Since travel opens spaces for new ideas, could a grieving grandmother help herself – and the kids of many ages – if they went somewhere together after Grandfather died? Waiting to feel better has no guaranteed timeline for dealing with grief. This 73-year-old TravelingMom’s perspectives dealing with grief and grandkids reflect one year of trying some notions – and just might apply to grievers of any age.
When Grandfather dies, what’s a mourning Grandmother supposed to do?
Let the little kids grieve too. And the bigger kids. No pretending.
Maybe a trip somewhere together could reorder the disorder of despair. Doesn’t travel give us new ways to look at things? New glimpses of how others manage their days. What words they use to give life some balance.
Dead is the word I’m using. Honesty matters. Plenty of ways to share deep, complex and faith-based understanding through all our shared times ahead. I choose some transparency dealing with grief and grandkids.
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If going to the house where they always knew their now-gone grandfather is too anxiety-ridden, meet up elsewhere. Let them see how Grandmother copes, or doesn’t.
That’s what I’m learning about sharing grief. It’s not all mine, even when I feel as if I’m swirling in a vortex. Grandkids are dealing with grief too.
But it is mine to share what I’m learning and feeling in such unchartered waters. Felt like my journey should wrap around theirs, just as our shared lives always had.
Little Trips Feel Just Right
Covid caution meant my generations wouldn’t consider far-away travel. And since grief eats up energy, it’s probably a good thing not to work out big trips right away.
Road trip to a house on a lake was first. For me, a three-hour drive. For two families of kids and grandkids, just 45 minutes.
Since the funeral was a Zoom, this was our first time together since the death. These highlights felt healing to me and might be universally so for other grieving families.
TravelingMom Tip: Could be a good idea to find a lake or a creek or an ocean on a trip dealing with grief.
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Upon my arrival, a stampede of feet greeted me followed by an instant group hug that lasted a long time.
The cautious glances from then on seemed to wonder if Grandmother might be different, or fragile.
Single hugs pronouncing how skinny I felt. Grief diet is my analysis.
Board games around the coffee table felt normal since Grandfather never played them with us.
That lake with its early morning fog and evening star cover: A place to simply stare, solo or together. Lakes and oceans can ease the need to say anything, only to feel.
The crescendo of waves crashing is akin to the swell of deep grief. But with the delighted voices of grandkids jumping those waves, bits of pain receded as did the water.
Dealing with grief and grandkids by the sea offered metaphors along with reality.
My travel companions six months after the death were a blend of ages and relationships. I was the only adult without a lover’s hand to hold.
If traveling with others plus the grandkids, maybe it would be smart to ponder before the trip how you fit with the group.
Creeks gurgle, and they hold fish. Their rocky bottoms are slippery and all that adds up to whooping and hollering in the water.
Steady-footed grieving grandmas can do it all. Balance-challenged elders might prefer a folding chair set up at the bank or shallow entry.
Either one is togetherness with the comfort of water and the nature of play.
In my family’s case, as with many, Grandfather loved to fish. If we fished his creek now, that might mean grieving together connected us.
When we ate what we caught, family play and memories flowed together with some ease. Home alone, separated, that ease didn’t seem to show up so much.
A Longer Road Trip
Blame Covid for the long stretches of not seeing sisters or nephews or great-nieces. Blame death and dying – such a process that can be.
Was a nine-hour road trip too much to tackle? Had my focus and resilience returned enough yet? No way to figure that out without trying.
Since the vehicle I had bought to hold an abundance of medical support equipment had never rolled eight hours, I had no idea it would tell me when I’d driven too long!
Would you like to take a break? it dared to suggest! How dare I argue, I thought.
Some days the depth of grief makes me question reality, so this encounter fit right in with the newness of life.
The little kids I would meet on this trip never knew the man we mourned, but their parents and grandparents did. I was seeking the comfort of siblings, nephews and nieces, and they were seeking mine.
All had spent significant times together in Paris and Ohio and Georgia and on annual big-beach house vacations. Lifetimes of family travels.
So—-once again travel presented the opportunity to figure out how to wrap joy and sadness together. Playing with adorable toddlers who would never know the source of my grief did just that.
Giving Away Beloved Items
Are my treasures your treasures? Stories about family inheritance squabbles are legendary, at least in literature and news reports, right?
Connecting family heirlooms to particular people felt right to me. Tucking in a little note about Grandfather’s fingerprints on that book or pottery bowl or painting or pewter antique pitcher also delivers me a modicum of comfort.
Yes, the end of a long marriage points toward downsizing. Hopefully, kindness is also figuring in the equation of seeking comfort in minimizing accumulation.
If these art and literature items are to become part of the homes of children and grandchildren, the stories I share with items might give some depth to remembering.