At Grandma’s Grave

They say that I need to remember the good times. I do, but that’s when I start to lose it. How do I not? How do I deal with it?

Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman, studied family dynamics formally and informally all my life

I suggest you visit her grave on your own and spend the time in your own way. No one can dictate the proper way to remember and/or grieve your grandmother. Such things are very personal. Chances are your friends and family feel uncomfortable at your honest displays of emotion so they try to dampen it down. That’s why I suggest to keep it private. If you have to go with the others to maintain some family ritual, you could try to put a lid on it then and keep your special private times for when you’re alone. Your grandmother, if she’s watching, will understand.

UPDATE, May 9 2017

The questioner responded that he is not allowed to go to his grandmother’s grave on his own, that he can only go along when his dad goes to change the flowers.

Give yourself time to grieve. You don’t say how recently she died but it seems your grief is still quite raw. It can take many months or even a year or two till a person feels like they did before the death of a loved one. Quite a bit of study has been done on the process/stages of grief. The most famous perhaps is the Kubler-Ross model. You can do a Google search or if you wish you can start here What are the steps of grief?.

If your parents won’t respect your need to grieve, is there a counsellor at school you can see for free? Grief counselling can be very helpful.

QUESTIONER: She died August of 2016. What they say is I need to remember the good times we had. but that’s when I start to cry. Because we can no longer do those things. What I’m basically asking is, how do I remember her without crying?

Sorry, I only found this comment now. If she died last August, it’s not even a year yet. I don’t understand why anyone forbids you to cry. It seems inhumane. Everyone grieves differently. For some people, there are few tears but they feel the pain of parting just as deeply. For others, they have to cry.

It has been said that weeping is washing the windows of the soul…not sure if I’ve got it right but something like that. My feeling is you will hurt yourself if you don’t find a time and place to cry since this is the type of person you are. I don’t know how you can heal properly otherwise, how you can remember the good times without crying. There may be a way but I don’t know it.

The people who forbid you to cry must be the type of people who don’t cry so easily but feel the pain. It may bother them to see someone crying, especially a son. Your father may fear that he has not raised you properly if you still “cry like a baby” and that you will not be strong enough for the tough life a man must face.

Perhaps at a time when both you and your father are feeling calm and relaxed you can explain to him that “being tough” or “strong” does not mean no tears; it means being kind and doing the right thing no matter how badly one feels inside. That you try so hard to please your father and honour your grandmother makes me think you are the kind of person who can and will do that throughout life, but probably not without tears.

If you are in a helping profession such as social work or the ministry, people who are suffering will appreciate your obvious ability to “feel for them.” Or if you take a menial job as in construction or a factory people around you will still appreciate a sympathetic soul who can support them when life gets tough. Hopefully, once your father understands that you’re going to grow up to be a “real man” even though you cry easily, he will find it easier to accept you the way you are.


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