I have lost three grandparents in the last little bit. In a way, it was to be expected. Not many people get to their 40s with four living grandparents. But it feels weird being in the world without them. They have been in my world since I was born. When my husband died, it was a startling shock that affected every moment of my life. But I did not live near my very lovely grandparents, so it is so easy to forget they are gone.
Most people lose grandparents before losing a spouse. I remember one of my grandmothers said, when she heard Shah had been killed, “Things like this don’t happen to us.” She wasn’t wrong. Both sides of my family have lived blessed life, with few of the tragedies that affect so many others.
I remember being worried my grandparents wouldn’t live long enough to meet my husband and then worried they would never meet my daughter. Little did I know, they would outlive him by many years and my daughter would speak at her great-grandmother’s funeral.
There is little comparison between losing a spouse and losing a grandparent. Your heart still hurts with the pain of knowing you will not see them again until the resurrection, but it doesn’t affect your every day life, at least in my situation since I did not live near my grandparents. I have a million writings in my head about the tsunami of losses involved in losing a spouse, but this is really about losing a grandparent.
I actually intentionally set aside the grieving after the funeral to run back to work and responsibilities, but a big project concludes this week, I’ve promised myself to take a day to process, grieve, remember, and celebrate the life of my grandmother when it is over.
You certainly cannot always hold grief at bay or put it aside for a more convenient time, and I think there is a danger, when you can, that you will not return to it. But the pain of loss and love are very closely knit, nearly, but not exactly, two sides of the same coin. You don’t have the pain of loss without love.
I know some people really fear feeling the pain of loss and so they distract, ignore, stay busy, and try to forget; but I do not believe you can find healing that way. They may find numbness, the lack of pain; but so often that is at the cost of feeling love. The pain of loss will not break you. It will come and go in waves, but you will not drown. Someday you may even learn to relish the wave, as it means you also feel the love that you shared.
There is some meandering to this post. I thought I would be talking about the legacy of the grandmother I just lost and I still I hope I can get that written soon. But as I purposefully sat down this evening to write, I was struck by how complex some losses are, and how simple others are. This is a simple loss for me, no regrets, no daily life change. I will miss her until we are reunited. I will celebrate her life and learn from her legacy. As my daughter said, it will not be as fun at her house any more. My daughter remembers and cherished her delighted laughs at just about everything we ever did.
That is me, not my daughter.
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