Grieving our Losses and Learning To Carry On

And So We Grieve


So far, this is the toughest blog post I've had to write.  I'm writing on 4 hours of sleep, a headache, a whole lot of tears, a whole lot of grieving, and a heavy heart.  You see, my grandfather died yesterday.  He was 95.  My grandma, 93, survives.  They had a rock solid 73 year marriage.  And he was a great man.  So, yes, we are sad.  We've cried a lot, grandma has been angry a few times, and we've said little.  And we grieve.  

I'm 40.  I've never known life without him.  I will remember him for his whistling; he could whistle like a songbird.  I can see his eyebrows lifting, his smile big, and hear him saying, "Hey Little Babe" when I walk in their house.  I can remember his endless patience in teaching me to ride my bike.  He was a quiet, but strong fortress in our family.  He defied odds by living 95 years when doctors thought his heart couldn't survive beyond 50 due to damage from rheumatic fever as a child.  He never gave up.  He was persistent, hard working.  And while the last 2 years he was just plain tired and ready to leave his earthly home, he lived with intention and amazing integrity to the end.  He was the ultimate caretaker. He never stopped learning, he loved without judging.  He was quiet and said only important words, and not a lot more.  He was humble.  He was kind.  And so we grieve. 

 What's not to miss?  I've never heard an ill word spoken of him.  Not ever.  We miss him.  We missed him 60 seconds after he passed.  Death stings.  It is one of the hardest things we face in our lifetime.  Learning to live life without someone we love.  Never to touch them, to hug them, or to hear their voice again.  And so we grieve.

And We Carry On...

But, it is a part of life.  A very painful, but very real part of life.  And we have to get through it.  We have to cope.  As a highly sensitive person, I've had to learn to push through.  Not only do I carry my grief, I carry the grief of everyone around me.  Being highly sensitive means that I literally walk through life passing my heart around for others to use to soak up their emotions hoping that I can carry their burden them.  But that's okay.  I've accepted that as one of the gifts that God blessed me with.  I will carry on.

For God so Loved the World, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16

God has also given me the strength, and only through His promises and His word, to carry on.  To know that death is part of the plan, albeit a crappy part of the plan, but a part of the plan.  Giving my life to Him means that we will live in eternity with those that we've lost.  Our time on earth is so brief.  Heaven is a perfect place.  So, while those of us who are left behind are miserably sad, the loved one that we lost is in perfect peace. So, death isn't sad for the one who is gone, it's sad for those of us left behind.  The memories will always be in our hearts, my grandpa will always be there, and when he died a piece of my heart died with him.  And I will carry on.

He had a profound impact on my life.  I will live my life in a way that would make him proud and continue his legacy.  It's okay to be sad, it's okay to be a little bit mad about it, but it's not okay to stop living.  It's not okay to stop carrying out our purpose.  It might be okay to stop for a few days or a week to grieve, but the pain will always be there.  The memories will never go away.  And I'm going to allow myself to grieve, I'm not going to pretend this hasn't happened.  But better days are ahead and I know that the pain from this initial sting will lessen.  I will carry on.

Too often people expect others to just deal.  To move on without grieving.  And that just isn't healthy.   I spent the whole day with my grandmother after he passed.  It was an emotionally exhausting day, especially because I am empathetic to a fault.  But I wouldn't have changed a thing.  It's not easy saying good-bye as his granddaughter, and it was even more heart wrenching to watch his bride of 73 years say her final good-byes.  But, we are gonna get through.  She doesn't feel that way right now, but we have to.  And here are some things I do myself to cope and ways that I help my grandma to get through these tough times:

We Cry 

We cry because crying is okay.  Tears are a normal and necessary response to pain.  Not just physical pain, but also emotional pain, which, quite honestly, can stick around a lot longer and leave a much heavier scar than physical pain.  It's okay to cry.  It doesn't make you weak, it makes you a human being.  Let the tears flow.  

We Remember

We talk about him.  We talk about him a lot.  And of course, we talk about all the good things (because there really weren't many bad things anyway).  But you know what else we do, we think of him in silence. And silence is okay, too.  And in writing, like I'm doing now.  Writing is a great release to me.  Talk out loud, talk on paper, think silent thoughts.  Devote time to remembering the impact they had on your life and in celebrating them.

We Listen

We listen to one another without judgement.  Maybe a little redirection for my grandma when she just doesn't think she can live another second without him.  And I get her heartbreak.  I don't judge her for it, but most importantly we:

Keep Things In Perspective

God's timing is perfect.  My grandpa's story on earth is over.  His purpose fulfilled.  He's left an impression and a huge impact on my life.  He's shaped me.  He's certainly shaped my grandma.  But you know what?  Our purpose isn't fulfilled yet.  God's not done with me.  He's not done with grandma.  And while grandpa will not be forgotten, not ever, we will continue to live, to carry on our purpose.  I will continue to live out my purpose, which is loving others, loving Jesus, and showing Jesus to others every day.  Not by perfection, but simply by authentically loving others.  Which is exactly what my grandfather did.

That is what we can do.  It's what we do to get through.  We grieve.  Emotions are scary to some people.  And I used to try to hide mine.  I still tend to withdrawal and want to be alone, but I mostly do that because I can only soak up so many people's emotions without sometimes needing to take a step back.  To restore.  But I also know that as hard as that can be, God gave that to me as a gift.  A gift I can use to help people every time by truly feeling their pain. And I will use it.  I will embrace it.  I will carry on.  I will never forget.  I will embrace the memories I have of my grandfather and his impact on my life.  I will be forever grateful.  But as the pain subsides, I will continue to live out my purpose here on earth.  Loving God.  Loving others.  Being grateful for the blessing that my grandpa was in my life and living out the legacy that he started.  Thank you, Jesus, for grandpa's life.  Today and for a while, I will grieve with my whole heart and then I will carry on.

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