Coping with the Death of a Grandparent

May 12, 2022

The death of a grandparent can be one of the hardest things people experience, especially as for many this is the first experience of grief that they have to deal with. Whilst there is nothing that can be done or said that will take the pain away, there are some ways to come to terms with the loss and treasure the memories they have. Here, we share some ways of coping with the death of a grandparent. 

Express your emotions  

It can feel natural for some people to bottle up their emotions, and whilst there is never one way to grieve, not showing your emotions at all is rarely the best method. It is important to know that you can and should express your emotions and that there are no set emotions that you should be feeling. Whilst crying is common and should be embraced, this may not be everyone’s way to cope with emotions. Some people may want to scream or get angry and this is natural too. Don’t let anyone say the emotions you are feeling are not valid.

You also don’t have to let your emotions out in such a raw form. If you don’t want to vocally express your emotions, you may want to write your feelings down instead. If this will work for you, keep a journal specifically for this purpose.

Take your time to accept your feelings  

There is no timeline for grief so people should never feel rushed to accept their feelings. Grandparents are a key family figure for many people and some have an extremely close relationship with their grandparents, which makes the loss tough. People need to take their time to fully process their emotions. Some people can rush through the grieving process because they want to get to a point where they are “moving on”, however it is not as simple as that. If you do not accept or process your feelings properly, you could just be delaying the inevitable point where the feelings become overwhelming later down the track.

Create a memory box for your grandparents  

People can find it therapeutic to create a memory box dedicated to their lost grandparent. Look through photographs, selecting your favourites. Try writing a brief description on the back of each one. Add keepsakes to your box that were gifts from your grandparents or just remind you of them., Also, write down anything you remember about your grandparent. What were your favourite things about them? What did they love? What did they hate? In years to come, looking back at the memory box will be able to provide a lot of comfort as you reminisce about good memories.

Whilst a memory box can be a lovely thing, don’t feel like you have to hide everything in a box. Having some keepsakes on display or a few nice photos can help feel like your grandparents are close. However, if you think it’s too soon to have them on display, you at least know they are in a safe place. 

Learn new things about your grandparents  

Even though a grandparent has gone, doesn’t mean you have to stop learning about them and their life. Speak to close family members and friends of your grandparent to learn more about when they were younger and what they loved about them. Not only can this be a great way to learn something completely new about your loved one, but talking about them with others can be mutually beneficial. The process can help you support one another.

Take care of yourself  

An important thing that is easily forgotten about is taking care of yourself. Ensure you get enough rest and whilst you will want to take care of your other members of the family, you cannot forget about yourself. Getting enough sleep, maintaining personal hygiene, and sticking to some sort of routine (even if it’s changed slightly) can help you gain an element of control that can make a huge difference. 

Visit your grandparent’s grave or a special spot  

If you feel ready, you may find it comforting to feel close to your grandparent and visit your grandparent’s grave. This can often be a peaceful time where you can sit and reflect or tell them about your day. If you don’t want to visit their grave, or if there is no grave to visit, then why not go to a special spot that meant something to your loved one? Maybe it was somewhere you went with your grandparent or a spot you heard them talk about a lot. Visiting a place like this can help you feel closer to them.

Spend more time with family  

If you are lucky enough to come from a close family, ensure you make the most of this. If possible, spend more time with your family. They are probably experiencing similar feelings to you and you can support each other through this difficult time. When you lose a grandparent, your mum or dad have lost a parent which can be one of the toughest things to experience. Coming together as a family and realising just how short life is helps you appreciate the importance of family time.

Do things you loved doing with your grandparent

Whilst this may be difficult at first, over time you may decide to start doing an activity that you associate with your grandparent. The first few times you do will inevitably be hard, but continuing with the activity can also help keep a connection with your grandparent and can help bring up great memories you shared. If you want to do these activities alone, that’s fine, but also consider asking another family member or friend to come with you and start creating new memories. 

Ask for help

As we mentioned before, grandparents are often a great and important influence in our lives and have known us since we were born, meaning their loss can be extremely painful. Whilst there are no timelines for grief, you may feel like you are not coping as well as you should or your grieving process is taking a long time. If this is concerning you, make sure you reach out for help. There is no shame in admitting you need help to process your feelings. In fact, accepting you need help and actively seeking it can help you feel like you can move forward whilst still keeping your grandparent close to your heart and forever in your memories.