Loss. Eventually we all face it. So much of the time our feeling of loss is conected to what we have said or done, not said or not done, and while we miss that person, our grief is almost always about our loss, not their loss of life.
It is never easy when someone close to us dies. My first recollection of this was when my grandmother died 35 years ago. I missed her terribly. There was a party after the funeral, I didn’y quite get it – the celebration of her life. Her mother suvived her by another 15 years. I remember for a long time dreaming that she was alive – hiding from me and I “found” her and I could not understand why she would choose to hide herself from me. I always woke feeling good at having found her and being mad at her for hiding from me. I don’t think that I have had that dream in the last twenty years. This dream survived because I found it difficult to let go of that grief at least in my sub-conscious mind.
My other grandmother died just about 6 weeks ago. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, 94 years old – she was so very tired and ready to go. And while my father and his siblings kept a vigil, GiGi was ready. She wanted to go home. She had a deep faith as all her children do and she was ready to see her husband and parents and will wait for the rest of her family to come.
People were able to visit, phone and reminisce. I am sure that happened with my other grandmother, Gammy, but I don’t really remember that aspect. I know that the grief was different for me. I suppose part of that has to do with the difference in my maturity, these events are separated by 35 years, but part of that has to do with my own beliefs. And frankly part of this remains totally untested as my parents and their spouses are still around for me to tell them that I love them. I have not had to imagine a life without them or my wife or daughter. In the meantime, I try to tell them how much I love them so that I do not feel that remorse for the unsaid words.
I believe that when those that are dearest to me are no longer physically in my life, that their memory will serve and that they will still be a part of my life because they exist in my heart and mind. Will that be enough? I doubt it. In the meantime, I believe it. It staves off the reality that if life unfolds as it should, I will survive my parents, celebrate their lives and grieve my loss, and my daughter will do the same for my wife and I.
I do still hold conversations with all my departed loved ones. I think that they hear me. It feels like they do. I had a tenuous relationship with my father-in-law, and still I speak with him too. I keep it cordial and upbeat, nothing controversial, we did not agree on some things. Yes, I do hear him answer me in my head also – that is why I keep it cordial and avoid controversy.
I want to believe that keeping these ongoing dialogs going, will help me when I must let go of those closest to me. Will they know how much I have loved them and cared for their happiness? I believe so. At some point though I will know. Won’t I? Perhaps.
Gammy and Pop Pop, Grandma and Grandpa, I love you! A big hug sent from me to you!
What could you do if… You could embrace departed loved ones, one last time?