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Trigger warning: this article contemplates death and grief so if that is not something you are in the right headspace to read about right now, I recommend leaving this article for later. 

Until a few months ago, I had never really lost someone very close to me. That was until my grandfather died. His health had been getting worse for a while and we all knew we would probably not get to keep him with us much longer. It was still a shock when we got the call that he had passed. Even if you know someone will probably not get better and there isn’t much left to do, you still hope for a miracle. For us the miracle was maybe his passing. He was in a lot of pain at the end and said very directly that he wishes to get away. His death was swift, his heart just could not take it anymore so in the end it simply stopped.

My grandpa’s death got me thinking about how people handle grief differently. I did not know how I would handle grief before I had to do it. I guess the same goes for everyone. For me personally, the first week was the hardest. However, at the same time it kind of felt like nothing had changed. If I didn’t actively think about my grandpa’s passing, it almost felt like he was still alive. I guess that was my brain trying to shelter me from the feelings of sadness. I tried to constantly remind myself that he had died, because I wanted to start processing what had happened. It was really hard and still is but I think that if I do not actively keep his death in my mind, I will forget about it as a defense mechanism. Then it will hit me anyways sooner or later. I’d rather it be sooner.

Other people closest to my grandpa include my grandma, my dad and my sister. Each of them handled losing him very differently and that was something that I had a hard time understanding at first. When it first happened, all the rest of us were very sad but my grandma surprisingly was not. This took me by surprise. How was she not upset? She should be devastated, why wasn’t she? Turns out she just couldn’t wrap her head around him being gone. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that it hit her and she became very sad and depressed. Now, a few months later she still is. And that’s okay. Everyone should take as much time to grieve as they need.

My sister, on the other hand, was very sad initially but seemed completely okay very soon. A few days after my grandpa died, I went to her place to watch a movie. I was tired because I couldn’t really sleep, depressed and just upset in every way. She, however, seemed almost normal. This also confused me so much since I had expected her to feel the same way I did. I found it a bit hard to be around her for a little while because I just didn’t have the energy to do things normally and act all happy. I was maybe even a bit upset with her for not being sad like I was. I later realised, however, that maybe she is not showing all her emotions to me but rather leaning on her friends a bit more for support. Or maybe her way of dealing with losing our grandpa is not really thinking about it at all until she feels like she is ready to. Even though that is a completely opposite way of handling sadness from mine, it is still very valid and she is definitely entitled to grief just the way she feels is best for her.

My dad has been very closed off. He doesn’t really show emotion too much which has gotten me somewhat concerned. Many men feel like they have to keep all emotions bottled up and not show any negative emotions besides maybe anger. It is really important to talk about your emotions and accept them, but then again, maybe he does. I really hope he talks about how he is feeling with his partner, at least. He may also need some time to handle his emotions by himself before he is ready to share them and talk about them. He has also been very busy dealing with testament related stuff and such. Keeping yourself occupied is something many people do after a loved one’s death but it is important to stop at some point and allow yourself to grieve properly.

I guess what I learned from my grandpa’s death, then, is that everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right way to be sad and even if someone reacts to the loss of a loved one in a different way from you, that is valid and should be accepted. Also, even if someone doesn’t look sad, that does not mean they did not care for the person who passed. Maybe they just can’t deal with all the emotions right away or prefer to feel them in private or with someone else. It is, however, great if you are able to offer someone who has experienced a loss emotional support and a shoulder to cry on; no one should have to grieve all alone.

Lotta Nieminen

Helsinki '24

I study social science and when I don't I really like to look at butterflies, take naps and think about how I'm going to make the world a better place some day.
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