17 years of grief

I lost my grandad when I was 7, he had cancer. I was kept away from it all as it was seen as too much for me to handle at such a young age which I can understand completely. My grandad was my father figured as I didn’t have a dad in my life. He meant the world to me and still does.

I never processed his death as I spent everyday with my grandmother and became her support though her grieving process for the follow few years.

I’ve always know that I haven’t faced the loss of him as when ever his name is mentioned I will always burst into tears without warning, even now at 24.

When I meet my partner last year I found myself wanting to talk about my grandad with him. For the first time I want to move forward from his death. Now I realise I’ve carried this numbness inside my chest for 17 years and struggling how to move forward.

I’m a very self destructive person and I’m starting to think it’s because I look for trouble and pain to be able to feel something , sadness and pain are my most comforting emotions as I understand them and feel a relief from them.

I’ve recently gone to his grave for the first time since his funeral, I found a lot of anger towards my grandfather and was begging for him to come back and offering him forgiveness if he did come back.

I’ve tried to speak to family about this and it’s always brushed under the carpet, except from the odd comment about how much he loved me and how he wouldn’t pass until he saw me. I found this filled me with more sadness that I can’t remember any of this.

On reflection I only hold 2 memories of him, the rest of it’s gone. I believe that years of bottling up how I feel has blocked my memory of him. There has always been this numbness in my chest, I would describe it as a hole because that’s how it can feel.

I found the best way for me to “feel” is to sing, I find songs that I can relate to and will sing them on repeat until I break down in tears and once I stop crying I will start the process of singing on repeat until I can feel it again. I’m pretty sure this is some weird form of self harming as I don’t feel better after but I definitely get to feel something. It’s sort of my way of keeping connected to him. Because of this I know struggle massively to show emotion to my friends and family, I won’t allow myself to cry or be sad infront of anyone and I think this is linked to being the support for my family through my grandads death.

I worry if I don’t feel the pain I will lose him for good.

If you have any advice on starting this healing journey that would be great.

1 Like

Hello @Olivia_p

I can see that you’re new to the community, so I wanted to say that I am so sorry for the loss of your Grandad that brings you here. Grief has no time scale and everyone passes through the journey in their unique way. Maybe now is the time to reach out and find the support you need.

I’m sure someone will be along to offer their support, but I wanted to share a few Sue Ryder resources with you that may help right now.

Thank you again for sharing – please keep reaching out and know that you are not alone.

Take care,


Hello @Olivia_p .

First of all, I am really, really sorry for the loss of your Grandad. It sounds like he was a very caring figure in your life who thought a lot of you, and you thought and still think a lot of him.

I think oftentimes, when there is a death parents believe it’s best to protect the little ones from it. They might think this is for the best and it will stop you from being upset about it. Nowadays, the advice given by psychotherapists who specialise in grief is that children should be told what is happening in an age-appropriate way. Of course the child will still get upset and their feelings about the loss may change over time as they mature and learn more about the finality of death, but this is the advice given now. I am sorry that you were not included or feel shielded from your Grandad’s death.

I am also sorry that you took on the role of a supporter of your grieving Nan at such a young age. Doing so is never easy, and especially not as a child.

Your feelings are absolutely valid - the anger, the frustration, the ‘hole’ inside your chest, everything.

I am not a professional. But it sounds to me like talking to a professional who specialises in grief would be beneficial to you. You would have the chance to talk openly, without judgement, about your Grandad & your feelings about his death and your family’s response to this.

My own loss of my Gran/Dad (biologically he was my Grandad, but his role in my life was Dad) this year hit me hard. I personally have found journalling & writing down my thoughts & feelings to be really cathartic. It doesn’t fix everything, but it lessens the burden somewhat. I have also found great comfort in talking about my Gran/Dad, his quirks and the funny things he said or did with others. If your family won’t listen, would a dear friend be willing to listen as you recall what you can about your Grandad?

As I say I am no professional, but these are some things that have helped me. Being kind to yourself is essential, if you can.