to sell our house which was right next door to his. Doing so allowed us the ability to move to Florida.

There are a lot of things to love and hate about Florida but one thing I cannot deny is that it was the healthiest decision for myself, mentally and emotionally, to help grieve my grandpa’s death. I was able to thrust myself into work at one of the most magical places on Earth and give myself a distraction from wallowing in my pain every day. It gave me the ability to shift focus. What it also gave me was the opportunity to step back, reflect, and accept.

The weird thing about acceptance is that I expected the pain to be easier or for the pain to go away altogether. I know, that was naïve too. But so much of media and society seemed to tell me that you stop feeling the pain or the hurt when you accept it. That you stop crying or feeing down about them. It made the people I met at work – the ones down the line that still got upset or cried – the exception.

Maybe, in reality, they’re the rule or there is no rule at all.

Maybe the acceptance is that they’re gone but you will still feel pain sometimes and that’s okay. It just means you loved them with so much of you.

I still cry when I think about my grandpa sometimes. The ache of his loss and the empty seat at the other side of my couch are still there. Not having him shout answers alongside me as I watch “Jeopardy” or “Wheel of Fortune” blankets my living room in heavy silence during commercial breaks. And I’ve come to accept that these things will probably always have a lingering presence in my life. The urge to call his phone number and have it ring and ring and ring like it used to when he was alive comes to my mind from time to time but it’s much less frequent.

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I will always grieve my grandpa. He was someone I could look up to and aspire to be like with how honest and loyal he was. My grandpa was someone that I could share secret jokes with, that I could be myself with, and someone I could talk with. I can honestly say that he was one of my best friends.

This Veteran’s Day hit harder because of two reasons. One being that I’m not throwing myself into work and surrounding myself with such a distracting atmosphere, allowing myself to truly notice and recognize his absence. The second reason is that I spent this past Veteran’s Day in New York, my home forever, and every little thing reminded me of the heavy ache that his loss still exudes in my life.

What I learned through all of this is that it’s okay to still be grieving. The frequency of the painful feelings will lessen. When they do appear, they will hurt just as much as they did before. It’s okay to allow yourself moments to embrace the heartbreak. But you learn to live with the loss.

There is no one-way to grieve. Everyone reacts to events differently and while one person’s way of grieving works for them, it may not work for you. It’s okay to still grieve when something reminds you of them – a holiday, a song, or even a restaurant.

One thing you shouldn’t do is let grief consume you or give it the ability to keep you from accomplishing things in life. If you are grieving, there is no shame in finding help.

If you find your grief overwhelming, the Center for Complicated Grief from the Columbia School of Social Work may be able to help. Their website explains the different kinds of grief, offers a way to seek help from a therapist, and has resources to aid in your grief or in the grief of friends.

Grief can come in many forms and from many different things. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a pet, a drastic life event, or something else, it is important to take care of yourself as you grieve.

The Grief Recovery Hotline offers counseling, referrals, support, and more. You can call at 1-800-445-4808.

Did you like ‘Monday Musings’? If so, you’re in luck! Each week, Teenplicity will feature a new ‘Monday Musings’ post about things we are looking forward to, topics close to our hearts, or suggestions from readers!
Do you have a suggestion for ‘Monday Musings’? You can let Teenplicity know what you’d like to see on Twitter or anonymously on Tumblr! Or you can directly contact Mary Ayers on Twitter and anonymously on Tumblr or Brie Garrett on Twitter and Tumblr

23. Television and radio production graduate. || I think some people underestimate the range and variety of things that interest younger generations. I'm determined not to.

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