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Must Be Strong.... But Don't Want To Be.

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Well if you look at my profile you can see that I lost both of my grandparents within 4 months of each other. I was close to my grandpa but much much closer to my grandma... she was one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I miss her every single day. Although I have no regrets about our relationship I still want more time with her. She was so strong and selfless. I am a lot like my grandma I am stubborn just like she was and will never give up. Life has been so different without her, she died of COPD and my grandpa of lung cancer. 2 summers ago I lost my Aunt Gloria to brain cancer and when I was 7 or 8 I lost both of my great grandparents. So obviously death is something I am very aware of. Though I am aware of it, it is still hard for me because I love and care about everyone so deeply. This loss of my grandparents has been a nightmare even though I knew it was coming, that fact did not make it any easier. I watched both of them die in the 2 and a half years they battled with their diseases. That is not something a typical 14 year old should have to deal with... but I have to be strong for my family and friends. Even after their death nobody, but my closest friends, knew how much I was hurting or what had even happened to me because I was still the same old me I always had been.

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Hi there,

aw I am so sorry for the loss of both your grandparents and of course you miss your Grandma so much. I am sorry you have had to deal with so many losses at such a young age. I don't think it's ever easy when anyone loses anyone they love. Like you say even though it was expected nothing can still prepare for that actual moment when we realise they are gone, no matter how one tries it just is not imagineable and nothing at all can make it easier really.

I am sorry you feel you have to be strong for your family. Know sweetie that you have every right to be sad, nobody should and probably won't have expectations from you. You've been hit with this awful thing and you are so very entitled to be sad, to cry, to feel hurt,to feel whatever you do feel. I hope you can allow yourself to let in whatever feelings you have.

I wish I had real words of comfort for you but I don't, they just don't exist. But we are always here to listen and share with you whenever you feel like.

All I can do is send some loving hugs your way,



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Dear One,

I'm so sorry to learn that you've lost both your grandparents, and that those deaths happened so close together. I am a grandmother myself, and I know first-hand how special the relationship between a grandma and a granddaughter can be—so I understand that this is a very significant loss for you. In addition, you've experienced the deaths of a number of other close relatives as well. That's an awful lot of loss for someone who is only 14 years of age! I can only imagine how overwhelmed with grief you must feel, and I would expect that the effects of all these deaths are still rippling through your entire family. Under those circumstances, it must be very difficult for you to find someone within your family circle to whom you can turn for support.

You say you must be strong for your family and friends, but that concerns me a little. You see, my dear, grief is best dealt with when you are able to show your emotional pain, talk with others openly and express your feelings fully about a loved one's death, and accept support from family and friends. Of course at your age (as a teen learning to separate from authority figures and find your own identity), it would be very natural for you to feel somewhat alienated from adults. That's why most teens normally turn to their peers for support. At the same time, they don't like to stand out and to feel different from their friends – they want to belong. The trouble is that, unless one or more of your friends has experienced the death of a loved one too, it's unlikely that they can fully understand what you're feeling and experiencing as you mourn the death of your grandmother. That's why grieving teens do best when they're helped to find peers who've also experienced a death. They're often very relieved to discover they're not the only ones who've had someone close to them die. It's good that you have your boyfriend to talk to, but I would also encourage you to find an adult you can trust (a teacher, school counselor, neighbor, friend, relative, clergy person, etc.) and with whom you feel comfortable talking. Once you've found this person, you can talk about who died in your family and what was special about your grandmother. Tell about your experience with the death itself: where you were when the death occurred, what happened right afterward and what you're experiencing right now. Share any dreams you may have had about your grandmother. You can also write a letter to her and say whatever you need to say. You can gather pictures, words and phrases from magazines and make a collage or a memory album that tells a story about what you remember about her. You might call your local hospice and ask if there are any support groups or programs in your community aimed at teens who've lost a grandparent. Go on the Internet and find some of the other sites that offer information, comfort and support to teens who are grieving (such as Hospice of the Valley's Teen Grief Program ). You might also ask your parents to check out some of the sites listed on the CHILD/ADOLESCENT GRIEF page of my Grief Healing Web site, so they'll have a better understanding of what you're going through and how they can help you.

Learn what normal grief looks like and feels like, so you'll know that what you're experiencing is normal and that you're not alone. Think about what you need from others right now and let them know about it. People (including your parents) won't know what you need from them unless you tell them. Your parents may be very concerned about you, but they may not have a clue as to what's going on with you. It could be that, in an effort to protect your mom or dad from their own sorrow about the loss of one of their own parents, you've been reluctant to discuss your own feelings of grief at the death of your grandparents. At the same time, your parents may think that discussing these deaths will only upset you. That happens in families -- no one wants to talk about it (see the story I've attached to the end of this message about the elephant in the room) and everybody winds up feeling alone and isolated in their grief. But talking is a good thing! Talking about your grandmother is what gets your feelings out in the open so you can acknowledge and deal with them, and it's also what keeps her memory alive in your minds and in your hearts. Maybe your parents are just aching to find somebody to talk to about her, too! One thing you might try is to invite your parents to read this post I've written to you. That may be all you need to get the conversation going.

I also think it helps to know that death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship. The bond you have with your grandmother will stay with you just as long as you keep her memory alive in your mind and in your heart. She will always be your grandmother and you will always be her granddaughter. Take comfort in knowing that, in a very real sense, your grandmother is very much here with you now, wherever you are, because her spirit and her memory live on in you, and because you are so very much a part of her. When you really think about it, in many ways you are more inseparable now than you were before, because you are not limited by space and time and distance.

I'm so glad you found your way to our forums, and I hope this information proves useful to you. Please accept our deepest and heartfelt sympathy over the loss of your grandparents, and know that we are here for you.

The Elephant in the Room

There's an elephant in the room.

It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.

Yet, we squeeze by with, "How are you?" and "I'm fine". . .

And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.

We talk about the weather.

We talk about school or work.

We talk about everything else —

except the elephant in the room.

We all know it is there.

We are thinking about the elephant as we talk.

It is constantly on our minds,

For you see, it is a very big elephant.

But we do not talk about the elephant in the room.

Oh, please, say her name.

Oh, please, say 'Barbara' again.

Oh, please, let's talk about the elephant in the room.

For if we talk about her death,

Perhaps we can talk about her life.

Can I say 'Barbara' and not have you look away?

For if I cannot, then you are leaving me

Alone . . . in a room . . .

With an elephant.

— Terry Kettering, in Bereavement Magazine,

Reprinted in Ann Landers' Column, Arizona Republic, February 12, 2000

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