Grief and Stories
My grandmother’s funeral was yesterday and it was a lovely service. I cried a little listening to my two cousins describe what she meant to them and the family. I helped bear the casket as a pallbearer along with my step-dad, my husband, my uncles and my cousin Andy. We drove out to the cemetery where we had buried grandpa almost four years earlier (definitely did not feel that long ago). I watched as everyone took a rose from the flowers on top of the casket and I watched as my step-dad felt the full force of the fact his mom was gone forever. Everyone chatted for a while and talked about the other family members buried there. Then we got in our cars to go to grandma’s house for some food like we always do.
I was one of the first ones there and I started walking up the drive way and felt so normal. I then realized that I was anticipating grandma being in the house. Some family friends were cooking for the family but you could only see a silhouette and my memories filled in the rest. Walking up her front steps is when I realized I would never see her again. That hurt more than anything said yesterday or anything that happened in the hospital the weeks before. She wasn’t my biological grandmother, but she was my grandma and I loved her and I will miss her.
I went to the funeral to support my family. Funerals do not mean much to me, as I am not very religious and the stories told and the music played feels not so connected to the person who passed away. But I do believe that ceremonies are the first step. They can help you find your footing when you don’t know what to do next. The action of planning or attending the funeral is painful, but you know what to expect and suddenly you are on the path to healing. Whether or not you continue down the path of course if everyone’s personal choice. The way I continue to walk despite the pain is to tell stories. Such as how even though the hospital was hard to be in, I learned that grandma was a fighter, which was at odds of my image of her constantly worrying about us. And I learned that she really did put our happiness above her own, which is sweet but sad at the same time. I feel like I didn’t do enough to make sure she was happy too.
As the family starts to disassemble her physical life, I hope I am there for at least some of it. That is when the stories come out, when the forgotten memories are lifted to the surface. It can be a beautiful thing if you let it. I am sad but I want to also stop and remember the beautiful life that happened and stories are how you can do that.