Losing My Grandparents: Xiang Ying’s Story

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In this series of real user stories, we’re bringing together a bunch of people from different backgrounds to share their most intimate experience dealing with the loss of a loved one. We hope that by reading all of their stories, you’ll understand that everyone grieves differently and everyone’s journey is just as valid.

If you would like to submit your own story, please do so here. Today’s story is shared by Xiang Ying who lost both of her grandparents back to back in 2015. This is her story.

What happened to them?

My grandma suffered from a stroke since I was 9. She was bedridden for nearly 5 years before her passing and was dependent on my grandpa to go about her daily life. All in all, she suffered for nearly 2 decades! She passed away from pneumonia after a tormenting week in the hospital.

After my grandpa lost his wife, we thought that he was finally free to live his own life without any responsibilities. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with bell’s palsy and his condition deteriorated very quickly. He took his last breath at home according to his wishes.

How involved were you with the dealing of their death?

I wasn’t directly involved in arranging for the wake and funeral. My mum and her siblings did all the preparation while my uncle searched for a final resting spot for his mum. Luckily they were introduced to a friend of a friend who had all the contacts they needed.

In contrast, my mum and her siblings were more prepared for my grandpa’s passing as they had already experienced the process of dealing with my grandma’s demise not too long ago.

What was the most difficult part of losing them?

I had a mixed bag of emotions after losing my grandma. Part of me was relieved that she didn’t have to suffer anymore but another part of me missed her so much. As for my grandpa, I miss having a stoic figure in my life and someone that I could go to for any advice. Losing my grandpa was very difficult for my mum.

Do you remember your last encounter with them, what was it like?

I spent a night with my grandma in the hospital as my mum told me that this is a perfect opportunity to repay her for taking care of me when I was younger. I thanked her and she nodded as she was too weak to speak and had an oxygen mask on. My grandma had a lot of close shaves with death in the hospital and unfortunately, I wasn’t with her during her final moments.

I wasn’t with my grandpa when he passed as I was studying in Penang at that time. When he spent his final Chinese New Year celebrations in his hometown, my uncle organised a family reunion for him to meet with his siblings. It was heart-wrenching to see this knowing that it was probably the last time he’ll ever get to meet them. I took the chance to thank him for sending me to kindergarten and taking care of me when I was a child.

How did you cope with your own feelings?

We were too busy to grieve at first but when their caskets were pushed into the furnace, I finally broke down as I knew this was it. They’re gone forever. My religious teachings ended up being my coping mechanism so I prayed and chanted Buddhist sutras in the hopes of easing their journey ahead.

If they could hear you now, what would you say to them?

I want them to stop worrying about me as I am doing well and my brother is finally married with a cute baby boy! I also want my grandma to know that whenever I think of her, I always play her favourite songs on the piano in honour of her memory.

What is your favourite memory of them?

My grandma used to tell us lots of interesting stories about her life during the Japanese occupation in Penang. And I’ll always remember the times when my grandpa would drive me to and from school every single day.

My grandparents back in the days.

How do you feel now, are you still struggling?

I’m feeling much better now and both of their passings have taught me that we should spend more time with our loved ones while they’re still here with us.

What advice would you offer someone who is grieving?

Remember that the people we lose along the way would want us to be happy and continue living our lives to the fullest. I personally believe in doing charitable deeds in their memory which is a great way of keeping their legacy alive while helping others.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

Xiang Ying, 35.

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