I never felt that I was close to my grandmother. I was always slightly scared of her because she always had something to say about the way I look, my choices, and any other small detail she could pick up. I loved her - but I never felt close to her.
Three summers ago, she passed away from stomach cancer.

It is only now - three years later - that I'm realizing the significant place my grandmother held in my life and in my heart, and recently I have been faced with the unique challenge of dealing with my grandmother's death three years after the fact.

Sadly enough, as I begin to figure out ways to deal with my own loss, my closest friends are finding out that their loved ones (often grandparents) are falling ill. While I hate to assume the worse will happen, their confiding in me that they may lose a loved one has forced me to reflect on ways that I have dealt and am dealing with my grandmother's death.

Here is what I have been doing:

1.) Smile with her - I'm finding that there are weird incidences that trigger memories of my grandmother. Instead of being sucked in to the grief of realizing that she isn't here with me, I have been smiling at them, regardless of whether the memory is happy or sad. It is as if it is my grandmother that is showing me those memories and by smiling at them, I am acknowledging her presence and that I feel her - and that I smile with her.

2.) Talk to her - I was telling my friend about the one thing I cannot forgive my grandmother for - not coming to my high school graduation. Even four years after graduating and three years after her death, I was having a hard time letting it go. Then my friend suggested that I talk to her. Well, of course! And when I do, I like to hold or be in the presence of something that she gave me and sort of talk to the object, because sometimes it's easier to talk to an actual object than the air. I also enjoy reflecting on how I came to possess the object.

3.) Listen to her - Last year, I had to make a very important decision regarding my summer. I had two very intriguing and promising opportunities and no matter how many pros/cons lists I made or people I talked to, I couldn't make a choice. One opportunity would take me home to my family, the other would help me in the future with a potential career.

After four or five days of frustration and tears, my grandmother showed up in my dream. I don't remember the details, but I distinctively remember my grandmother being there. When I woke up, the first thought that came to my head was "Do what you want to do, and look great while doing it." That was my grandmother mantra. Do what you want to do (and look great while doing it). That day, I finally decided on the choice I really wanted to do - go home. She appeared in my dream to tell me that she was there for me and also to guide me. Since then, whenever I have to make a difficult choice, I remember my grandmother and her mantra.

All three ways acknowledge my grandmother's presence in whatever form she might exist right now. I'm not shutting her out of my life simply because she doesn't exist physically in the material reality.

Death is a physical loss, but if we move beyond the physical, I believe more than ever that death is also an opportunity to further your relationship with a loved one and gain insight to yourself.

Author's Bio: 

Intent.com is a premier wellness site and supportive social network where like-minded individuals can connect and support each others' intentions. Founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra, Intent.com aims to be the most trusted and comprehensive wellness destination featuring a supportive community of members, blogs from top wellness experts and curated online content relating to Personal, Social, Global and Spiritual wellness.