Coping with Loss

“Every morning, I wake up and forget just for a second that it happened. But once my eyes open, it buries me like a landslide of sharp, sad rocks. Once my eyes open, I’m heavy, like there’s to(o) much gravity on my heart.” – Sarah Ockler

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

I honestly didn’t know whether I wanted to write and publish this post. I have never posted anything so personal, so publicly. Especially on this blog where almost everything is positive and light. But I don’t know how to cope with grief and loss, and I can’t express my feelings and thoughts verbally without bursting into tears and struggling to swallow past that lump in my throat. I was always much better at writing.

It’s okay to skip this post. I don’t mind. I know this isn’t my usual, and this post is heavy with emotions. I just needed a place to speak.

Friday morning began like any other morning. I was sitting at Starbucks writing an email request to one of my offices asking for the second Monday of July off so that I could spend more time with family. My grandma’s birthday is in July, and every year it’s a big event where uncles, aunts, and cousins fly in from LA, New Orleans, and sometimes even Hong Kong for her birthday dinner. We always dress up in cocktail attire for her birthday. It’s the family event of the year. And I always want extra time off to hang out with family I haven’t seen in awhile.

This year was going to be huge. Almost the entire family planned to attend. Plane tickets were just purchased. With five children and their spouses, nineteen grandchildren plus spouses of those married, and eight great grandchildren, “almost” is a big number. My grandma’s great grandchildren were all going to be in one place for the first time. Since our grandma hasn’t met any of them yet, it was definitely going to be exciting, rowdy, and fun.

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

Late Friday afternoon as I was finishing up writing notes for work, I checked my phone and saw group text messages from my cousin about an hour before. My sisters and my two cousins from San Jose grew up together. You’ve seen photos of the five of us together in the past. We’re so close, like sisters, so we always talk through group chat.

“I need you all to call me!”

“Everyone call me!”

“Drea call me when you get home”

I quickly texted back, worried, wanting to know if it was Grandma. She had been sick the last two days so when I saw those messages, it was the first thing I thought of. Is it Grandma?

I received no response.

I waited until I was completely done with all my notes and left work to call my sisters and cousins to find out what was going on, but no one answered their phones or texted me back. And I had a sinking feeling. I started to suspect that something was terribly wrong, that whatever it was, they didn’t want to tell me until I was home.

When I reached the front of our house, I saw my dad’s car out front. He was supposed to be at work! He wasn’t supposed to be home for another few hours! And I knew. I didn’t need anyone to tell me… I knew.

I am so grateful that my grandma passed away quickly and peacefully. It was her one wish as she grew older. Her worst fear was being a burden to her family.

But as selfish as it is, I wish that she held on a little longer. That way we were better prepared, that way we had a chance to say goodbye.

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

Just a few days ago, I had wished that I could turn back time so that I could be on vacation again. Today, I wish I could turn back time because I would get to see my grandma again. A week ago, I was sharing photos of my vacation with her, laughing, joking, and listening to her tell stories about her cruise trip many years ago.

I didn’t think it was the last time I’d see her.

This entire weekend felt surreal. I kept checking my phone to see if it were all real, or if it’s just a terrible nightmare I’d wake up from. Walking through her house was difficult. My grandma was always full of life. She was loud with no sense of an indoor voice. Her idea of a whisper is my idea of speaking normally. You will always know that she’s home and when she’s awake.

It’s so quiet now. I walk into her room to pick out her favorite clothes for the upcoming funeral and burst into tears.

I look at the photo books I’ve made of her birthdays for the past seven years and know that there’s not going to an 8th book. Grandma loved to show off her family so I made those photo books for her. I thought it was easier for her to pull these small books off the shelf than having to pull out stashes of photos each time.

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

I’m devastated that she couldn’t hold on one more day so that she could see, or view through video, her newest great grandson, who was born less than 24 hours after she passed away.

Or that she couldn’t celebrate my 30th birthday with me in two weeks. Instead, we will be planning her funeral for the day after.

Or that she couldn’t see my cousin graduate from pharmacy school in May.

Or that she will miss her birthday this year when so many of us were planning to attend. She loved when we have huge family gatherings, and this was going to be the biggest. Just imagine all of us in one house!

Or that she will miss the same cousin who is graduating getting married at the end of the year.

2017 was supposed to be the best year ever, filled with so many milestones and life events. And now, I’m at a loss.

My sisters, cousins, and I talked about having a mini pizza party in honor of Grandma. Grandma was obsessed with pizzas. She was always craving it. To the point whereI created a Pizza Hut account with her saved order. An account that I only use when she tells me she craves pizza. Maybe that’s what we’ll do for her funeral. Have a huge pizza party afterwards.

It’s just so hard these past few days. The quiet is unbearable. I just always think that I’ll see her rolling her cart down the hallway or hear her voice on the phone. I miss hearing her admonish me for buying her clothes or treating her out to eat and not letting her pay me back.

As silly as it sounds, I thought she would live forever. That she would be there when I got married, when I have kids.

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

She was taken away so unexpectedly, and I miss her like crazy. This past weekend, we acted like she was still around. We set the table for dinner with a bowl of rice and chopsticks where she used to sit and called her to eat, just like we always did.

This new normalcy is so hard…

Hold your loved ones close. Enjoy and savor every moment.

Miss you, Grandma. <3

Coping with Grief | Cooking with a Wallflower

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268 comments

  1. Angie | Fiesta Friday says:

    I’m so terribly sorry for your loss, Andrea. My heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family. What a beautiful tribute you’ve written here, the part about setting the dinner table with a bowl of rice for your Grandma is so touching. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Sending hugs and kisses your way.

  2. shionoe says:

    Andrea I’m sorry about your loss to your grandmother and all the planning your family arranged. I really like your “Enjoy Every Moment” statement because you never know what is going to happen to yourself, your family, or your family. Being an artist, I really enjoy your recipes because it brings entertainment and happiness to your readers. I hope you continue to write in the future at a later time.

  3. mel91872 says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss…I’ve dealt with enough loss over the years I can sympathise. It never gets easier, but one good thing to always remember. Memories will hurt and cause tears always, but as time goes on those memories will bring smiles and laughter at the good times. Take care of yourself.

  4. LivingOnTheDiagonal says:

    Sorry–somehow I missed this post until I saw the one you posted today. The last time–we almost never know when it’s going to be, and there are always the “next” moments we’re left wishing for. Maybe it’s better that way. In recent years I’ve come to realize that I hope when it’s my time to die, there’s some event I’m looking forward to–something that makes my days brighter, that fills me with anticipation. Sounds like your grandmother had lots of things she was looking forward to. I, too, had a unique and delightful grandmother whose loss I’ll always feel and whose memory always brings a smile to my face. You write beautifully about the wonderfully rich life you and the rest of your family shared with your grandmother. Treasured times whose richness will grow through the years. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. lulu says:

    Losing someone you love is never easy, but the good. News is your grandma will live on in your heart. You are lucky to have had her in your life.

  6. Jhuls says:

    Andrea, I am so sorry for your loss and I feel your pain. I was overseas when I lost my Mom and never had the chance to see her because in our religion, it is necessary to bury the body of a dead person before the sun sets. I didn’t see her for there years that time she passed away. About two years ago, a grandmother who used to be with me since I was born also passed away. I love her so much like my own grandmother. Last month, my aunt who happened to be like my second mom, also passed away without seeing her. You are right, we really have to treasure our loved ones.

    My condolences to you and your family. I will be praying for you.

    Big hugs,
    Jhuls

    • Andrea| Cooking with a Wallflower says:

      Thank you so much, Jhuls! It has definitely been really difficult. I feel like I haven’t been able to get myself to do the things I normally do. And even though it’s been almost a month, the loss seems to get stronger and stronger with each passing day. I’m soo sorry for your loss too! I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose three people who mean so much to you in a short amount of time. Lots of hugs!

  7. fluidicthought says:

    I’m sorry to read of your loss Andrea. My condolences to you and your family. You will treasure the memories you have been blessed to have made and your Grandma will always be a part of you.

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