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Grief--My True Story of the Death of My Grandfather and How I was able to Cope

Updated on June 19, 2013
Janine Huldie profile image

Janine is a published author in Only Trollops Shave Above the Knees, appears on The Huffington Post and at Confessions of A Mommyaholic.

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Losing My Grandfather, My Best Friend

It was February 14, 1999 and I wasn't even 22 years old yet. The day started like any other day, but by the end of this day, I would forever be changed and lose the first person I was so very close to in my life, my grandfather. It was Valentine's Day too and the irony of losing my very, First Valentine would not go unnoticed.

Two weeks earlier my grandfather, the man that helped raise me had fallen and broken his hip. He was in his 80's and was having problems with his kidneys even before the fall and the broken hip. The doctors had told him from his kidney problems that he would most likely have to go on dialysis in the next 6 months or so. So when he fell, it seemed to only acerbate his kidney issues. He was admitted into the hospital and normally they would perform surgery for a broken hip within a day or 2 at the latest. My poor grandfather was told he might either have pneumonia or even worse tuberculosis and that until they were sure surgery could not be performed. He suffered for a week before the surgery was actually done to repair his broken hip and was actually misdiagnosed having never even had pneumonia or tuberculous.

Before and following surgery, my grandfather was coherent and able to communicate with us just fine. The day after the surgery they tried to get him out of bed to do normal physical therapy and he was unable to do it. The following day they tried again and yet again he was unable. Well, it turned out my grandfather had suffered from blood clots on his spine that formed from sitting too long without movement for the week that he had not been able to get the surgery on his hip. We were told he may never actually be able to walk again from this. Plus, from his prior kidney issues, he was now needing dialysis, because he was having kidney failure. My grandfather, it seemed knew all this deep down, and began to slip away and become unresponsive and was no longer coherent by the end of that week in a coma-like state.

Back to Sunday, February 14, 2009, our phone rang around 12:30 pm and it was the hospital. We were told my grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and his heart was failing. We needed to get there as soon as possible, because they felt he would not make it.

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Death and the Aftermath...

The hospital was right down the road from our house and I remember getting into my car immediately and it didn't even take me 5 minutes to get there after that fated call. I sat by his bedside for over 3 hours listening to the monitors and talking to him about everything and anything. At 4:30 pm, he took his last breath and I will never forget watching 2 teardrops come out of each of his eyes with the last breath. And with that my grandfather, my best friend and truly the one person in the world who knew me better than I knew myself was gone.

That was over 13 years ago and I can remember it like it was yesterday. Again, he was the first person I lost that was close to me and I remember being so numb after he died. I went to the hospital that day still having a grandfather and left not having one and having huge piece of my heart irrevocably broken on Valentine's Day nonetheless. It actually took me 2 months to cry and begin to admit just how heartbroken I truly was. And for quite a few years after, I mourned his loss and truly hated February 14th and Valentine's Day in general. I still miss him terribly, but time has somewhat lessened the grief for me. My husband and kids help so much too. Of course, when I look at them I wish he could have met and gotten to know them and they him too, but alas this was not meant to be.

However, I am Roman Catholic and do believe in angels though and will say this, I believe all the good things that have come to me has been because of him. So in a way, what has gotten me past a lot of my grief has been the belief that he is truly my guardian angel watching over me and making sure that nothing bad comes to harm me and has made sure to bring me other forms of happiness in the form of yet again my husband and kids. So quite possibly the reason they never met him is because he had to be no longer here and an angel for them to exist in my world. That might sound like a stretch and a bit crazy, but this is what I do believe.

Grief is a terrible feeling and has many different stages of course, but I will say this and not to diminish it, time does totally help in healing the wounds. It may not completely heal them, but it does truly help. Also, my religion and belief system has really helped make my grief better and manageable. This also being my first close loss made it even worse at the time. I have since lost others in our family, including my grandmother (my grandfather's wife) since and while these losses hurt and made me feel a lot of those same feelings of grief, being a bit older and wiser helped me cope better I think.

So in the end, time lessened those feelings, my age and my religion and/or belief system have definitely helped me in dealing with my grief and the loss of my loved ones. I do also realize I will lose others along the way too, but have to believe that there is a hereafter and I hope and pray that someday I will meet up with these lost, loved ones again. This again plays back on my religion and beliefs.

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    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Nellieanna, thank you so much for reading and sharing with me all you have dealt with as far as loss during your life so far. I am truly sorry for the loss of you husband and sister too. I do still think of both my grandfather and now my grandmother too (she was his wife and we lost her almost 3 years ago now) pretty much everyday. I try to look on the positive though having my husband and kids to dwell on and so very happy and thankful for them. But again loss is a part of everyone's lives unfortunately, but I imagine it is how you deal with these losses that make or break you. Thank you again and am now following you too :) :)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 5 years ago from TEXAS

      Your poignant and OH! so real account of losing your beloved grandfather brought back many of my own memories of loss of those I most loved in all the world. There are many wonderful things about growing older in good health and vitality, but the most dreadful thing is that it seems to mean outliving most of ones loved ones. That's been my experience. I can't tell you it gets easier with practice, but it is at least, less of a shock.

      Three of my grandparents had died before I was born, with Mother's mother passing only a month before I was born! The one grandmother I did have, I knew only for a short time before she was no longer in my life. She had lived with us in Texas for those few years and then returned to her native home state of Indiana to live with one of her other sons, where she died not too long thereafter, when I was still a kid.

      Your story of anguish for your most beloved grandfather - and friend - speaks volumes about you as a person, Janine. I could literally FEEL your actions and feelings on that fated day. In a way, I've been there, done that, on several fated days. My bereavement of my beloved husband 4 years ago, and then of my last other sibling last May were my most recent and have been similar, both in the empty place they vacated and the certainty that they were watching over me as guardian angels! So many evidences of that have occurred!

      My mother lost her father,with whom she'd been very close, at age 12. She never doubted that he'd been her guardian angel over the many more years she herself lived. Whatever and however forms guardian angels have, it is our awareness of them that makes them real. That's what counts.

      Thank you for sharing your painful story and your triumph living through it.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Eddy, I can truly relate and tell you when I first lost my grandfather, I was just lost and felt like my life had no meaning and direction. He truly was my world and had helped raise me. It took a good 2 years for me to slowly come out of it and start to heal. That said I can understand how you felt with the loss of your beloved sister and your wonderful daughter too. Thank you for sharing and reminding me that I am not the only one to have lost a loved one and very much do appreciate that. Thanks too for the votes and just your continued friendship and support too!!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Oh this is a truly beautiful hub of great strength.

      You are indeed not silly for thinking that some of the good things that have come your way are through your grandfather.

      Back in 1999 I lost my beautiful sister Val but two years after she died I found the strength to leave my alcoholic and abusive husband of 26 years.

      After she died slowly but surely I transformed although I didn't realise I was doing so at the time;only when I look back I can understand that transformation.

      I wrote a book of 18 poems in welsh in Val's memory. Then I wrote nothing for years ;no word would come but after Erin's passing in 2009 I began to write again and haven't stopped since. I know they are both with me to this day and forever. Thank you Janine for this gem and the saying comes to mind:-They may be gone from our homes but never from our hearts.

      Beautiful/awesome/useful/up here.

      Take care and God bless you and your beautiful family;you also have your beautiful and treasured memories to enjoy forevermore.

      Eddy.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Joseph, thank you so much for your beautiful words here. Very much appreciated and was happy to share this one, because I have to admit it was a bit of therapy for me to actually write out the event and my feelings behind it if it makes sense. I miss my grandfather dearly and not a day goes by that I don't think of him, but still so very thankful that he was indeed mine and had even that much time with him in my life. Thank you also for sharing my article too :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Now I see where your smile and heart is coming from. You have a wonderful heritage and it shows. Life is a miracle and we should not take from granted every minute. Thanks again for this wonderful inspiration Janine! You are doing a wonderful job in here, so cheer up! Sharing of course!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Mary, I do sorry that you never did met your grandfathers, but am happy to hear about your grandmothers being lovely women. Thank you for your votes and share too :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Linda, wow that is a coincidence and do think you may be right about angels having something to do with our meeting. I too hated Valentine's Day for years after his passing. It was my husband who helped me with Valentines Day and not hating the holiday. Thank you for sharing about your dad and for the votes too.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My dad was born on Valentine's day. After he passed away I wasn't very happy with cupid, but like you, I got used to it. Maybe our angels have met and you know what they say, people come into our lives for a reason ;) Thank you for sharing your grandpa with us. I didn't know my grandparents, having only met them a couple of times...could be why I'm thrilled to be a grandma. UP! Awesome!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. I never knew mine because they died at an early age. I did have two wonderful grandmothers, though.

      I voted this Hub UP, and will share.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Trust me Bill I have had those moments too, but thank you for stopping back here and leaving a comment now. I do agree that I was so lucky to have had him in my life for as long as I did, but still greedily would have liked more. Thank you again though for just being you and all your support :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I thought I commented on this hub; sure glad I checked back after I saw it on Facebook. This is a wonderful story of love and admiration; you were lucky to have spent time with him and I'm sure he would say the same thing.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Gypsy Rose Lee, thank you for your lovely words, votes and share too. I truly do appreciate it and do agree that he is definitely watching over where ever he may be and will always love him. Thank you again :)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and awesome. Thanks for sharing this touching story of your grandfather. He is and will always be with you and believe me he's up there smiling down on you because you believe and you love. Passing this on.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you Rema for your kind words about the loss of my grandfather and do agree that where ever he is that he indeed watching over my family and I.

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Janine,

      I am so sorry for your loss Janine but I am sure your beloved grandfather is watching over you fondly as you make beautiful hubs such as this one, so touching and full of love for him.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Alecia, I am so very sorry for the loss of your grandparents too and I was lucky enough to have my maternal grandparents for as many years as I did (my grandfather, I was almost 22 when he passed on and my grandmother I wasn't quite 33 when she left us). As for my paternal grandparents, I wasn't as lucky with losing my grandmother when was 18 months old and honestly don't really remember her except for pictures and my grandfather I was 20 years old, but he had dementia from the time I was in my teens so he really didn't remember for a few years before his passing. So I can completely relate to your comment here and do agree that I often wonder what would have been and how they would have reacted to the new phases of my life as I have entered them. Thank you again for all your kindness here :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Losing a loved one is never easy. I was 22 when my last surviving grandparent passed-my maternal grandmother- three weeks from college graduation. Ironically enough my paternal grandfather died four years before three weeks before my high school graduation. My paternal grandparents died before that and I was still a child when those happened. Either way, losing a grandparent almost is representative of losing that innocence and wonder of childhood. I'll always carry memories of them but sometimes I do imagine what it would be like for me to share the new phases of my life with them. Beautiful hub :).

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Denise, I am so sorry for your family's loss. I can relate to how your daughter's have felt, even though he was my grandfather and not my father, because my grandfather always was such an important part of my life. My mom (this was her dad) and I talk of him and my now departed grandmother too quite often and still there are times when I tear up too. Thank you for sharing your story here, because it does help to share and hear from other too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful hub, Janine. Thanks so much for sharing this on the HH site. I can only imagine how difficult it was. My dear husband died and it devastated my daughters at the time. Even now, there are moments when they will tear up thinking of things he is missing.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, thank you for your kind words here. And am also very sorry to hear about losing your grandfather to cancer. I very much do agree that memories do help and give me some peace of mind. Thank you again as always Michelle for all your continued support!!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Very touching and I'm also really sorry for what happened to your grandfather, Janine. It was hard for me when I lost mine to cancer as well....but take heart in that you have fond memories of all your grandparents. They were all so loving to you! God bless, Michelle

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Josh, I was lucky enough to have 3 of my grandparents well into my 20s and one (my maternal grandmother) until I was almost 33 years old. Unfortunately, my paternal grandmother died when I was 18 months old and honestly don't remember her, so can relate to what you said about your grandfather here. I am also sorry for the loss of your grandmother in the last few years, but do agree that we will see then again someday. You are welcome, but again thank you too!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Janine,

      That is awesome that you view your grandfather in this way! Unfortunately for me, I only ever had one grandparent, which was my grandmother. My grandfather passed when I was two years old, so I had no recollection. I always wondered what it would be like to have one. I am so glad you loved him unconditionally and were grateful for him. Those that are not grateful of their grandparents upset me, because I only ever had one. Those that have 2 or four are so blessed and should never take advantage of that. Thanks for your loving devotion to your grandfather, it is a blessing. My grandmother passed away a few years back, and it was a sad time for me. But, like you said about your grandfather, I will be able to see my grandmother again and even my grandfather some day! Thanks for everything Janine!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Josh, thank you yet again. You are very right about my grandfather and how he was a huge part of my life. I honestly just adored him and this was not a loss that I took lightly. I do hope and pray everyday that I will indeed meet up with him someday again. My mom once said she read an article in Reader's Digest and it was titled, "The Most Unforgettable Character.". That is how I view my grandfather in my life if that makes sense. Thanks again Josh for everything!!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Janine,

      This was very touching and powerful. WOW! Your love for your grandfather was undeniable, unparalleled and untouchable! Your compassion for him is seen as clear as night and day in this hub! I am glad you have been able to recover from the loss, and someday you will see him again. How joyous that will be! Thanks for sharing this story with us! You are remarkable Janine and very compassionate. Never change who you are!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Rajan, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I very much agree with you about how losing loved one can so unsettling and unnerving that we could reach the point of no return. I went through a time after I lost my grandfather that I did do many that were counter-productive and detrimental to myself. Thankfully, time and getting older did help to heal this loss. As you stated, I still do feel him constantly, but now my faith seems to help make that more of a positive than a negative. Thank you again so much!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      A very touching write Janine. Grief on losing the ones we are so close to is immeasurable and at that point unnerves us to the point of no return. Being young is a bane too. The same loss when we are older helps us to cope easier and faster.

      I'm glad time has healed the scars of loss for you but the fact that you find him constantly by your side in your belief is a great healer.

      Voted up and beautiful.

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Lord de cross, thank unso much for your comments and support. My husband and kids really do help with my feelings of grief and loss over this death. I am thankful everyday that I do have them to lean on.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Sad to hear this one Janine. Now your kids and your Hubbie will help you to cope with this loss. Thanks for sharing!

    • Janine Huldie profile image
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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you so much for your comment and support Frank. My mom actually tried to read this earlier (this was her father) and she said she started to cry and couldn't even finish reading this. I truly just wrote it exactly how it happened and how I felt. I swear I can remember that day so clearly like it happened yesterday.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      wow Janine an explosive account of the death of your best-friend... he now lives in spirit and in your memories as well as your writing bless you and your family :) Frank