Death was always something I heard about, but never experienced. I never thought it would be so hard to handle until I experienced the death of my grandmother. I had grown up with both my mother and father's moms, but neither of my grandfathers. One of my grandfathers lived in another state and passed away when I was a preteen. I even attended his funeral, but his death didn't impact me the way my grandmother's did.


It was like part of my life had been taken away from me. It was a random Saturday morning, while laying in bed. I received a call from my mother who asked me what I was doing and how my weekend was going. It was a very normal conversation that we had almost every single day, until she broke the news to me. She told me that she had to tell me something, and I asked her what it was.

As she began to tell me, I thought it was some kind of sick joke she chose to play on me. Unfortunately, it wasn't a joke. She told me that my grandmother had passed away the day before from a heart attack. As she began to go into detail about her death, which I guess she thought I would want to know (I didn't, it still haunts me), I cried like I never had before. 

Tears poured from my eyes nonstop, and I thought my heart would burst from my chest. I muted the phone and my mom kept talking, trying to fill the silence that I'd left her with for about a minute. I decided that it was time to hang up so I could just let the tears out, so I told her I couldn't handle talking about it anymore and that I had to go.

I hung up and finished up my crying, with thoughts of only my grandmother that I never imagined losing. My mom called me back, asking me if I was okay and if I needed anything. Of course it was nothing she could do while all the way in Maryland, so I told her I was fine. For some reason, I thought I would be okay.

I even went to the library, but that led to more crying, and public tears are even more embarrassing than crying in private. I went to the cafeteria, which led to more tears, so I decided to put my feelings into poems that I kept in the Notes section on my phone. This wasn't the solution, but it helped to write out how I was feeling, which is something I've gotten into the habit of doing. 


If we back it up to the summer before that current semester, my grandmother had been hospitalized. She had medical issues for a while, stemming from her unhealthy eating habits that my father tried to manage for her. It was really hard to see her in that state. It was shocking, and aggravating, because I never imagined this happening to her.

She was so kind, loving and gentle, although she wore black lipstick and had long red nails. It made me mad to see her getting worse, before she would be able to get better. Her situation would be different every time I would visit, which was often because I wasn't working that summer. When I returned to school, she was back home and I thought she was getting better.

The most upsetting thing was the realization that I hadn't called her at all while I still had time. I didn't even take advantage of the time I still had with her, even if it was only through phone calls or pictures I could've sent to her. I didn't do anything. No texts or calls, nothing, and it broke my heart because I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. 

Bargaining + Depression

I thought, maybe if I could just call her and get my final goodbye, it would make it a little easier to accept her death. I knew that wasn't true because even at her funeral I couldn't approach her casket. I knew I wouldn't become okay with her death, ever, because she meant so much to me. A part of me really left the moment I heard she was gone.

It would never be the same after that day. I thought I wouldn't cry like I'd cried the day I got the news but I was wrong. I cried so many tears the day of her funeral, it seemed impossible. 


  Sitting at the main table of the wake, I watched my family interact in front of me. I smiled, because for once we were all together. Although it was under the worst circumstances possible, I was finally able to see my new niece/goddaughter. New life had come into the world less than a month ago, and we were sitting there together, finally.

We even had Thanksgiving at my grandmothers house that year, which was something we never did. I decided that there was no reason to continue my sadness because she was no longer suffering. I knew that she was in pain all of those days she spent in the hospital, yet I selfishly hoped she would stay for me. I accepted her death, because I knew she was okay with it. She's smiling down on me and she's proud. 

So what did I learn from my grandmothers death? Acceptance. I learned to accept the things I can't control, because they're just that: UNCONTROLLABLE. I looked beyond my selfishness and accepted the death of one of the most important people in my life. I know that I will never be the same, but I have learned from this life changing experience.

Now that I've experienced death firsthand, I know what real strength is. Real strength is watching your father say goodbye to his mother for the last time. Real strength is returning to your regularly scheduled program that is college, after such a traumatizing time in your life. I did it, so I know that I can do anything. I will do everything I plan to do because my grandmother would want me to. So there's that lesson.