How Long Does Grief Last After the Death of a Grandparent & How to Cope

Losing a grandparent is a deep loss. Grandparents are very special and play an essential role in our lives. No one loves, encourages, and supports us like a grandparent, and their loss is terrible and deeply felt. Most grandparent relationships are decades-long, influencing how we grieve them. This article explores why losing a grandparent can be so painful and discusses ways to cope with this profound loss.  

How Long Does Grief Last After the Death of a Grandparent?

Grief is an individual process, so everyone will have a different timeline for their grief. And additionally, several factors will influence the length and intensity of your grief. 

  • The level of shock involved in your grandparent’s passing can influence how long you grieve. If your grandparent passed after a long illness, that would impact you differently than if the loss was sudden, such as a heart attack or car accident. A sudden loss is more shocking and has an element of trauma that can exacerbate grief and extend its length.
  • Your grandparent’s involvement in your life may also influence your grief. If you saw them often, then there were taking up space in your life that will now ring with an emptiness now that they’ve passed.
  • How close you and your grandparent were can also affect the length and intensity of your grief. If you talked frequently or were incredibly close, losing your grandparent could have an even bigger impact. And grief and loss are challenging at any intensity level.
  • Length of time also influences the grief of a lost relationship. Grandparent relationships are unique because we have known them since birth. Even if you’re young when you lose a grandparent, that’s still a very long relationship, and that length can influence how deeply you grieve. 

How to Deal with the Grief of Losing a Grandparent?

  • Know That Grief Takes Time

The simple, if unfortunate, truth is that grief takes time. Everyone’s process and timeline are different, too, so try to avoid judging yourself on how long (or how little) you grieve. However, experts agree that most people start to feel some relief from a significant loss at around the year mark. If it’s been significantly more than a year, and your grief is still severe, please consider talking to your doctor or a counselor about complicated grief

  • Fully Experience Emotions

The only way out is through; feelings must be felt in order to move through and out of us. Loss is terrible and painful, and even more so with the loss of a grandparent. The five stages of grief are all about emotion; anger, loss, acceptance, etc. Give yourself permission to cry if there are tears; it takes great strength to weep, sob and wail fully. Rage and feel your anger; death is unfair, and your loss is profound. Scream into a pillow, take a kickboxing class or break glass (safely, of course.) These are also normal responses to a profound loss. And as awful and uncomfortable as grieving is, by feeling your anguish, sadness, and anger, you are moving through and healing. 

  • Practice Self-Expression

Many people going through the loss of a grandparent find that talking to someone, like a trusted family member, close friend, spiritual leader, or counselor, helpful. Being able to freely express yourself by sharing your thoughts and feelings can be healing. Many grief groups are also available online and in your local area. Sharing your grief with others who have some understanding of what you’re going through can help ease your pain. And seeing other people move through grief can bring hope on darker days. Journalling is also a classic, time-honored tool for processing deep grief and its emotions, plus it can feel safer privately sharing your every thought. 

One way for you to share about your beloved grandparent, and be with others who loved them, is to start an online memorial with Ecorial’s Memory Map. The Memory Map marks your grandparent’s final resting place and links to an online memorial page where you and other family and friends can share memories about this special person. 

  • Take Care of Yourself

It can be hard to do the basics of self-care when facing great loss. However, the simple truth is that you’ll feel better after a shower, brushing your teeth, and maybe even putting on fresh sheets. It’s like being sick; all you need is the bare minimum of food, water, and some cleanliness. 

  • Use Rituals
Rituals are very common when someone beloved passes on. Funerals, burials, memorial services, and ash scatterings are all common rituals associated with loss. Planting a tree, on its own or as a Living Urn, is another popular ritual to celebrate and memorialize a passed loved one. Writing your departed grandparent letters is a self-expression ritual that can be very comforting. Another common ritual is creating a piece of cremation jewelry or a cremation keepsake. You could make cremation jewelry if you have some of your grandparent’s ashes or a copy of their fingerprint. But you can still make a piece of memorial jewelry or keepsake without physical remains; many people find these kinds of keepsakes comforting during periods of loss.
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