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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265 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    A big hug and lots of love for you and your family! <3 She is still with you in spirit. One day, you will smile again and feel the warmth of her love without as much sadness from missing her. What a joy you all were in her life! I can tell from how you write about her. <3 <3

  2. Tim and Joanne Joseph says:

    Andrea, I’m so very sorry to read of your recent loss of your dear grandmother. Your pizza memories are special to me as well. My mother passed away just over four years ago. Her wishes were for no funeral or other celebration of life service. We honored her request. But, one thing we could do was gather close friends, family, assorted relatives and neighbors. They were invited to join us for an evening sharing a wide selection of pizzas which was one of her favorite things to do. We shared some laughter, and told some stories of happy memories. It is never easy to lose a loved one, but this time together, honored her wishes and allowed us to remember her in a way she would have loved. May you find some comfort in sharing special memories with your loved ones. ❤

  3. stormcrush says:

    What a beautiful tribute about your Grandmother. I’m so sorry for your loss. I pray for you and your family’s peace and comfort as you mourn for your loved one. The memories you have will be precious and help you through this time. Sometimes the grief will wash over you like a ton of bricks. I remember when I lost my Nana and I would pick up the phone to call her and tell her about my day or something funny that happened, and then remember she was gone. Tears would just rain down. And then there are other days where I remember something funny that happened and I am comforted knowing she smiles down on me from heaven. Losing someone you love is hard, but I will encourage you by saying that as time goes on, it does help. (((HUGS)))

    • Andrea| Cooking with a Wallflower says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It means so much to me. Right now, it’s still very difficult to process the loss of my grandma. Every time I think of her, I get so sad that it’s hard to breathe. And sometimes even while I’m at work, and someone asks me how I am, I struggle to keep my emotions in check and be professional. But I know that with time, it will get better. Thank you!

  4. It's Just A Theory... says:

    I am SO sorry for your loss, and wish I could do something to ease your pain.
    Your’s is one of the first blogs I followed when I started this crazy mess of writing, so I’ve always felt a (perhaps) irrational fondness for your site.

    I wish for you swift healing, fresh perspectives, and an overpoweringly clear memory, so that your Grandma will always live on, inside you.

  5. GF-Chopstix says:

    A beautiful and touching post, Andrea. Such lovely photos of you with your grandma – sending you and your family condolences, and in time, may your memories be less painful as you celebrate your grandma’s love of pizza parties with the albums you so loving made just for her.

  6. Caliche Chick says:

    I came onto your site to thank you for stopping by and visiting. Then I say your blog about your Grandma. My heart goes out to you. I still miss my Grandma. I hope that your happy memories of her will comfort you.

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