Person holding a delicate butterfly in their palms

Life Lessons I Learned The Hard Way After A Loved One’s Passing

I’m still processing all of it, all the grief and loss. It is still fresh in my mind; her voice and her confidence in being fine in my last video call with her. Two hours later I received the news that she’s no more. Like everyone, my first reaction to it was shock. I had to grasp the reality of her no longer being alive on this face of Earth. There was no other choice, but I couldn’t accept it. This denial translated into my inability to shed a single tear. I didn’t and couldn’t cry, right up until the moment they buried her right in front of my eyes. At that moment, I broke into tears. There was no turning back; my life will never be the same again without her.

Person holding a delicate butterfly in their palms

Coping with grief has not been a smooth journey. But, like anything in life, it does come with its lessons. Here’s are some life lessons I had to learn the hard way after the passing of my grandmother.


1. Memories are what we have left.

The next few days saw me unconsciously replaying all my moments with her. Our conversations. The things she did for me. The inside jokes we had. All these memories came rushing back with a heavy feeling in my chest like I was sinking into despair. However, I finally realized that all I had left of her were the memories. It could be an incredibly insignificant event like watering the plants or cooking together, but they were all I had. They were all I had to celebrate her life as I knew it. She could have been anything to anyone. But to me, she was the most wonderful and loving woman.


This taught me that I needed to continuously make an effort to create memories with the people I dearly loved. Imagining what it would be like for me to lose another loved one, I realise it will always be memories that will be left of them. Even if it’s me that might pass tomorrow, what I leave behind is the memories with those I loved. They may be the tiniest, most mundane memories, but they are of unimaginable value. They connect us even if either of us is no more in this world.

Two people embracing, crying and struggling with grief

So go out there. Don’t look at your phone when your dad is having a conversation with you. Help your mum with groceries whenever you can. Don’t hold yourself back from loving someone. Look for ways to intentionally bond with your family and loved ones. Just like how at the end of your life you would probably regret all the things you didn’t do, after the passing of your loved ones, you’ll regret all the things you didn’t do with them or for them. Create memories every chance you get.


2. Sometimes, I am all I have.

I felt physically and mentally drained as I had to rush back to my university just three days after the passing of my grandmother. I was still coming to terms with what I have lost, only to face an incredibly important test that I had to pass if I wished to progress further in my studies. It felt like I was at the lowest point in my life.


However, I did it. I managed to pick myself up at the lowest point of my life and I boldly faced all that was to come. This was one of the most life-changing experiences that allowed me to trust in my capability to do something if I set my mind to it. I realized that sometimes, I am all I have. And I’m confident that no matter what I face in the future, I know that I will be able to go through it and make it out alive on the other side. As I’ve done so before, I’ll do it again.

Man standing in the sea and raising his arms to embrace life

It is weirdly comforting to know that you will grow through your pain and grief. When you finally do, the experience will redefine who you are. You will need to completely embrace the journey and trust the process.


3. Life is insanely short.

This is a phrase people throw around so much that it has lost all its meaning. However, if it’s coming from those who have lost a loved one, know that they mean it. One day, your loved one may be laughing with you until they snort through their nose, and the next day they can be gone. I realized that life is so short that I need to start living it.


If I was the one who passed, I don’t think I can say that I’ve done anything worthwhile with this gift of life just yet. My life has always been about making an impact on people. So, I’ve always imagined that someday I’d do something extremely remarkable. That those people would remember me by it even if I’m no longer here.


This experience was a reminder to me that if I want to do something remarkable, I need to start now. I need to take control and build the kind of life that I’ve envisioned for myself. I need to do it now because we are not promised tomorrow. Even our next minute is not promised. What do any of us have to lose?



Navigating grief is a unique journey for every individual. It comes with different lessons wrapped in for different people. My journey on navigating the loss of my grandma taught me that memories are what any of us have left, I am all I have sometimes and life is crazily short. I don’t want it to take you losing a loved one to learn these like I had to.


If you are currently caring for a sick loved one, here is an article on Things I Wish I Knew When Caring For A Sick Loved One. Know someone who’s going through a tough time and want to help? Here are some tips on how you can help a friend who’s going through a hard time.


*This article was written from the point of view of a dear friend who recently lost her grandma.

Psychology student. Writer. Speaker. A bundle of sunshine.

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