Please Don’t Compare The Loss Of Your Grandparents To My Dead Dad

On 7th March 2019, at 7.15pm, my world fell apart, my dearly beloved father passed away in my mother’s arms after a battle with leukaemia and sepsis.

Right now it still feels very surreal. I keep thinking he will come in from the garden, I will hear his walking stick clicking on the kitchen floor or hear him say “Alright, Boos?” (“Booboos” was his nickname for me), all I have left now are a bunch full of sentimental items, and memories.

One of the most profound things that I have experienced in the weeks after my father’s passing is how often I have heard the words “I remember when my grandmother/grandfather died..”. I don’t mean this personally and I am deeply sorry for your loss, but if you consider these as words of condolence at a very difficult time for me, please don’t. When someone is grieving someone closer, like a parent or a sibling (but not on par to a partner or a child), the passing of your grandparents doesn’t compare to our pain, truly.

All of my grandparents are dead, so yes, absolutely I can say this. My grandparents on my Dad’s side were more or less estranged, but my grandfather on my mother’s side died 1st April 2005 from lung cancer and my grandmother died 5th December 2011 from Alzheimer’s Disease, both of whom I was very close to. Losing a grandparent hurts, but losing your parent is like losing a limb.

I fully get that you have a tonne of well-meaning advice and support to offer, I appreciate that and so will the next person, but if you start your emotional support with “I remember when my grandmother died..” then your advice and support immediately becomes pretty trivial to us, after all, a grandparent is not the same as a parent. Grandparents are usually pretty old when they die, my Dad was only 60.

Maybe there is is a hint of jealousy? I don’t know. Sometimes when I’ve heard these words of so-called support, I have wanted to shout at people “yes but your Dad is still alive!” . It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, really. Well-meaning advice that fails to grasp the reality of the situation- your Dad is quite possibly still alive and my Dad is….umm… dead.

If your Dad is dead, or if you know someone my age (a tender 30) who’s Dad is dead, these are the people I will listen to. If your Dad is dead, tell me about the passing of your Dad. Tell me know you healed, what you find helped, tell me all of it because I haven’t found a way forward yet for me. When a parent dies, it’s like a part of you is missing, when my Dad died, one of my first thoughts was “now who the f**k am I going to wind up?”. Dad and I used to banter all the time, so with his passing, I have nobody really that I can constantly jibe at. I don’t just grieve my Dad, I grieve what we shared and I grieve the part of me that no longer gets used, the part of me that now feels redundant and like it, too, is dying. Grief is so much more than just missing a person, a loss changes everything,

If your parents are both alive and the only support you have to offer is from the passing of a distant relative or a friend, my best advice is to be there and maybe just don’t say anything. Offer practical and emotional support but maybe don’t recall your stories unless asked. Sometimes, you telling us about the memories of your grandparents’ passing and the stories that go with will do far more to hinder than they ever will to help.

With all my love, hugs and support in the terrible pain that unites us all eventually.

Your good friend, Elena xx

4 thoughts on “Please Don’t Compare The Loss Of Your Grandparents To My Dead Dad

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  1. I can get where you’re coming from with this in many different ways. Sometimes it would just be better if people offered their condolences and didn’t try to compare their own grief to yours. Grief is something that is very personal and each person handles it differently. It is very hard when you lose a parent at any age, but especially so at a younger age. I lost my father when I was 17 to heart failure, and there was a lot of things left unsaid between the both of us. All I can say is, give it time. But, also remember that grief knows nothing about time and boundaries. Even 25+ years later I’m still impacted by grief in varying degrees. It just gets easier to deal with. Take care.

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    1. My condolences. Mu husband lost his mother at 4 years old to a UTI that led to sepsis so I can unserstand somewhat.

      I think people generally mean well, but these comments are perhaps poorly judged rather than ill-intended. I think for me, the hardest part has been the unknown triggers. Seeing the hearse pull in at the funeral? I was fine. Saying goodbye to Dad at the altar? Tricky but no biggie. Seeing his car on the driveway was when I collapsed into a sobbing mess and screamed for him. Up until that point I think I was just going through the motions because of the stress of funeral planning. Even now when I visit Mum, it still doesn’t feel like he’s gone. With that aaid, I think the strength of the love we had for each other has carried me through.

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  2. Elena, I get this 100%!!! I lost my dad functionally when I was 6 years old. I never saw him again…. and he died when I was 28. My mom passed 5 years ago. Losing a parent is one of the most difficult losses no matter how old you are. Being young makes it all that much more difficult. Each of us grieves in our own way and in our own time. It’s a loss which I can’t explain…. and I know you understand because you’ve experienced the same loss.

    The thing which helped me the most was talking about my mom. Telling stories about her and remembering with others who knew and loved her. I had a great deal of anger at her, too, but that’s special to my relationship with her and family system. Mom and I lived together for the majority of my adult life…. we were friends and mother/daughter.

    The thing I found most helpful in grieving was telling others what I needed from them… and it’s ok for that to change from day to day… or even faster.

    When I lost my mom, I lost a piece of myself along with my best friend. BIG HUGS my friend. Big hugs.

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    1. Thankyou Jodie, you are right, talking and telling stories really helps. I have many “Daddisms” as the family has called them, like dog treats are “tasties”.

      I was never angry at my Dad. Okay, maybe, because he was a hypochondriac and he woukd Google and obsess over every symptpm. Was he right to? Maybe, but he was taking so many pills and potions in the end that something probably had to give.

      I know that when my Mum goes, I will be angry at her, very angry indeed. She’s convinced that I’m autistic (that’s never been uttered by a doctor since I was about 6 years old), told me I’d never find love and told me that had she known I’d be disabled ehe would hsve aborted me. Those aren’t things a daughter wants to hesr.

      Liked by 1 person

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