I’m finally working up the nerve to write about the loss my family has experienced. It’s taken almost two weeks. My eyes are already watering and I imagine that this post will be written through a veil of tears.
On October 18 my maternal grandfather, Thomas W. Cade, passed away peacefully while sitting in his recliner, having just taken a few sips of his coffee. He couldn’t have scripted a more suitable ending for himself if he’d tried.
Grief is a strange thing. A dear friend of mine who is battling her own grief has taught me so much during her journey, and she probably has no idea she has done so. Grief looks different for everyone. My grief will not look like your grief, and it may take me months to move from one stage to the next while it only takes you a few days or weeks. And it’s okay. It’s okay if I sit in the angry or depressed phase for a bit. I’ll process it and move on at in my own timing.
I’ve had to deal with a good bit of death from afar. Several people I had known most of my life passed away while we were in Naples. I think we process death and go through a different grieving process when we aren’t “at home”. When you are “at home” you live everyday without that person. You get acclimated to them not being there. You’re able to clean out things, go to the cemetery, pack up clothes and shaving kits and bottles of cologne. You get a smaller coffee pot because you no longer need to make coffee for two, but one. You develop a new normal.
When you are away from “home”, you are removed from the situation. You not there to hold the hand of your mom as silent tears fall down her saddened face. You can’t help pack up the 30 pairs of khakis hanging in the closet. Quite honestly, it makes it somewhat easier to deal with it all in the beginning. Your life goes on and while you think about the person who died you aren’t constantly reminded of their lack of presence. That all changes when you go back “home”. Things that were there when you left after the funeral aren’t there. A chair, a couple of caps by the door, a Ralph Lauren blue jacket, glasses on a dresser. They are all gone. And while everyone who has been there has been able to walk through the process of that change you are bombarded with it, sometimes with no warning. And the wound of that loss is ripped open and you have to deal with emotions and feelings that others have maybe already dealt with. If you’ve never lived “away” you can’t understand what it’s like to come back to someone not being there. I’ll never forget coming back from Italy and playing the piano in the church I grew up in. I looked out and a woman I’d known and loved my entire life wasn’t there. She wasn’t sitting by her husband. I was so shaken I didn’t think I’d make through the service. I hadn’t thought about not seeing her there. And sitting on that piano bench, I grieved.
Through all the grief, the sense of loss, the handshakes of friends, I think I finally the following verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Isaiah 26:3-4 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
My granny has been a pillar. Though her heart is broken, I saw her praise God, laugh, give to others, and reach out to others in our family and among her friends that were grieving. Though she had lost her husband of over 60 years, I witnessed her strength of character, love of her God, deep desire that to see Tom’s death bring about good, and her joy through tears of sorrow.
If my husband goes before me, I pray that I will handle his passing with the grace, peace, joy, love, selflessness and thanksgiving as my granny has done with the passing of her husband.