Losing a grandparent is considered a natural part of life, but it can be very painful.
Different feelings after the death of a grandparent
Losing a grandparent often means losing one of the people who loved you unconditionally. This is very upsetting. You may feel like you’ve lost a part of your childhood or lost your place in the world.
Anger and regret
If you had a difficult or estranged relationship with your grandparent, you might feel angry about the way you left things. Or you might have questions which you can never ask, or regret that you didn’t have a chance to know them better.
Changes in the family
When a grandparent dies it can have an effect on the whole family. Your parents, aunts and uncles will be grieving. Sometimes a grandparent may have been holding the family together. Sometimes a grandparent has been a primary carer and their loss is more like losing a parent.
Fear of death
When your grandparent dies it can make your own death seem nearer. Often the death of a grandparent is the first time someone experiences bereavement. This can be very scary but it’s important to know it is a normal fear to have.
If you rarely saw your grandparents, you may find yourself thinking they are still alive. It can then be very upsetting when you realise this isn’t true.
“I was very close to my grandad, and when he died suddenly of a heart attack, I was just seven years old. His death devastated me, but at the time, I packed away all the grief deep inside me, because my granny was so very sad, and my mum was both sad and busy looking after my gran; I thought I didn’t have a right to grieve."
Allow room for your feelings
Whether you’re feeling shocked, sad, confused or nothing at all. It’s important to allow space for your feelings and know that it’s totally okay to feel how you are.
Talk to someone
Talking to someone about your grandparent can be really helpful. Try talking to other relatives or friends who knew them – you might find they’re feeling the same way as you. You can also get in touch with us and we can help you make sense of how you’re feeling. Find out the ways we can support you.
Find ways to remember them
It helps to find ways to remember your grandparent, and keep them part of your life. This might mean holding an event in their honour, or making a memory box or special album of pictures. This helps to maintain the bond you had with the person. You can find more suggestions on ways to remember someone here.
Plan ahead on special occasions
Birthdays, anniversaries and religious festivals are difficult when someone dies. It helps to think in advance about how you are going to manage. Read our tips on coping with birthdays.
Write about your feelings
Journaling and letter writing are proven techniques for dealing with thoughts and feelings after a death. Learn more about using journaling to deal with grief.