6 Life Changing Lessons My Grandmother Taught Me After She Died

Ganiv Kaur Ganiv Kaur in Life Is Tough on 24 July, 2017

“Those we love never truly leave us. There are things that death cannot touch.” ~ J.K. Rowling

My mind racing like an old refreshing home movie, I saw images of my grandmother waiting at the gate to welcome us every vacation, her face radiating happiness, the aroma of mutton rice in the kitchen, playing cards and board games, going for long walks, chatting animatedly with her and much more. If she wanted to explore a new place, I would be her wing woman.

If I was overwhelmed by the insecurities of young adulthood, she served as a rock.

It was a fateful day, when I received a call around 5:30 in the evening and she broke it to me that she was diagnosed with cancer. The feeling numbed me, life had hit me hard.

My grandmother and I were interwoven, two threads running from the same stitch, navigating and enjoying different turns of life together.

When she died, it seemed like the whole world had collapsed, I felt cheated, betrayed and even questioned the existence of God. I was broken, every emotion within me had crumbled. Never ever had I thought she would leave me so early, I was just 22 years old for God's sake! I could see my dream shattered into tiny pieces, she had plans for my marriage and how she would dance on her favourite song ‘Lathe Di Chadar’. While there were moments when I felt stranded and abandoned, terrified of the unknown future, I was beginning to uncover all those lessons that she left behind for me to discover. That was what I had learnt from my grandmother and post her death so far. 

1. The power of human will

My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage. She used to go for chemo twice a week. Sometimes when chemo did not give adequate results, additionally she was prescribed heavy medicines. With every chemo cycle she was getting weakened, but her will power did not. She travelled to places, dinned out in different restaurants, looked into the mirror and applied make up every morning to look her best, fed my dog, washed clothes, tried out different recipes of pickles and sent them across to us.
From her I learnt the ability to fight my battles, and never give up so easily. I learnt the power of human will. There were times when people around me tried pulling me back. But today I can say with pride that I am a strong independent woman.

2. Don’t make impulsive decisions when you are emotionally drenched, take some time off to understand the situation

Grief made me feel exhausted. There were times when I was fully charged up and felt confident about myself. Next moment I was completely doubled with fear and pessimism, a blubbering mess of tears. Combining those two reactions together formed a cocktail of extremely impulsive reactions.

Those feelings had taught me the wisdom of pausing and how one needed not to react but respond. There would be times when people around you would push you to take immediate actions but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.


I have realized that we are responsible for our own acts. Then why not wait for the feelings to settle, get a hang of the situations, for the time to pass? If a situation does not feel right, pause. If you aren’t sure, consult people, listen to them and decide what to do next. Because in the end you don’t have to do things the right way but it is the way how we learn and grow as individuals.

3. Willingly able to help others in your best capacity.

I was amazed to see my grandmother the way she would take an extra mile to help others. Two months before her death she was enquiring how my Uncle could get through UN mission and how fruitful would it be for his career. She always wanted to help. She would consider others before self.
Even if you think your experience does not count, it does. My grandmother never felt that she knew everything or had all the knowledge but she used all her life experiences and knowledge to help others. I believe there is always an acquaintance or a friend who can benefit from your support. Let people know what others have got through and they are not the alone. I urge people not to remain silent, share yourself with others, this is your time.

4. Reach out to strangers.

While grandmother and I loved floating around the city, she would converse with strangers to share our stories, introduce me to them. Often I used to feel little embarrassed and felt that it was a waste of time.

Now I have realised, that was her way of sharing strength and charm. When she was undergoing treatment for cancer, there were numerable people who sent their wishes to her. Now I speak up. I talk to strangers.

It helps me to overcome my fear and not let self-criticism govern me. 

5. Find a little thing to be grateful in each moment.


After my grandmother’s death, I was much disoriented. Many of my illusions and fantasies were shattered. Fear and anxiety dwelled within me. Very little did I know how disconnected I was from reality as I was living in temporary bubble of fears.
Burst that bubble first and don’t let your fear grow on you. Find the “best thing” in small little things in life. Recognize one grateful thing that you can cherish for the day and most importantly thank God for all that he has given you. 

6. Life is not about fixing yourself but the ability to love and to be loved.

I spent months to figure out how I could heal myself through this trauma only to realize that there would be no final product. If I want to react to my anger, quickly respond to someone’s text or opinion, I don’t react immediately. I take a pause and think thoroughly before I proceed.

Life is all about putting yourself out there. Let no one shake your confidence. Say "yes" to your pain and accept who you are. This is what is beautiful. ‘To love and to be loved’.