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When Loved Ones Die: Grieving in Your 20’s and Early 30’s


First of all, this is a terrible title for a post.  It’s not a how-to or a manual as there’s really no such thing for grief.  However, there’s not a lot written out there about dealing with grief in this age and stage of life that I’m in, so I want it to be easily found by someone searching for it.

If you’re new to this blog, you might want to read this post and this post to understand the context of what I’m writing.  To get you up to speed, my grandma died a month ago and I’m writing about my grieving process.  What you also don’t know if you’re new to this blog or don’t know me in real life, is that my Dad (my grandma’s son) died in a car accident when I was 24, so that’s why I’m making the age range so big.  It feels like I’m re-greiving my Dad as I grieve my Grandma.

Okay, let’s get started.

Grief is putting a smile on my face that betrays the sadness in my eyes.  When someone you love dies, the people around you want to know how you’re doing.  Those who’ve never had someone close to them die want you to just return to normal.  The thing is, you feel like you’ll never be normal again.  All around you life is moving forward, but someone you love is missing.  They’ll never see that beautiful sunset or experience another spring.  If it’s been a long time since they died, you realize that technology has changed so much that what’s available today would be quite foreign to them.

Grief takes time

Those who have experienced loss know that it just takes time.  There’s no magic point where you’ll suddenly be better.  The worst part about grieving the first time is that you keep thinking there should be this magic point.  A month?  6 months?  Surely after a year?  But no. There is no time line and no exact end point.

You’ll realize you’re doing better when one day you wake up and you have energy to start the day.  Or you can actually go to bed at a reasonable hour and your insomnia has subsided.  Later you’ll realize that things are actually funny again.  Years from now you might go the odd day without thinking about your loved one.

The Truth Behind “I’m fine”

Well, on the outside I probably seem mostly fine.  If you don’t know me you’d probably have no idea that I’ve lost someone recently.  Some days I’m starting to feel fine, sometimes.

Other days it feels like the only reason I’m okay is because I have to be for my family.  Yes, I’m past the worst of the can’t sleep/random crying/easily set off stage, but I’m not quite done.  Some days its simply hard to breathe.  I go for walks because I know that I simply need some endorphins to counteract all the sadness.

I think what surprises me the most as I’m grieving this time is that I’m okay with the grieving process and it is easier to go through it because I know it won’t always hurt this bad.  But I can’t grieve my grandma without grieving my Dad too.

It’s Complicated

When my Dad died I was in the middle of a masters program and I literally did not have time to grieve.  Once I had to go back after the summer and finish the second year, I didn’t have any family support because my school was across the country.

I cried unconsolably for an hour every week at first.  I don’t know why, and to this day I have no idea what set me off.  I cried every yoga class, and I absolutely lost it in our body-awareness/tension releasing type classes.  (Part of being a classical singer.)  I was literally trying to hold myself together and get through and any attempt to get me to relax just shattered me.

At the year mark I knew I wasn’t done grieving, but I could tell that people were getting annoyed with me for bringing it up.  To be fair, all of these people were those who hadn’t experienced the loss of a parent yet, so they had no way of understanding.

I had gotten some therapy because I knew that this would be a complicated grief.  My Dad and I had a difficult relationship because of his alcoholism, so there was more than just his death to deal with.  While therapy was very helpful, it wasn’t exactly the fast track to healing.  You have to do the work.  You have to feel your feelings, and ultimately, you need to take the time it takes even if its not on society’s schedule.

Sorting through it all

These days I’m having trouble sleeping again, but I’m able to pick up the pieces of my life that I left behind when my grandma got sick.  I miss her.  Slowly I’m sorting through what my life means now that she’s not in it.  I’m realizing how much I revolved my life around her, and I feel a bit lost.  I get emotional pretty easy, but my tears aren’t uncontrollable.  Her death is easier to handle because I know she lived a full life and it was her time.

I feel really alone.  I’m an only child of an only child, so I have no one to share my memories with.  Yes, other people knew her, but most of my memories involve just me and her.  I don’t have a sibling I can say “remember when” with and my Dad (her son) is long gone.  I’ve essentially lost half of my family tree and it feels terrible.

I’m more patient with myself this time around.  Finally I’m at a place in life where I can give myself a bit of time to breathe.  Yet I still want to emotional eat & shop my way to happiness, even though I know that the answers aren’t at the bottom of a plate or a bag.

Unfortunately the only way through is through.  You can’t rush grief and you can’t stop your emotions without serious consequences.  If you’ve recently lost someone you love, I hope this post helps you feel less alone.  There’s really no right or wrong way to grieve, so even if your experience isn’t like mine, its okay.

So, how are you, really?  I’d love to hear how things are honestly going for you if you’ve recently lost someone you loved.


Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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