Documenting Grief

So my grandfather has been checked into the hospice, and it’s really starting to look like he won’t check back out again.

I’m not saying that to gain sympathy or anything. I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me. I’m just saying it because it’s true. And the way that I deal with things that are true is by writing about them.

So I’m going to write.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that my grandfather was a perfect man, because he wasn’t. He was flawed. And I’m not going to pretend that I always agreed with everything that he ever said, because I didn’t.

But he was a man who scraped up his knees diving heroically to grab me when I fell through the centre of the tire swing when I was little.

He was a man who I praised to no end as a kid because he let me eat ice cream before my dinner.

He was a man who made stupid comments like “my name is only eight letters and half of them are L’s, so it’s easy enough to spell” (his name’s Bill Hall), and “is there any other flavour than chocolate?”

So I guess I need to prepare to start grieving.

In preparation, I did a Google search of the stages of grief, because I can never remember them even though I know that, as a writer, I should. And when I looked over the list, I recognized that I’ve already gone through a few of the stages.

The first stage is denial. And when he was first diagnosed with cancer, I figured that it wasn’t that bad; he had beat cancer twice already, he could do it again, no problem. When they first told him it was terminal, I thought that that was nothing; terminal can mean a lot of things – it can mean one week or three years, who knows? And besides, the more that he fought this, the better chance he had of surviving.

The second stage is anger. I don’t logically know where this stage comes from. Why do people have to get angry when they lose someone? Either way, this stage came upon me when I received the news that the doctors weren’t going to do any more for him and they were entering him into the hospice. At that point, I was just mad. Mad at everyone. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, because I’m fully aware that my anger isn’t necessarily my shining moment, but suffice it to say that I was mad until someone pointed out to me that that was just my way of dealing, that what I was really doing was grieving.

And I guess I am.

So what next?

Bargaining. That’s a stupid one too. Who do I bargain to? I don’t have a religion. I don’t have any hope left that he’s going to get better. And if (when) he does die, I don’t believe that any miracle or last-minute conspiracy theory will be revealed. He’ll just be dead, and as much as I do believe that there will be an afterlife for him, I don’t have any hope that I’ll see him again before my time comes.

I don’t have anything to turn to besides the one religion that I do hold onto: my books.

I have all my favourite quotes on death to cling to.

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure” – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure” – Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie.

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living. And above all, those who live without love” – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling.

These quotes make me feel better.

And I know that we all must die, that it’s just a part of life, that the only thing scary about it is the fact that it is so unknown to us who are still alive. I know all that.

But still, 60-something is such a short amount of time to get in this world.

After that, I suppose I’ll have to deal with depression, followed by acceptance, assuming that everything is as straight-forward as it looks when I’m staring at it on a computer screen (and let’s face it, life never is).

But maybe I’m jumping the gun by writing all of this. Maybe he’ll be alright after all. Maybe, with just a little bit of time, I can go right on back to disagreeing with him.

Stage one, denial.

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