I remember the days leading up to the one-year mark; all I could think was that March 6, 2009 would be the first day that I wouldn't be able to look at the calendar and think, "This time last year, Grandma was still with us." I was absolutely terrified of that date. So on March 5th I was an emotional wreck. We were still in Germany, Jason was TDY to San Antonio, and I called my dad crying. I was such a mess that he thought that something had happened to Jason's plane.
My grief that first year was a terribly raw thing. I cried a lot. Some of that was the pregnancy--I was around eight weeks along with Izzy when she died--but most of it was just the grief. The pain was near overwhelming at times. Grandma was my one person; she never let me down. She understood me in a way that nobody else did. There were many similarities in our life paths. It was just difficult.
Over the course of that second year there was a gradual shift in the intensity of my grief. I still cried, but it would be prompted by something: a grandmother/granddaughter relationship portrayed on t.v., the sudden realization that I couldn't call her to tell her about something one of the boys did...even the death of Patrick Swayze. (Grandma's death was a result of pancreatic cancer.) That year I learned that the stages of grief are not a map; that the way to acceptance can sometimes be flooded with tears, causing you to temporarily lose your way again.
And now, here we are. It's been three years. Three years and a day, in fact. In a lot of ways, things are better. I don't cry as often. When I do cry, it isn't as long. Longer stretches of time pass between the impulses to call her over the minutiae of my life. I've stopped dwelling on the fact that I lived abroad for the last four and a half years of her life. I can once again be grateful for the time I did have with her instead of mourning what I missed.
The only thing is, I think someone left out a pretty important stage when discussing the grief process. Guilt. I did not spend all day Saturday crying in my bed and I feel badly for that. I feel as though I should have. I feel guilty for moving forward. And, as Jason told me, Grandma wouldn't want that for me. More than anything, Grandma was about life and living and loving and being where you were fully and completely--we all felt so loved and so spoiled by her because she knew how to do those things.
I hope that this is a short stage. In some ways the guilt is worse than the ever-present sadness of the first year. And man, I sure do wish Grandma was around to talk all this over with.