I had finally started to feel the Christmas spirit and WAM, a family members news of passing filled my ears from over the phone. My poor Grandfather was grief-stricken and I could hear the crackling in his voice as he told me the news. As the days followed, I could see the impact of my uncle’s death through my Facebook page. It was affecting family and friends that were posting pictures, sharing their emotions and memories as they counted down days to the services. As I was preparing for attending the wake that afternoon; I felt a fearful dread of the sorrow and pain that would be accompanying my loves ones that would be attending. Walking into the church I could not only see but, feel the emotions radiating through the room. I made my way over to my grandfather who greeted me with a hug. It wasn’t just a simple good to see you hug, it was an emotional longing embraced hug.
When he pulled away from me tears were gathered in his eyes. He said, “Christmas will just never be the same anymore.” He started to tell me about my grandmother who was also, doing very poorly in health. We would be lucky if she makes it to Christmas he said. Deep inside my heart I was hurting more for him than my grandmother or uncle.
The following day I walked into my grandmother’s room at the nursing home and found my grandfather sleeping in bed next to her. My grandmother looked so fragile and seemed to have aged years over the last few months. My heart plummeted and I was overwhelmed with the sight of raw love. I seen my grandmothers eyes open, gently I told her who I was and grabbed and held her hand. I told her I loved her and she smiled. My grandfather looked over at me with tears in his eyes. I fought back my own tears for as long as I could managed before I felt them sliding down my face. I left with my grandfather and he told me he hates to leave her because, he is not sure if it is going to be the last time he sees her alive. Between my uncle and my grandmother my grandfather was falling to pieces. We shared another long embracing hug as we, said good-bye to each other. When I made it to my car I just sat in there alone thinking about all the memories I will cherish, as I remember my grandmother. One of them being this last moment with my grandfather sleeping and holding her as she slept.
When my son died his death was the most devastating experiences I have ever had. I would think the loss of my grandmother would be that traumatic for my grandfather. Trying to find the best coping mechanisms for daily functioning just felt impossible. Everyone around me at a loss of words or seemed to make me feel worse. Only with time did the pain become tolerable but, never gone.
Looking at my grandfather over the last week, I can see the physical and emotional toll everything has had on him. The most valuable thing I can give him is time and compassion. Understanding that everyone will grieve differently and on their own time frame. Saying good-bye to someone you love is never easy. Preparing to say good-bye is probably harder due to the uncertainty of when death will come. The awful experience of knowing the inevitable tragedy could happen at any time. Spending the last few moments you have with someone saying good-bye to them.
This experience only intensifies my feelings on the values I hold dear regarding family; it is a sobering reminder that life is only temporary and with birth, comes death. In these moments we tend to realize how important family is. How easily it becomes to take people and the “norm” for granted. Take time to express gratitude to your love ones, what they have brought to your life. Live in the present moment; forgive if needed (is not the same as forget or not acknowledge). Family is one of the most treasurable gifts we have.
“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”