RIP Grandma (奶奶)

That dreaded feeling you can never escape from. It creeps up on you and you can never be prepared for. You know one day you will experience it again but it never occurs to you how hard it hits, how much despair it brings you. Everyday without having to experience it feels like a blessing. That feeling is grief.

I received news from my father that my paternal grandmother had passed away. She was 89 years old and left the earth peacefully. Aside from that I have no further details at the moment. Things are further complicated by the fact that my paternal side of the family (maternal as well) are in China. Only my mom and I are the ones that live in the United States. My parents got divorced when I was 2, and I didn't get to spent too much time with my paternal grandmother. Despite that, I still remember my 奶奶 vividly and how much she loved me. She was a very short and seemingly frail woman. She was also a very devout Buddhist and strictly vegan. She also had lost most of her teeth due to her age and wore dentures. She had short white hair and was very diminutive in size. But she had the temperament of a tiger and was the matriarch of the paternal side of my family.

The worst thing about hearing of her passing is that I’m on the other side of the planet. As soon as I saw the words “Kesan, your 奶奶 passed away at the age of 89, peacefully” on WeChat from my dad, my mind left my noggin. Disbelief and shock were my initially reactions. I could not focus in class at all and I knew I had to let my instructor dismiss me from class as soon as possible. Grief turns me into a very unsociable person and I want to retreat to the confines of my own room.

Over the years I’ve learned how I process grief. I’ve lost a close friend and 6 months later, my step dad. This was about 3 and half years ago. You could say I’m almost a professional at processing grief. In my grieving process, I need to be alone. I’ve also learned that I hate crying. Crying really mentally and physically exhausts me. I look ugly as all hell when I cry. Nobody wants to hug a snotty nosed 25 year old anyway. But how do I process the incredibly powerful emotion of grief? I write. Every letter, every comma, every punctuation mark are my tears. The only way I can express my rawest of emotions and my vulnerability are through my words. I was a crybaby when I was a child too so I really dislike crying.

I think that as a counselor in training, I have certainly developed new ways to cope with my own grief but unfortunately I don’t know if these methods are effective. I have not taken a grief counseling course yet so I’m doing my best by instinct. I’m not trying to be a strong macho dude by not crying, I just really don’t like the emotional tow on me by having my grief manifest itself physically. Tears redden my eyes. Snot dribbles down nose and I need half a tissue box. I can’t breathe properly and take very short quick breaths. I look at the mirror and I’m twice as ugly as I usually perceive myself. All the while I have to dwell on the fact that another major person in my life has left me forever. All I have now are memories of this certian person I’ve lost, and this time, its my 奶奶. She cared for me and raised me for a part of my childhood. She loved me and scolded me when I was being a mischievous little brat. I saw her last year in September and now she’s gone forever.

Its been about 2 hours since I heard the news and people might think I’m crazy for writing something this soon. But this is about me so I don’t fear judgement. To prevent any mental breakdowns, I had to process my thoughts immediately. Holding it in really helps no one. I’m not soliciting for likes on social media either. Part of the grieving process is to acknowledge pain and for others to acknowledge that I am hurting too. As long as people send any form of regards, it gives me the strength to carry on. Being as I am, I am really prone to overthinking and internalizing events. Not 5 minutes after receiving word that my 奶奶 passed away, I was already thinking of going back to China, stuff about the funeral, how I’m gonna deal with class and issues like that. Or if I don’t make plans to go back right away, people are going to think I’m a heartless and callous person. Its mentally and physically exhausting when your mind cant calm down and going a mile a minute. And I certainly am exhausted now from processing some of the grief. I think I’m going to take a nap and slowly go through the grieving process again…

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