Mental Health Moments: My Road to Grief Acceptance

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten

Note: As a perfectionist, it sometimes takes everything I have to deviate from my planned course. I love adventure, but I also love staying true to my first draft of my blog schedule. However, this topic is too important to me during the month of July. My regularly scheduled Mental Health Moments posts will resume next Tuesday and then every other Tuesday beginning in my birth month of August (2-3 per month).

On the rainy night of July 19, 2015, I lost someone very near and dear to my heart.

I can still remember how Granny tightened her grip on my hand, squeezing it a few times with her last bouts of strength. Her eyes told me everything in one instant, as a kaleidoscope of memories with her flooded my mind. Everything would be okay. She would live on as my guardian angel and watch over me in every facet of my life. I reached over on the side table and grabbed two tissues from the Kleenex box. I dabbed the tears in her eyes and flowing down her cheeks with one tissue. I use the other one for myself, because try as a I might, I couldn’t stop my own tears from flowing. After I made her some promises, the room with just us in it fell silent. We knew this would be the last time we would ever communicate. Her suffering would be over soon, and I had to learn to live in a world without my Granny in it.

Without getting into too many details, I was in the room when my Granny left this earth and made her way to heaven. It was the first time I saw someone pass away in front of me, and dealing with that loss has been too great at times. The anniversary of the week of her death always affects me, whether I sit for hours and scroll through my digital archive of her photos or freely allow the grieving tears to continue to flow.

The truth is, I still miss her. And I think about her every day. It could be a passing moment or a full-fledged memory, like when I see a violet in my yard in springtime or when I tell my niece Aubree about the time Granny got out of her car so the drive-thru worker at Arby’s could hear her better through the speaker. She lives in through all of us, and during these past three years, I have worked to keep her legacy alive in my own ways. I published my first book, From Granny’s Kitchen, which highlights some of her cornerstone recipes. I sat in her kitchen on countless occasions as she stirred milk into her gravy and cut up vegetables for soup. She was one of the most formative people in my life, and I would like to think that her traits rubbed off on me a little bit. I know some of my cooking skills come from her and the multitude of Food Network shows my sister and I always watched with her.

I realized last week when I finally put dishes and memorabilia in the cabinet that was once hers how much I still wish she were here. A sheet of her kitchen wallpaper lined the bottom shelf of the cabinet, and I lost it. I stepped in the puddle of tears I left a couple of hours later. The first thing I put in her cabinet in our dining room was the cookbook. Something of hers needed to be placed in there first.

I’m of the opinion that you never fully get over the loss of someone you love. The grieving process takes different forms over time, and I have reached the final level of acceptance; however, that doesn’t mean I still don’t break down over a smell, a photograph, a piece of her kitchen wallpaper in the cabinet I know have that was once hers. I do know that I have to move on without her while also keeping her legacy alive for generations to come. I resolved to come up with ways to manage my grief, like writing stories about her, creating an heirloom cookbook and being comforted by using her dishes in my house. I’ve found my way forward, despite the deaths of three loved ones at separate times in 2015. (It was a rough year.)

All of us are on a different grief journey. The bottom line is: we are graced with people in our lives that we will never forget. My Granny is one of my most important guardian angels -- both while she was alive and now in heaven.

I know she will make me biscuits and gravy again someday. I have no doubt about that. That is one component of my heaven!

The Seven Stages of Grief, according to Dr. Kubler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying:

  1. Shock

  2. Denial

  3. Anger

  4. Bargaining

  5. Depression

  6. Testing

  7. Acceptance

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more. 

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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