April is a bittersweet month. While the days are getting longer in my neck of the woods and spring is slowly blooming its colors and scents, it’s also the month I lost both my grandparents.
My Nono passed on April 27, 1999 and my Nona passed April 17, 2019.
Both times our families were in two different countries.
Half of my family was in Argentina, and the other half in the US.
We never got the chance to mourn either loss together.
It’s tough to grow up a continent apart from family. You’d think that 26 years of being apart would make us pros at the whole distance thing. The truth is, the longing just gets stronger. And when something as tough as the loss of the pillars of our family tree pass, that’s a sting that doesn’t go away easily.
I watched a movie the other day that said a specific phrase that touched my heart:
“funerals are for the living, not for the dead.”
Sit with that for a second. Although we pay respects to a life lived and mourn a big loss. The dead cannot hear or feel our love for them. I know many believe that there is life after death, but I believe that when the body dies, all thoughts cease.
The funeral really is for the living. To come together and show support to one another. To share memories of the person lost. To aid the family anyway they can. To cope together because death is an enemy that plagues us all.
I can’t believe that death is a natural part of life. If it was, why does it hurt so much, even years after the person is gone?
Childbirth, I’m told, is an immense physical pain, but as soon as the mom holds the baby in her arms, a euphoric happiness overshadows any pain she felt during delivery. Many women in my family tell me that the pain they endured is instantaneously forgotten.
If death was supposed to happen, why aren’t we happy instead of sad? Why do we have organs with regenerative properties if we were supposed to grow old and die? I believe death is unnatural.
Funerals help the living cope. Funerals really are for the living. And we never had a real funeral for either one of my grandparents.
I’m sharing this with you because we endured a lot of loss last year. Whether through covid, injustice, sickness, or wrong place wrong time, loss is loss. Loss hurts.
I wanted to share with you some steps that help me cope with the absence of the people I love.
- I still talk about them
- I allow myself time to grieve and don’t shame myself for it. The first year is especially hard because their absence is a constant reminder. One less dinner plate at the table, one less present to wrap, the mail that comes home in their name. It’s a lot.
- I reach out to family and friends and reminisce on the good times. And if they offer help, I accept it.
- I watch old family videos with them in it and flip through their pictures.
- I journal to let out the feelings that weren’t soaked up in my tissues
- I do something nice for someone else. There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. It takes the attention away from my pain.
Enduring loss comes in waves. Some days are better than others. So, if today you are having a hard day without the person(s) you love, I hope these steps help you out friend.
You are not alone.
If today is a good day, keep these steps in your back pocket for a rainy day.
Sending the biggest hugs your way.