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I’ve Been Grieving for 30 Years and I Didn’t Know It.

I was born with a birth certificate that said father unknown.

By Melissa SteussyPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 3 min read
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I was told that I called my grandpa dad when I was little. I do know I loved the heck out of that guy and have many photos of me as a child sitting in his lap while he held me lovingly.

At around 12 I stopped being as involved in family gatherings and was more interested in hanging out with friends. I still had never met my biological father and I loved my grandpa immensely, but a wild rebellion took hold and I wanted nothing to do with the family.

When I got the call that my grandpa died I had just turned 16.

I was actually laying in bed with a boyfriend after sneaking in the bedroom window of the apartment he and his dad shared.

I immediately got in the car when I learned the news and although my mom didn’t tell me over the phone as she didn’t want me to upset while driving I fought through my tears to see the road as I made the trek to my grandparents’ condo.

I was told that he passed in the night and I poured myself some coffee. I would have loved anything stronger.

When I got home I walked past my mom’s boyfriend and went straight to my room to call another boyfriend who didn’t show enough sympathy. That was the end of him.

I was sad and didn’t know how to process a loss that significant.

My home wasn’t a safe place to be and staying with a multitude of boyfriends was getting old.

Soon after my grandpa’s death, I did meet my biological father but we never quite had the father-daughter dynamic I craved, unless you count inappropriate gestures, snorting meth, and smoking crack a wholesome father-daughter relationship.

I asked him one day in the cab of his van, “what happens if we get addicted?” “Do you think you’re addicted?”he asked. “Well, no, but what if I am?” “We can stop whenever we want to, he says as he takes another toke of the glass pipe.”

I never processed my grandpa, who was like a father to me’s death. When I got sober at 21 I finally cried and went to see his stone plaque on the wall of the cemetery. I felt a deep sadness, and it has stayed stagnant in the lower part of my belly for all of these years.

This year during Covid I found some special pictures of us together when I was small and for my inner child, I placed them in frames in my room. They bring me joy. They make me feel loved and now that he and my grandmother in addition to my parents have passed, leaving me an orphan here on this Earth I choose to feel the pain of emptiness. I choose to find that grief and let it up and out. I choose to let the sadness and emptiness overtake me. I choose to remember not to shove it down. I try to feel his presence. He and my grandmother were the ones who showed me what it felt like to be loved and I haven’t felt that as intense since. Besides with my own children who are growing too big now to let me hold them.

I’ve been learning how to hold myself. How to keep myself feeling safe, loved, and calm without relying on a spouse or partner. I’ve been more vulnerable and less disassociated with my emotions. I’ve been present. They say grief isn’t linear and I believe them.

I am a 45-year-old woman and I miss my grandpa.

And that’s okay.


About the Creator

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

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