Handling Grief

The past two weeks have felt unreal like I’m living in a nightmare and just can’t seem to wake up. Almost two weeks ago, my entire life changed in a matter of hours. 

Two Wednesdays ago, my grandparents’ house—which has been in our family for nearly 70 years—caught fire. I was bartending when I got the call. I thought it was weird my mom was calling at 11:30 PM, knowing I was at work, but I still answered cheerfully. That cheer, and what seemed like every positive emotion I could feel, instantly evaporated when she told me she and my dad were on their way to the emergency room because there’d been a fire. My heart plummeted, and I couldn’t process what I was hearing. 

I closed the bar and got to the hospital as quickly as I could, knowing nothing about my grandparents’ condition. When I got there, I found out my grandma was safe. She’d suffered minor carbon monoxide poisoning, but she would make a full recovery. My grandpa, on the other hand, was in critical condition. I saw them both laying there in the trauma bay, having just experienced one of the most unthinkable things a person can experience. The image of my grandpa—one of the strongest, kindest, most loving, and heroic men I’ve ever known—laying there unresponsive is one I’ll never forget. 

We sat there with them for hours, waiting to hear some good news. We waited to hear that he would pull through. He’d wake up and come home to my parents’ house with my grandma. We never got to hear that news. 

We didn’t sleep that night and honestly haven’t slept much since then. My mom, my youngest brother, and I went back to my parents’ house early in the morning to get the spare bedroom ready for my grandma. We kept ourselves busy, clearing space, making lists of necessities for her, figuring out how to make the house wheelchair accessible. My brother and I, and my best friend, went to the store at 6 AM to get some essentials: clothes, toothbrush, sheets, etc. The whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this couldn’t actually be happening. This couldn’t be real. 

Later that Thursday, the rest of the family started coming into town. By Friday afternoon, we got the call that grandpa wasn’t going to make it. I truly had not ever imagined that I would be in that situation, in that room, for that reason. 

The following week was probably the most emotionally exhausting week of my life, and I’m still in shock and denial. I’ve experienced the loss of a loved one before, but never like this. I know how grief works, and I had an idea of what to expect. When you actually experience it like this, though, nothing can prepare you for it. I have so much anger, so much guilt, so much sadness. I’m having a hard time eating, sleeping, or feeling anything other than pain. Everything else feels so unimportant, and I find myself getting so upset at other people for caring about literally anything else. Of course, I know that’s an irrational response. Other people have every right to think and talk about other things. There are so many little things that keep happening, and all I can think about is the fact that I’m trying to process this immense tragedy and loss. 

It’s going to take a long time to feel normal again if I ever do. I recognize that. I’m working on setting emotional boundaries for myself right now. I’m asking others to give me grace as I maneuver through this impossibly difficult situation. At this moment, that’s the best I can do, and I’m okay with that. I will keep moving forward. I will keep practicing self-care and self-love. I just have to allow myself the time to grieve, and I have to be okay with whatever that looks like. 

As I move forward on this self-care journey and continue writing these blogs, I ask you all to bear with me as I grow and heal. It’s going to take time, and it might be a while until I can write about happy, easy things. Thank you all for following my journey, and thank you all for your continued support as I move through this difficult time. 

As always, and more importantly now than ever, stay safe + stay healthy.


Kayla W.