Finding Serenity After Loss: A Grandaughter's Observation Of Grief And Hope

Finding Serenity After Loss: A Grandaughter's Observation Of Grief And Hope

My grandma was a firm believer in silver linings.

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Let me start this by being completely honest. My grandmother, Janet Barnette, was a real firecracker. She would have been the first to tell you. She would also tell you that she was known to "make a splash, but not ruffle any feathers with frou-frou pleasantries." She was passionate and kind, bold and gentle, fierce and loyal. She knew exactly how to be herself unapologetically without ever threatening someone else's boundaries.

Her strength attracted friendships that lasted 70 years and she could melt someone's icy exterior without even meaning to. She never complained and didn't have a selfish bone in her entire body. She didn't believe in discrimination or hate, only in love, living colorfully, and silver linings.

When I was 2-years-old I moved into her home with my mother, where I lived for seventeen more years. As three different generations of women, we had some uncharted territory to navigate as we all got used to co-existing in the same house.

Most of that time, I can recall us painting art together in her ceramics studio, caring for pets when she had her pet-sitting business, reading and discussing novels like The Hunger Games and The Gargoyle and The Catcher In The Rye, discussing the past, present, and future in lengthy breaths over dinner, and most of all, listening to music together. She loved young people and all our current trends, but she also loved Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

In the car, on the way to school every morning, we would swap our favorite music as we made the long commute across the city of Charlotte. Some of my favorite memories include us belting out songs by Jack's Mannequin, Carla Bruni, Little Richard, Rent and High School Music soundtracks, and even some early Panic! At The Disco songs.

She never spoke to me, or anyone like they were younger or less wise than she was. She would give the benefit of the doubt and patiently accept varied ideas, even if she didn't agree with them.

Born in New York and raised in California, she was one of the most open-minded people I'd ever met, who had a way of being opinionated but completely interested and respectful of ALL people. If you wanted to talk to her about anything (her favorite were history, politics, and fantasy) she would promptly pull a comfortable seat to the table and present you with her famous bowl of freshly baked Chex-mix and a drink of your choice.

Unlike most grandmas, she was particularly popular for her Christmastime Chex-mix, which she would proudly deliver to everyone she knew including the mail carrier, the lawn care helpers, and various clerks dotted around Charlotte as she did her holiday shopping. And if she took a real shine to you, you'd most likely be offered her favorite mix, an Amaretto spiked coffee to sip on as you swapped stories.

She had this way of captivating a room full of people with her stories. Although she always liked to pretend she didn't know that's what was happening. Her energy was electric and humble and strong. My grandmother was able to spin a story that made you feel like you had been next to her throughout the entire fiasco she was describing seamlessly. She'd always write quotes in cards too. Somehow, she managed to write EXACTLY what you needed to read at the time. It was like a sixth sense sort of power she had, being able to predict and send them a card just when they needed it most.

She had a quote book filled with hundreds of quotes for every occasion from Thomas Edison to Maya Angelou to The Rolling Stones that she would carefully select and write out in her cards of encouragement.

One of my favorite stories she told involved her recounting her times on a mission trip to Haiti. She was only 30 but was already a wife with two children, that were ten and eight years old, she was a working-class businesswoman at American Airlines, an established artist with a degree, and her own business: Two Hearts.

She would always start this story with a similar opening, "Honey, that was just the way things were then! I wasn't some Super Woman! I was just doing my best and trying to provide some joy wherever I could. And sometimes that meant traveling to a different country to bring food to the hungry, that's where I went when I could pinch my pennies and go!" We all knew she was a Super Woman, though.

The sparkle that would gleam in her beautiful, crystal blue eyes would light up with passion when she told stories or talked about history. She devoted her entire life to a single purpose: giving back even if it meant a more modest life for herself. There was never a time when she wasn't trying to find a way to succeed in helping others. Many a family member or close friend would find an open door and a welcoming, warm couch in her house when they were without one. Without her, my mom and I would have been homeless. She made sacrifices that were not easy and left her scampering around to find a way to move mountains. She seemed to always be able to make the impossible possible with ease and confidence. There was never a time where she would admit or accept any praise but simply wave her hand and insist she had nothing to do with it.

Every single person who met her found her spirit contagious and her strength a source of endless support. She was always the first responder for any event, but her especially down-to-business attitude made her an ideal problem-solver for the serious incidents that arise during emergencies. My grandmother had a heart that was larger than life, and she was only interested in sharing a laugh with the world. Her generosity was unmatched and her cornbread unrivaled.

And while I do feel as though I've been robbed of my grandmother, guardian, conversationalist, and my best friend; I also feel an immense wave of relief as I know she is no longer in pain. She can finally stop fighting and swimming against the current when she is tired. I keep wanting to pick up the call and say, "Hey Grandma! Did you hear about those genetically altered babies? Or watch that new episode about who the real Jack The Ripper is?" She always was ready to hear about something eyebrow-raising and wanted to hear what the scoop was on the latest scientific breakthrough.

Now I know I won't be able to do that again. I won't be able to ask her advice or fondly request a retelling of one of my favorite stories. The weight is heavy. I haven't been able to face it. Reality has started to set in, and I've started to realize that it will be okay. I will still get visits from her but in the form of my favorite cards or the winking stars that she'd been known to name one-by-one or an elaborate Christmas tree.

Our loved ones are never really gone. They live on in the traditions and memories we knew them by. Grief is not something you get over, but rather something you come to terms with as you accept. The pain never goes away, but it does get easier as you find comfort in the nostalgic moments that remind you of your loved one. My grandma may not be here anymore, but her legacy and love are still as potent as ever.

I hope this can help anyone out there struggling with the process find some peace. I know getting all my swirling emotions out has been a complete mess. There is only a rainbow after the rain, and the rain doesn't last forever. I can feel her strength radiating through me as I write this and I know that she is somewhere with peace and neverending rainbows. ♡

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15 Reasons Your Grandpa Might Be The Greatest Person In Your Life

He loves you so much.
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Grandpa. The goofy old guy who has been with you since you were born. Maybe he lives close or maybe he lives far. Maybe he's quiet and reserved or maybe he's a complete goofball. Maybe you see him all the time or maybe he's up there watching over you. No matter the circumstance, it is important to realize that he's probably one of the best people in your life.

1. He's hilarious

Nobody can make you laugh harder than grandpa. Whether it's a hot take on a sports game or a great story, he's always there to make you crack up.

2. He's smart (and knows more than you've ever known in your lifetime)

You think you know a lot... And then you talk to grandpa. I'm telling you, this man knows everything you know times a million.

3. He raised your mom or your dad well

You may have some pretty incredible parents... Well, guess who raised them? Your grandpa is half of the reason your parent is as amazing as they are... That deserves a lot of credit and appreciation.

4. He lets you eat the good stuff

As a kid and now. As a kid, you'd get all the candy or snacks you wanted and we just kept it between us. Even now, half a quart of ice cream for each of us is a quality snack at grandpa's house.

5. He has shown you what true, beautiful love is

Whether your grandma and his partner in crime is still here or is watching over you, the love they've had for longer than your parents have even been alive is an inspiration. Since you were a child, you've had some pretty amazing role models to look up to.

6. He has however many grandkids and still keeps up with you

Whether you're the only grandkid or 1 of 30, somehow he always stays up to date about what's going on in your life.

7. He's genuinely interested in your life

You never have to feel like you're talking grandpa's ear off about your new job, your school or your relationship. He's all ears because he truly cares about you.

8. And swears to hunt down any person who hurts you

If you haven't got the "I'll kill anyone who hurts you" spiel from your grandpa, I think he's grandpa-ing wrong. You can cross me. You probably can't cross dad, but if you happen to slip through the cracks, you will not cross grandpa.

9. He's been there for all of your milestones

Whether it was your elementary talent show or your high school graduation, he's been there to watch you.

10. His job is just to love you

Grandparents' job as a whole is to love and spoil their grandkids. It makes sense why it is considered the best job in the world... And your grandpa is probably really good at it.

11. And he might be your biggest fan

No one cheers louder or high fives you harder than your grandpa, no matter if you're playing a sport or playing the piano. He is your number one fan and it is important everyone knows it.

12. He's known you your whole life

He's watched you go from a tiny baby to the incredible person you are now. And hopefully, he knows that a lot of who you are now is because of him.

13. He'd do anything for you

Name it and he'll do it. That's what people who love you like a grandpa loves their grandkid do.

14. He always has a smile for you

Sometimes your parents get mad at you and they're not happy to see you. No one is 100 percent excited to see you every time they see you... Except grandpa.

15. He loves you so incredibly much

The biggest and best reason he is so amazing is that he loves you. Unconditionally, always. You don't get a lot of those people in your life, so it is important to cherish them and love them back as strong as you can.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Grandmas Are The Greatest Gift Of All, And Here's 14 Reasons We Should Love Them Like A Best Friend

No one loves you like a grandma loves you.

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Grandma's are not given enough credit for the amount of love they have for their grandchildren.

1. They give the best hugs ever.

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No matter what kind of mood you're in, a grandma hug is what you need.

2. They make the most delicious meals.

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Not hungry? Too bad. Make room.

3. They always have candy.

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No matter what time or where you are, you know grandma is prepared for any candy craving.

4. and everything else....

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Bandaid, hairbrush, food, drink, coupons, clothes, towels, you name it, it's in there.

5. They love attending school events.

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You best believe that grandmas are your greatest supporters. They will be at every school event they can make it to.

6. ...and are usually sitting in the front row.

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Also, there's no doubt you'll know they're there because they're always sitting in the front row with the biggest smile.

7. They have 1,000 pictures of you.

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They will show everyone every single picture they have from every single moment of your life. Get ready for a 3 hour tour.

8. They brag about you every chance they get.

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They LOVE to share all of your accomplishments with their friends. Prepare for them to know more about you than you know about you.

9. They give the best gifts.

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Grandmas always know what to give you. They're like Santa except they'd prefer to help you make the cookies.

10. They write the sweetest notes.

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Grandmas love to leave behind sweet notes and letters. You'll always cherish these.

11. They always give sound advice.

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Grandmas will be the first one and the last one to be honest with you. Listen to them. They know what they're talking about.

12. They always want to hear about the boys (or boy) in your life.

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No one talks boys like grandma talks boys. She's the best person to go to with any type of relationship issue.

13. They are the best cheerleaders.

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They will never stop being proud of you. Never take this for granted.

14. They will always be there for you.

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Even when you turn away, grandmas are there ready to give awesome hugs and provide delicious food.

Grandmas are the greatest gift. They love us in a way no one else can and teach us the lessons no one else is willing to. Hug them when you can. Talk to them as much as possible. Listen to their thoughts, criticisms, and praises. Grandmas are the greatest gifts of all. Never underestimate how they change you.

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