It was January 15, 2015. I heard my mom come into the house probably around 7:45 am, I was getting my backpack to go to school and finish finals. She knocked on my door and went straight to embrace me. I was shocked and then she started to cry and say, “my dad, he just died. He died Natalie, he just died.” She just stayed there for a while crying on my shoulder and I just stood there embracing her not really knowing what else to do.
My grandpa had been in the hospital for close to 2 weeks. He went in for a checkup with his primary doctor in the morning and when they checked his chest they said they recommended he stay the night in the emergency room because something didn’t sound right. So my aunty called everyone to let them know that it wasn’t serious but that he would stay overnight. With further tests, they found he had pneumonia so he needed to stay longer. One thing led to another and in a couple of days, he was in an induced coma.
My entire family was in and out of the hospital. The waiting area was always filled with our family and so was the hallway. The doctors had told us that they were just waiting for him to leave because there was nothing else they could possibly do for him. The idea of him dying was in the back of my mind, but it never really hit me that it would actually happen. I was somewhat in denial, but internally because I never vocalized any of my doubts or questions. If I didn’t know and was oblivious, then there was no reason for me to worry, be sad, or upset; I was focusing my attention on other distractions like school.
That morning my mom came to tell us the news, I went to school and did my finals. I was just going with the flow of the day. My friends even asked me about how my grandpa was and I told them he passed that morning, but I was so chill about it like it was nothing. From that day my mom came crying that morning, through the service in church, and the funeral I didn’t cry a single tear. I was emotionally deactivated from any sign of sadness. I had suppressed everything related to my grandpa’s death. Whenever the topic would come up I would never engage in a way to continue the conversation because everyone would start crying. Back then, the last thing I wanted to show my family members or anybody for that matter, was what I thought was a sign of weakness or vulnerability. It wasn’t until October of that year that I was able to release my bottled up feelings in a spiritual retreat that I had.
I think that in a situation like this, suppressing the sadness and grief is the worst strategy. Under the right circumstances, it’s better to open up because eventually, the cup will spill and the cleanup will not be pretty. For example, when it comes to frustration in the workplace with customers or things like that, I think it’s okay to suppress because your job is on the line if you start venting negatively to a customer.