Today, I want to share with you all something that I have recently learned in the midst of a loss that has forever changed me.
My family is now approaching a month since we have lost my sweet Nana.
This loss was the first time that my mind and body experienced this form of grief. I have to say the outcome of the experience was far different than the fear that surrounded my expectation of grief before she had passed. The day that we all thought we would dread the most turned into the most beautiful and heartbreaking experience that we could have endured. As my Nana was surrounded by her husband, caregiver, three daughters, son in law, and most of her grandchildren she so gracefully took her last breath and entered a world that is far beyond what we can even imagine here on earth.
In the middle of this moment it was difficult to imagine that we would never again hear the sound of her gentle voice or her heartbeat whenever we hugged her goodbye. It felt as though the mind instantly went into thinking about all of the things in which we had lost in the realization that there was no turning back. However, as the days went on something began to shift inside every single one of us. My entire family, all 15 of us, gathered in my Aunts house for about two weeks. We mourned, we cried, we screamed, we danced, we chanted, we sang, we played musical instruments, we laughed, we shared endless memories, and we looked at about a thousand pictures and videos that we all had saved over the years. In our hearts we had just lost the most important woman in all of our lives. The backbone to our family, and the creator that guided and molded a path that we would all follow in. At first, our hearts grieved for the missing piece that we began to feel. All of a sudden it felt like there was a hole that could never be filled. However, I think that idea began to be a false reality when we started to provide space for each and every one of us to grieve in the way that we needed to. The “hole” was filled with her spirit. It was filled with all of the ways that our Nana taught us how to be. She was now connected to us more than ever before.
It has almost been a month, and there are plenty of days that are filled with an overwhelming sadness that I just have to allow my body to cry though. But there are also many days that I can feel her right there with me, and a deep calmness rushes over my body that leaves a smile on my face.
I have learned that in the midst of this grieving process there is so much beauty that can only be felt in the complete utter feelings of pain that make your entire body hurt.
Most of all, I learned that there is absolutely no preparation that could even amount to this kind of experience. There are also no assumptions that can prepare you for the pain that you may begin to feel, even if your brain wants to try to prepare you as much as it can. I went into this day, knowing that it was coming, thinking that it was going to absolutely destroy me, just at the thought of living on this earth without her. All of these ideas, expectations, and assumptions instantly fell beneath my feet as she took her last breath.
I want to leave you with this, there are going to be so many times in life that we are going to have to face the unexpected, the uncomfortable, and traumatic events. There is no amount of knowledge that can prepare us for the ways we will respond in times of utter pain and distress. Until we are in the middle of it and we realize that all we have is choice. We chose to let her spirit fill inside of us and be completely present in the home of which we all grieved. We chose to come together as a family, as all of the differences that we thought we had completely vanished. We chose to let our surrounding community support us and fill our hearts with love. We chose to allow our bodies to process through the pain, and we also chose to laugh and play because it filled us with joy. There is simply no point in fearing the inevitable, fearing what we cannot control (which I am still working on). However, this is a point in the choices that we make as pain settles among us.
There is a point in growing, feeling, processing, and shining with grace as we walk through this beautiful thing called “life”.