Death - Grief Process
Loss of a Loved One
Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows the conflicting and gut wrenching emotions that shrouds the process of grief and loss.
About a year ago our family stood by grandma and ministered to her with kindness and acts of love, right to the very end.
We surrounded her with our smiles as she basked in the comfort of our family laughter, rested in the beloved voices of her family singing her favorite songs and reveled in the many touches and cuddles from oldest to youngest.
Grandma was 99 when she departed from this earth-place. She'd been a very healthy, strong and independent woman all of her life but as her life ebbed down her mind and health was wrought with confusion and hardship.
One of the most poignant memories, locked in the time of her last days, was the family gathered around her bed with voices melded together in song. Such was the case right up until the moment when she breathed her last breath.
In this hub I would like to introduce to you four up and coming young writers. I have chosen to feature these three guest writers because they are all family members who stood by and witnessed the candle of Grandma's life, which once shined brightly, dim then flicker and finally go out altogether.
Grief and Loss
The guest writers on the subject of grief and loss are my lovely and gifted granddaughters. I will feature the youngest to the oldest.
Each of my granddaughters are equally beautiful. Each has a bent which blesses our family in different ways.
Anna is a delightful and compassionate girl. She was only 11 years old when Grandma left this earth. Anna wanted to be there with Grandma and the family as oft. as she could. She is a sunshine type of girl who spread light and joy, to the family, throughout the last days with her Grandma's life. She has a beautiful and clear voice which rang out when she joined in to sing Grandma's favorite hymns.
Maddy is a whimsical light-hearted girl. At the time of loss she was 13 years old. Maddy was the faithful servant who stood quietly by reflecting on Grandma's needs. She was quick to grab a blanket, comb her hair, hold her hand and just be there. Kindness mixed with sorrow covered her every action.
Kenzie is our little scholar who enjoys quietness and reading as much as she does competitive sports. She too was 13 years old when Grandma died ... did I mention she is Maddy's twin? Kenzi had a rough time with the process. She cared and she asked questions but it hurt her to go near.
Kristin, my first born grandchild, was a regular nurturing Nellie. I know her to be one who would typically avoid entering this kind of pain but she amazed me by bravely stepping up with gentle love in Grandma's last days. She tenderly cared for Grandma by rubbing her head, whispering endearments into her ear, rubbing her arms and holding her hand - even when, as death closed in - those hands turned hard and cold.
Here, in their own words, are their thoughts on grief and loss revealing the struggle and process that took place in the private place of their hearts.
As the color of you faded
Our grief and joy debated
As you took that fall
Our grief won for most of us
But you'll always stay with us
As you debated to cross the bridge to Heaven
We all knew you were not forsaken
As you took your final breath
on I'll Fly Away
You flew to Heaven up and away
Though we miss you more than silver
You'll always be our treasure
A Day in Rest
do you remember?
a day in August
I could feel the darkness closing in
as your breath became gasps
like those of children in horror of a movie
as our songs carried on
as our voices rang out in sorrow
all the color from you drained away
almost like water on a painting
like rain on a window
your breathing became slower and slower and
as your color faded away so did the heat of your body
you came in and out of death
like you were deciding whether or not to cross the river
from here to heaven
we sang many sorrowful hymns before you left
but only one I do remember
we sang the words “I'll fly away” over and over until
you were gone in the words
a sudden panic came over me
like a wave swallowing up its victim
you had finally crossed that river
I'll Fly Away by Gaither Homecoming
A Day in August
do you remember?
a day in August
we were sitting in pews
listening to stories
we laughed and we cried
and we cried some more
then came a duet
they sang like angels
their voices were so beautiful
the song spoke to us
making us cry yet again
we had to leave and face the unwanted
the cars went up the street in one straight
the purple flag on our window
it knew where we were going
the burial is always the hardest
this one was no exception
there was sobbing
that's all there was for a long while
As the lid closed
and the casket was lowered into the ground
the final cry left our lips
Mickey Ream was put to rest after 99 years
she was left at the graveyard
right next to Stanley Ream
I'll Fly Away
It was a beautiful, and humid August day outside. The birds were chirping, and the air smelt of freshly cut grass. I had left work early on that beautiful Monday afternoon. I drove my car, for what seemed like hours, until I reached a parking lot full of cars. I slowly pulled into a parking spot directly in front of my Great Grandmother’s nursing home.
I had driven to this nursing home several times before, but this time it felt different. I began to notice things I had never noticed before. The nursing home was a pale grey color, similar to the sky before a rainstorm. The bushes were full of beautiful, bright, blossoming, yellow flowers. The sidewalk leading up to the nursing home seemed to drag on forever.
I struggled trying to pull myself up from the driver's seat of my tiny car. My body felt limp, and heavy, as if I was made of steel. When I finally did manage to pull myself up, I was greeted by the scorching sun beating across my body, and shining through my eyes.
Flustered, I began my walk up to the giant, steel grey door, which looked extremely similar to a prison door. As I felt myself getting closer to the door my stomach began to twist and turn into a million knots. I could taste my breakfast trying to jump from my stomach, and crawl out of my mouth. My whole body was shaking, my mind was racing, and beads of sweat were trickling down my palms as I reached for the steel handle door.
Behind the door were two more doors before I could reach the door where my Great Grandmother lie on her deathbed. Each door required a code I had to punch in before I could enter the next room. I had finally reached the third door, and I held my breath as I pulled the heavy door open with my tiny fingers.
The small hallway was barely big enough for two small people to fit through. The aroma of coffee, flowers, and perfume burnt through my nostrils. At the end of the hallway lie my Great Grandmother's door wide open. I tiptoed into the tiny room full of family members there to say their last goodbyes to Grandma Mickey.
As my eyes shifted to my petite Grandmother's body I could see she looked much worse than the previous days I had stopped by to see her. She was curled up into a tiny ball lying on her side. Her hair was pushed back and out of her face. Pieces of her once soft luxurious skin seemed to slowly fall from her face.
She smelt of something that could only be described as death itself or a body rotting from the inside out. My family members had been rubbing baby powder over her rough, cracked skin in attempt to cover up the toxic smell.
For a brief moment I took my focus off the smell and focused on the tiny movement coming from my Grandmother's chest. Her chest rattled as she took each tiny breath. The sound made me cringe, as I had never heard such a vile sound breaking through another human's chest. I could tell she was nearing the end. She could have a week, days, hours, or even minutes left to live.
I took a seat in a small wooden chair next to my Grandmother's bed. I kissed her hand and rubbed her head. Unlike the other times however, she could not rub my hand back. Her eyes had been closed for days, and I tried to remember the last time I saw them open. It was Christmas time when the family all gathered to take pictures with one another. Her eyes were stern and watery blue like glass.
I remember many wonderful things about my Grandma. When she would hug someone she would hug them with her whole heart and I knew this because, she never wanted to let go. She was a great cook. She cooked the best mashed potatoes and pies of of anyone I've ever know, and she would never let anyone waste food because she wanted us to appreciate the wonderful gifts God had blessed us with.
For the third day in a row I said goodbye to my Grandma, just in case she flew into Heaven and I wasn't able to be by her side. I kissed her hand and excused myself from my seat. Shortly after, two nurses came in to reposition my Grandmother's body, However this time something was different, something was wrong. My Grandmother's body was turning purple and blue, and her face was suddenly as white as a ghost. The nurses then left the room and advised us she did not have much longer.
There were nine of us in the room that day. We all gathered around Grandma Mickey and began to rejoice and sing for her with tears in our eyes. Her once beautiful, sparkling eyes that had been closed for days suddenly popped wide open. She gazed around the room, and knew we were all there to be with her.
She then took such huge breaths that each one seemed like it was her last. The angels were rejoicing, waiting impatiently for Grandma to join them in paradise. We finally began a song called "I'll Fly Away." As we sang she took her very last, long, deep breath. She gazed around the room one last time and flew away. Her body lay still and lifeless; as if all that was left was a shell of the once kind, gracious, stubborn, Godly woman she once was.
That day was the last day my Grandmother graced the world with her presence. I will no longer take time for granted because every single second counts. I will never take a person on this earth for granted because they may not always be around. I will no longer fear death because with death comes peace.
The inner thoughts of four precious girls were expressed with heartfelt well crafted words. I praise God for their lives and the depth of beauty I see in each one.
There were other grandchildren present who witnessed and experienced a grieving of their own. Each one knew they were fully loved and shared in the comfort of knowing we had each other to hold on to.
Great Grandma was all about being in the middle of everything. She loved family and didn't hesitate to share her opinion about anything and everything having to do with each one. ;) It was clear to see that was comforted by being right in the middle of our attention and devotion ... right to the very end.