Grandparents are special people. My grandparents were an essential part of my childhood. Spending time with them was important. As a child, you don’t really think about losing them. You imagine they will be part of your world forever. Then you become a young adult, or in my case, a high school student and that idea is shattered.
When my Grandpa Mahar died, it was very sudden. Early on the morning of July 4th, he woke up before anyone else, sat down in his favorite chair, and did not wake up again. We had seen him the day before. The family would be gathering on the 4th to celebrate. How could he be gone?
I mostly remember shock and tears from that day, almost thirty-five years ago now. The reality of my mom losing her dad brought a new perspective on the frailty and brevity of life on this earth. And it was made even more difficult because there had been no chance to say goodbye. This seemed especially hard for my mom and her siblings.
This was not the case for my own children with their first loss of a grandparent. Before my father-n-law passed away, we knew our time was limited. Watching as death approached was not easy, but we found comfort in having time to say goodbye. He will have been gone for three years this coming week, and we miss him more with each passing year.
One circumstance is not easier than the other, just different. Grief is present in both. We hang on tight to memories. We look at photos, share stories, cling to anything that reminds us of the person we lost. And as soon as we think our grief is fading, a birthday, holiday, or other event brings it right back to the forefront.
Sometimes the grief catches us off guard, and we are encompassed by unexpected emotions. How do we respond? That depends on the person, for we are all different. But here are a few personal thoughts:
When tears well up
Let them fall
When your heart aches
Let words flow
When a friend is near
Lean on them
When feeling motionless
Take one step
When tempted to forget
For that memory
Is a piece of your heart
A memory of my Grandpa Mahar: He is wearing overalls and telling me if I do him a favor, he will dance at my wedding. 😉
A memory of my father-n-law: He would always bring me a box of See’s candy when traveling to California. We both had quite a sweet tooth. 🙂
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4