Grandpas are the central life force for many families. They’re the ones that everyone goes to for help and advice when life gets a bit sticky. Who better than your grandpa to help you learn how to manage your money, drive a stick shift, or help bail you out of a tricky situation?
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Grandpas are generally very close to their grandchildren, and some are closer to them than even their children. So when news of their death reaches you, you may be thinking to yourself, “I can’t believe my grandpa died, now what?”
The following tips below will help you process your grandpa’s death, whether it hits you suddenly and out of nowhere or if he suffered a long-term illness or disease.
Tips for Processing Your Grandfather’s Death
Losing someone you love can be challenging to process, especially when it’s someone as significant to you as your grandpa. A grandfather’s death may resonate throughout the entire family. Perhaps he represented the voice of reason and the person everyone looked up to and respected in your family. Everyone thinks and hopes that grandpa will live on forever, and it’s difficult to think ahead to when he’s no longer here.
The types of grief you’ll experience in the weeks and months following their death will test your resolve on the worst days, while memories of him can help shelter you from your grief on the better ones. If you were incredibly close to your grandpa, expect to feel profound grief and a deep sense of loss.
Here are some ways to honor and remember your grandfather as you try to process what his death means to you and your family now that he’s gone.
1. Allow yourself to grieve
Grandpas hold things together whenever times get rough or whenever there’s reason to get together to celebrate life in any family unit. When your grandpa dies, it’s a significant loss in your life at any age. Losing such a particular person is difficult to deal with whether you’re an adult or a young child at the time of his death.
However, give yourself the time it takes you to move through your grief without setting any limitations on yourself. You’ll recognize the signs of healing as it begins to take shape.
2. Embrace his lessons
Grandpas are unique beings who seem to have the wisdom of a sage at times. Cherish the good times and the life lessons that he taught you growing up. This can be a beautiful way of honoring them as you process his death.
As with most grandfathers, yours may have made a heavy impact on your life. His death is not only painful for you to process, but his absence is felt even more profoundly. Take what your grandpa taught you and try to live your life in the best way possible that honors every lesson learned from him.
3. Showcase his influence
Perhaps your grandpa taught you many things that you didn’t think of as significant at the time. Your childhood memories of the stories he told you as you were growing up, along with the wisdom he passed along as you got older, are all wrapped into one huge life lesson at the very core of your childhood and development.
Not until their death do you realize just how much influence they had in your life. To help you cope with his loss, consider showcasing his impact on how you mold your life from this moment forward. If he influenced you to be brave and take chances, make a plan on how you’ll incorporate those things into your life from now on.
4. Emulate his best traits
Almost all grandfathers have stories to tell about what life was like for them growing up. Life wasn’t easy for them growing up in an era stricken by war, poverty, and other governance types that made life difficult for everybody living during the time they were growing up. People had to make many sacrifices to feed their families and live from day-to-day.
Chances are your grandfather was not a complainer but a doer. Making ends meet, providing for their children and family, and even saving for retirement in most cases. Make a list of all of your grandpa’s best traits — his acts of kindness, acts of gratitude, and anything else you remember fondly of them. Weave these characteristics into your life wherever it makes sense for you.
5. Break the news gently to children
As soon as possible, let any young children know of grandpa’s death in the most straightforward yet gentle way you can think of. One of the best ways of telling a child about the death of a grandparent is to use direct and easy to understand language.
Avoid the use of euphemisms so that you don’t confuse them with what’s happened. Most children will process what you say in a literal sense for what makes sense to them at their age and maturity level. Keep things simple yet easy to understand. There’s nothing wrong with saying that grandpa died and won’t be coming back.
6. Consider getting counseling
Allow the grief process to take shape in the first few days and weeks after your grandfather’s death. This will allow you to process the news and get a feeling for the impact your grief will have on you. If you find yourself deep in despair that doesn’t let up, or if you find it hard to function after a few weeks, it may be the time to get some online therapy or counseling.
Seeing a counselor or therapist is now easier and more convenient than ever thanks to the internet and other online resources. Begin by doing a general search for the type of loss that you’ve experienced, and continue with searching for keywords that best describe how you’re feeling.
Tips for Remembering Your Grandfather After He Died
Remembering your grandfather’s life after his death is an essential part of your grief journey and for anyone who’s suffered this type of loss. Memorializing their life and honoring them in ways that reflect on the person they were when alive and what they meant to you in yours will help you heal from your pain and sadness.
There are many unique ways to honor the life of your grandpa. The following are some ways to consider:
7. Find a keepsake to remember them by
Ask your family members in charge of your grandpa’s estate distribution to allow you to rummage through some mementos they left behind. Find something that reminds you of them or that has special significance to you. Ask permission to keep the item. You can choose to share with others how that special keepsake reminds you of them, or keep it all to yourself as a special memory of your grandfather.
Whatever it is you choose, keep it nearby so you can reach for it whenever you need to feel your grandpa’s presence near you.
8. Write a eulogy in their honor
A eulogy can be offered to your friends and loved ones through social media, in person at the memorial service or funeral, or be kept private between you and your grandpa. Writing down how you feel, what your grandpa meant to you, and how they shaped your life will help you heal from your loss.
There are many ways to write a eulogy for your grandfather. If it makes it easier for you to process their death by keeping things funny and lighthearted, then write that type of eulogy. It doesn’t have to be serious and solemn.
9. Become your best self
A creative way to honor someone is to become your best self according to the things they taught you. There’s almost no better way to honor someone’s memory than by creating and living a life based on the principles they’ve taught you. You can celebrate your grandpa’s life by putting into action some or all of the things you asked him directly for advice.
If they guided you on taking a chance on love, starting a new business, or moving to a different city, for example, consider their death the beginning of the rest of your life and an opportunity to make it the best one ever.
10. Be open to a lifetime of learning
Getting through the profound pain of your loss will take some time. Generally, you can expect grief to last anywhere from six to twelve months following their death. But, don’t be surprised if you find yourself still grieving them deeply well beyond this period. You may experience grief and sorrow in ebbs and flows for the rest of your life.
Although it will become easier to move forward in life as time goes on, time alone won’t erase your pain. Open your heart and mind to the possibility that your grandpa’s death will have an impact on you for the rest of your life. The lessons they taught you will provide an opportunity for lifelong learning and growth.
Coping With Your Grandpa’s Death
The way you grieve and the path you take on your grief journey is a highly individualized one. Take as much time as you need to process your grandfather’s death. You’ll benefit from learning ways in which to overcome the pain and sorrow that follows their death.
Although you may feel at a loss on how to move forward with life, allow the waves of emotions to ebb and flow. In time, your grief will lessen. You’ll reach a place in your healing when the life lessons your grandfather taught you would serve as his loving guidance for the rest of your life.