Daily Life

The strange grief of losing a grandparent you barely knew

A few weeks ago, my mother called me to tell me that my Bà Nội – paternal grandmother – had stopped eating and drinking. There wasn’t much doctors could do.

Several days later, I woke up to a text: “Bà passed away last night at 2:30am.”

Bà Nội was my last living grandparent. She was 94 when she died after battling severe dementia for years. I hadn’t seen her since 2012 – she lived in Canada, 16,000km away. I’d guess I met her less than 10 times in my life. Three years old, then four, then eight, 11, 13, 16, 21, 23. I was always changing, a different version of myself each time, but she stayed the same – gentle, soft, only ever half-smiling.

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