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The Privlege To Grieve

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I think we all have to admit somedays are harder than others. One moment you are OK – you can think of the person you loved with a smile on your face – the next you just can’t stop crying and wish the pain would go away.

I have been thinking a lot about that lately. Getting close to 7 months and the pain is still there – so raw – especially as we come close to the holiday season. I know people are tired of hearing me talk about her. I know my husband and kids are sick of seeing me cry and say, “I miss my Grandma.” I try to hide it. At moments I have even had the thoughts, “I don’t want to be sad anymore.”

Then something hit me – it is a privilege to grieve for my Grandma. She deserves to be grieved. She was the strongest, most loving, most amazing person I have ever met in my life – and I am pretty sure that I will ever meet. Every tear I shed is a testament to her love for me and all those around me that she loved. The sadness I feel is OK because she was such a great person and her death left a hole in my heart and in this world that will never be filled. A part of me is gone forever and I will never be the same person I was before she was gone.

Growing up I can’t even count the number of times I heard, “Your Grandma is amazing!” or “I wish I had a Grandma like yours.” My Grandma had so much love for all of us and has to be one of the most giving people who ever lived. She never asked for one thing for herself – ever – it was all for and about us. She lived in poverty her entire life but when you asked her about it she would always say, “What are you talking about? I am the riches woman in the world. I own my home, I have my children and grandchildren, I have everything I need – I only wish I had more money so that I could give more to all of you.”

So I realize it is a privilege to grieve for my Grandma. That suffocating pain that just hits out of no where and makes you double over in physical gut wrenching pain – I am glad to have it. Those endless moments of just pure sadness are also a cause of joy. Those moments when you just don’t want to live here in this world anymore because that person (my Grandma to me) isn’t in it – I am thankful for. There are so many people in this world who do not have and will never have someone like my Grandmother in their lives – and that is something that is truly sad. As much as this hurts everyday I will be thankful to God and the universe that I was given 36 years with this amazing wonderful person – and I would not give even a second of that back in order to alleviate this pain. Love you my beautiful Grandma – today and every day.

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Yesterday I remembered something my Grandma said about a year and a half ago. She was watching the twins play and she just said out of the blue, "They won't remember me." At the time I looked at her and of course told her, "Yes they will Grandma, what are you talking about." Now I know that at the age of 4 1/2 when she died that they may not remember her, but I will do my best to keep her alive in them - photos - stories - the same way Grandma kept her parents, in-laws, my Aunt Mary, and my Grandpa alive to me. . .

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So true, Angel! I am reminded of this passage from one of my favorite sources:

One Who Is Gone Can Live On in Memory

. . . The student ended his letter: I'm convinced the reason we are here is to remember, if we understand memory to be that uniquely human ability to create from the past a sense of meaning in the present and a trembling anticipation of possibility in the future.

When I finished Chuck's letter, I knew I had gained wisdom: A person who is gone can live on in memory as an active agent in one's life, not just as someone you love and miss, not just as a nostalgic sadness. Greg had been remembered by his student and that remembering had altered the quality of the student's life in the present and informed his life for the future . . . That, I realized, was how someone we love and have lost can remain in our lives forever, in a way that is neither morbid nor regressive. And in a way that honors that person at the same time that it makes room for others. We make meaning of the memories. From the memories we extract values, ideals, insight, pleasures, awareness.

This, then, was how Greg would fit into my life. I knew, for instance, that I would always care for my family in a different way because Greg had enabled me to see them in a new light. I would always feel more connected to the out-of-doors because with him I had learned new ways to see the woods, the mountains, the sea. I would always be more awake to the sensuous pleasures of life – colors, smells, sounds, tastes – because I had been able to experience them with him. And I would always know what love was, because he had loved me.

I would always enjoy the opera and the ballet, which I shared with him . . . I would always like red geraniums by the front door and eggs scrambled with brie. I would always want to drive a clean car, and I would always ask if the saltwater taffy had been made on the premises.

[source: Seven Choices: Finding Daylight after Loss Shatters Your World, © 2003 by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, ISBN # 044690503, pp. 256-257]

And you may find this helpful:

Telling Stories: Some Ways to Get Started

All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.

– Isak Dinesen

  • Create a story box with pictures, letters and mementoes of your loved one. Anytime you want to feel close to him or her, take out the memory box. As you examine the contents, you will start to remember. As you remember, the stories will begin to emerge. Share them, talk about them, tell them to each other.
  • Celebrate your loved one's birthday with cake and ice cream. Give a donation in memory of your loved one. Talk about their past birthday celebrations, invite family and friends to remember with you.
  • Create a holiday memory book filled with pictures and stories about celebrations you shared with your loved one.
  • Create a memory quilt or pillow. Use fabric from favorite jeans, ties, costumes, etc. The quilt or pillow will be a reminder of your loved one's life and a path to conversation and remembering. Working on it together with family and friends will help the stories emerge.Celebrate the anniversary of their death.
  • Go to the cemetery, have a prayer service of remembering, light a candle, share a meal with family and friends, and remember the time when . . .

[source: HopeLine Newsletter, February 2005, www.hopeforbereaved.com, hope@dreamscape.com. Reprinted with permission from Heritage Newsletter, Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, MN]

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Hi again, Angel ~ I just read a blog post inviting readers "to share your memories of a lost mum, gran or great-gran" and it occurs to me that you might want to post your lovely piece about your grandmother's pie dish (or yet another cherished memory of your grandmother) in the special place blogger Pippa Best has set aside for this purpose, In Mumorium. Read more here: Mums We Have Lost.

(And if any other of our members reading this feels so inspired, you might consider submitting a story of your own, too!)

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Angel, I am so right there with you. I had an episode last night, and I was just so overwhelmed with grief. I have so many questions, regrets, thoughts, that I often find myself, making a conscience decision to stop thinking! A part of me still waits, for what i do not know. My thoughts are with you, hope you have better days!

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