My grandma died, how do I deal with it

When grandma leaves: After death, the family has to find each other again

For Stephan Sigg from St. Gallen, his grandmother was one of the most important women in his life. As a child he loved to spend time with her, to be inspired by her and to go around with her. A trip to see his grandmother was always - so he writes - like a trip to another country. Even if she lived only 20 minutes by car from his parents' house. With her he felt like he was in the Villa Kunterbunt.

Then the grandmother fell seriously ill and the family had to experience her suffering for a long time. When his grandmother died, Stephan Sigg was already over 30. The grief was so great that he has now processed it in a book (“Farewell to my grandma”). (dpa)

“At first I wrote down the memories of my grandma just for myself,” says Stephan Sigg. "To process the grief." In many conversations with friends and acquaintances, he notices that this topic concerns a lot more people. But also that hardly anyone talks about it. Because old people just die, losing them is part of life.

Grandparents shape children as intensely as parents

It is still painful, because many grandparents have a strong influence on a child. But you don't deal with your relationship with them as consciously as you do with your parents or siblings. That is why Stephan Sigg has now published his book. “By sharing my memories, I want to help other people deal with their grandparents,” says Sigg.

Family therapist Hans Berwanger from Coburg explains why grandparents shape children just as intensely as their own parents: "Parents themselves are usually in an extremely stressful phase of life and have to reconcile their upbringing and work," he says. Grandparents, on the other hand, have already done all of this and are therefore much more relaxed.

They are the ones who are free from having to prove that they have parenting skills and educational support for their children. In addition to an already busy schedule. You can spend time with the children much more relaxed than parents. "That is why grandma and grandpa are often the comforters of the soul in whom the grandchildren experience unconditional love."

Support for school stress and lovesickness

Especially as young people, grandchildren find support from their grandparents when it comes to school problems, lovesickness, stress with their parents or other worries. They are often accepted as they are.

If the grandparents die, they can leave a void in the life of the grandchildren - and in the whole family in general. "Grandparents are often the emotional support of the entire family," says Berwanger. The family celebrates Christmas with them, and everyone comes together who might otherwise have little contact. If the grandparents die, the family itself has to find another way to get together.

In this life situation, Berwanger recommends that families remember the beautiful and the difficult - such as a chronic illness - of the deceased together. “It's important to put up a picture or keep a certain memento,” he says. "That can take a back seat later."

Common grief offers an opportunity for a new bond

Living the culture of remembrance is something very valuable. The shared mourning and memory also offer a chance for a new emotional bond between parents and their children. As young adults, this often leads to a friendly partnership between them.

Family coach Anja Rathfelder from Dietzenbach also considers it particularly important to give mourning an appropriate place in everyday family life. "Sometimes the grandchildren mourn their grandmother even more than their parents," she says. It is particularly important that the family keep talking about it. And also mourn together.

"To say that everything is not so bad, since the grandma was already so old, is the wrong way." Rather, shared grief strengthens the family. "For parents, the death of their grandparents is also an opportunity to convey to their children what we humans have to do in life."

According to Anja Rathfelder, saying goodbye to grandpa or grandma also has another dimension: It brings responsibility in one's own life to the fore. "When a generation leaves, the next one automatically moves up a bit," says Rathfelder. This also results in a responsibility for the extended family, which was previously held together by the grandma.

The next generation has to do things

"It's the turn of the next generation to take over things that their grandparents did before." For example, organizing family celebrations. Sometimes that doesn't happen until years later - but it satisfies many.

For Stephan Sigg, the memory of his grandmother remains one thing above all else, even after her death: A large treasure chest from which he can take whatever he needs at any time - that's how he describes it. Knowing that his grandma always believed in him and accepted him for who he was. All of this helps him even today in critical moments. The memory continues to give him the courage that his grandmother gave him during his lifetime.