I can’t get over my grandma’s death

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD, is a counselling psychologist

Dear Counsellor,
I had lived with my grandmother since I was a year old. My mother is overseas and I get to visit with her for the holidays, and she comes and goes. My father was killed in a motor vehicle accident in October 2014. My grandmother passed away two weeks ago and the pain I am feeling is too great. I am now living with my aunt. My aunt had lived with us (Grandma and me) before, so I am in the same home. My aunt insists that “I should get over it and move on”. Grandma provided for my schooling and needs in her will. I am not functioning well in school and I do not feel like doing anything.

Dear T.Y.,
When you lose a loved one, the pain you feel is real and the intensity of the pain depends on the depth/quality of the relationship you shared. The attachment to your grandmother was significant to you, and the resulting loss can be crippling.

The grieving process is different for everyone in the situation; your aunt and others in the family may have “gotten over” the death, and that is fine. You, on the other hand, are still grieving. Grief is an individual and private response to death. In finding your release, you should embrace the emotions and process them in your own time.

The death of your grandmother may have triggered emotions about the tragic death of your father as well. With this type of life event, you may be concerned about being alone, too. Seeing that the significant persons in your life are either deceased or living away from you, this may only intensify your concerns. Rely on the support of the family members, friends and community folk around you, as they are mourning the loss, too.

Remember that what you are feeling is a part of a normal process. Have you decided on how you are going to pay tribute to your grandmother? Apoem? Asong? Through a creative presentation? Are you prepared to participate in the funeral? I realise that your physical and financial needs are met and that you are taken care of in that respect. The primary loss is the death of your grandmother. The secondary loss would be the loss in terms of your grandmother not being at your graduation or any other significant celebrations in your life, and it is quite in order to feel sad.However, if the sadness persists and after a while you are still not functioning in school, please speak with your counsellor or pastor about your feelings.

There is no easy way to get over death and however best you can, live your life as tribute to your grandmother and father – in that way they will always be a part of yours. What would your grandmother want of you? Would she want you to be the best student in school?

Even though it seems difficult now, you are still here. Yes, life as you know will be different ... however, you have to go on ... the best way you know how.

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD, is a counselling psychologist. Email: karelle_hylton@yahoo.com.

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