The Truth About Losing a Grandparent in College

This past summer, I lost my grandma. While I know that plenty of people are reaching an age where they are experiencing death close to them for what may be the first time, this isn’t the case for me. I am the youngest of my generation, so I never had the opportunity to meet my great-grandparents or my paternal grandfather. I lost my paternal grandmother in kindergarten and my maternal grandfather in the third grade.

I’ve experienced death and funerals since a young age, but losing my grandma was different. I’m sure by this point you have an idea of where this article is headed, but we’re going to talk about something else. We’re going to talk about the truth of losing a grandparent while in college.

(Photo by Sharon McCutcheon)

I am a graduating senior this semester. I will be graduating early in December, which is something I am very proud of, but I also feel guilt. I feel guilty that I was so immersed in my studies that I did not call home as much as I should have or head home for weekends whenever I had the chance. A three-minute phone call is about as much time as it takes to heat up a cup of tea.

No one talks about the guilt that comes with losing someone while in college, especially not a family member. How do you feel excited about the life you’re building for yourself without feeling guilty for the time it takes away from those you love?

I’ve learned that the answer comes with balance. I call home whenever I’m doing nothing or doing something that I can talk on the phone and do. I text about random things during my day and ask about what is happening there too. My grandma was proud of me, and I know that she still is. I understand that she is no longer in pain and that helps on the days when I feel overwhelmed with guilt. I may never stop missing her, but that just motivates me to continue to make her and all of my grandparents proud.

If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one in college, don't be afraid to reach out to family or friends or someone on campus. Talking about someone can make you feel better. By talking with family you may find out things about your loved ones that you did not know before. Grief is a weird thing, but it is not something you should endure alone.