Which Grief is Better (OR when will your death stop affecting me)

“woman sitting on cliff overlooking mountains during daytime” by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Hey Andrew,

There are times when it feels like it’s going to get tough for a while and there’s nothing I can do about it. It feels like we’ve been in the trenches for two-years and looks like we may be here a bit longer.

Grandpa is sick. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter which Grandpa I’m talking about because they are both within a few years of each other and while Grandpa Lentz is a few months away from 90, Grandpa Britton isn’t too far behind him. Ninety-years is a really good run and, for the most part, they have both lived amazing lives.

I mean, Grandpa Lentz served in the Korean War and dodged the front lines by being able to type on a typewriter (a new-ish skill back then), that’s just crazy. Grandpa Britton was stationed in Germany in the early 1950’s. Both have experienced your death and both have seen their wives pass away.

Grandma and Grandpa Lentz in the 1990’s

Did you ever hear how Grandpa and Grandma Lentz met? He was a week or so away from being sent to Japan in support of the Korean War and needed a date. He asked Grandma who was a seating hostess at the local movie theater. She had to work and when her boss wouldn’t let her have a night off, she quit. She may have been just shy of five feet but she made up for it with spunk. Even though she passed away in 2016. I can still hear her voice and see her smile. I didn’t really grieve for her, I seem to have a problem with that.

Grandma and Grandpa Britton, Germany 1950’s

Did you know Grandma Britton fought cancer twice after you died? I can still smell her perfume and hear her voice. Do you remember when you’d have to leave their house? You would throw the biggest fit, you just didn’t want to leave her side. I get that now. When you died, I’ve heard it said that Grandma never really recovered from it. I don’t think Grandma Lentz did either. If someone mentioned you her jaw would tremble and her eyes would tear up.

Now it’s 2018 and Grandpa Britton doesn’t have long. How long? We don’t know. His body is just slowly giving up on him. He has something I can’t even explain correctly. What it comes down to is that there are masses of blood vessels in his stomach and intestines. Because he needs a new valve in his heart, all of the rest of his vessels are working overtime. When one of these masses springs a leak or ruptures, that’s it. His life could be counted in two-hours or a day. We just don’t know and we don’t know when that could happen. I really dislike this waiting game.

Grandpa Lentz has really aged since Grandma joined you in Heaven. He’s going to the neurologist on Thursday. Who knows what they’ll say.

So here I am in a place I just love (that’s sarcasm). I feel like I’m in a unique position here. Its the game of “What version of grief do I prefer?”

1- When someone dies young but sudden (no preparation)
2- When someone dies at a respectable age from cancer (preparation)
3- When someone dies towards the end of life and it’s not a surprise but not expected (slightly prepared)
4- When someone dies towards the end of life and it’s just a waiting game (always prepared, always on edge)

To be honest, no version of death is fun. They all have downsides. I mean, I want to go up and spend every moment with Grandpa Britton right now but that’s just not possible. When you died it was awful in every way. Who wants to experience the sudden death of a seven-year-old from an accident? When Grandma Britton passed away, I was holding her hand and reading my Bible (I was reading about Abraham and Issac if you are curious). That was hard but we were happy she wasn’t in pain anymore. Grandma Lentz had been in and out of the hospital so many times. When she died we thought she had been on the upswing, we had no idea. So while her death wasn’t expected, it wasn’t a total surprise either.

This just sucks. I’m staring at this reality that our Grandpas are getting older and at some point in the next five-years both will have, more than likely, passed on. The shining point of all of this is the level of relationships I’ve been able to have with our grandparents and two of our four great-grandmas. Matt hasn’t had what I’ve had: four grandparents who loved me and they then loved my husband and daughters. In some ways, that may make the immediate loss hurt more but, then my memories are sustainable. I think I can live with that.

Us, Upper Penninsula of Michigan, late 1980’s

Do you realize that when our parents are at the end of their lives I’m going to have to do this without you? That wasn’t supposed to be in the cards. You were supposed to be alive. Yes, I have my family but Matt’s an only child too. The mortality of our grandparents is bringing up so much grief tied to your death. When does your passing stop cutting new wounds? This grief is more along the lines of what we’re missing out on together. Anger that about things I wasn’t supposed to go through alone, and now have to. I felt this way when Grandma Lentz died too. Mom had all of our aunts and one uncle around and they leaned on each other. I really felt your loss deeply as I saw the strength they drew from each other. Now, dad, Uncle Steve, and Aunt Becki are doing the same. I realized how much I’m going to need you and you aren’t going to be here. Once again, I’m an only child. But that wasn’t the plan.

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