loving memory of gram

 

It’s 2 pm, on a crisp, now Thursday, afternoon. Chills creep down my spine, and a single tear rolls down my cheek as I realize she’s gone. I’ll never talk to her again. 

A week flies by and it’s time to move the body of my Guardian Angel. My Super hero- My Gram. 

Death’s a funny thing. It’s something we can all relate too; it’s something that, no matter how hard we try, it’ll will always be in the back of our minds. But, it’s also the thing that makes life worth living.

My Gram was a second Mother to me. She was at every birthday, every graduation, and every single moment of little success I did have. She was there to smile and congratulate me. I believe my Gram gave me my “server voice.” That voice that comes out of you when you’re server something better then yourself. You’re at true service to everyone around you. 

As I help carry the body of my deceased Gram out of the church, a wave of overwhelming regret comes within. A regret because I didn’t tell the people that came to the service how amazing Gram made people around her. I never spoke out my eulogy. An emotion hit me, hard. I saw Pastor Chuck. The pastor whom conducted her funeral and I walked up to him, swallowed my spit, and said “Pastor Chuck I’d like to say a few things about my Gram if that’s okay.” He said to me “Absolutely, as soon as we get to the Cemetary we’ll give you the mic to say a few final words.” Now I’ve done it. I had nothing prepared nor did I know what I should really say. There’s a multitude of things I could say but which one story was best? 

We arrived at the cemetery and

I take a some deep breath and Pastor chuck hands me everyone’s attention. I can’t stop now. My Gram needs me. 

I said this “My Gram made everyone light inside of them shine brighter then any star. She made everyone’s best version of themselves come out into the world. She certainly did for me. I have a personal dream to become an actor and help share My Gram with the rest of the world. It’s my new mission. It’s my new mission to inspire the people around me to become the best versions of themselves. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do this I just know that I’m going to do it. Whether it be through writing, acting, or film. I love my Gram and there’s not one person in this world that has met her that would disagree with me if I said ‘My Gram just simply loved life more then anyone. She was my real life super hero.” At this point I lost it. I didn’t know what else to say. 

As I talk to my Aunts (My Grams daughters) are grieving still. I am too. Even after receiving a degree in acting; I still feel unsatisfactory, unaccomplished and artistically empty. 

Understanding Grief 

Grief is a natural response. It helps us cope and heal when the connection with a loved one, has been irreversibly severed. It’s beyond painful, but it’s also necessary. 

In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced The Five Stages of Grief to the world. 

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Although these are common responses to loss (especially when it’s a loved one) there’s no timeline or structure to these responses as you move through them. You can go through these stages linearly, or you may jump around—experiencing them out of order and simulatensously—as I did. 

Kübler-Ross never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework for everyone experiencing grief. Before her death in 2004, she said this regarding the issue:

“They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”

Some people withdraw into a deep corner, isolating themselves from the world. Others will throw themselves into work, take drugs or overcompensate for distraction. And others will simply cry until there isn’t a single tear left to shed.

The hardest thing for me was trying to figure out how to grieve the right way. 

What I found was more artful then I’d like.  In acting class they say “there’s no wrong choice or right choice; there’s only stronger or weaker.” 

There isn’t a right way to grieve and there’s no rush to get back to normal.

You’ll develop a new normal, and that’s a blessing. It wasn’t until I realized that life wasn’t supposed to go back to normal that I took back control of my life.

Life and death are a personal journey. You’re allowed to do whatever it is that you need to heal, and whatever you feel is right. 

Suppressing your feelings and being tough or strong is a dangerous game to play; it builds an unstable emotional dungeon, ready to collapse at any moment. When you allow yourself to be open and be vulnerable, you allow the grieving process to do its job: heal you.

Reflecting back on the good ole days by writing out my memories; this is like nails on a chalk board. It’s hard to listen to my own thoughts though. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes living in the moment is the only skill I need to sharpen when I’m grieving. 

Living in the Moment, Even When it taste like garbage. 

 

If you’ve read any personal development, it’s continuously preached that living in the present is a fundamental aspect to success and happiness. But what do we do when the moment sucks?

How do we live in the moment when we are doing all we can to stay happy, from the waterfall of depression crashing down on us?

Eventually, you learn to sit in the pain, accepting it without judgment. 

Without this, you start playing the “What If” game.

What if I was there 10 minutes, before death? What if I spent more time talking with her and helping her? What if I called more, loved more, and on and on. Once you let that game in, it consumes you.

Instead of sleeping at night, you are wide awake thinking of million possibilities; convinced that if you did this or that you could somehow bring that person back.

Living in the moment when it sucks, allows you to avoid this never-ending wormhole.

When you resist the tsunami wave of emotions from death, they build up into a terrifying storm, that will eventually come crashing down on you.

The first days (and weeks) after my Grams passing, I allowed myself to succumb to the overwhelming misery; yet at the same time, I took action. Rather than ignoring the pain, I experienced it, completely and responded to it. I listened and gave it an identity. I let it consume me, not fighting or resisting, but watching, observing and learning from it.

I allowed myself to break into tears without judgment spontaneously. I’d break out in tears usually while working out at the gym. I tried not to hid it. I lived in the moment, even when that moment was raw, unfiltered misery. The tears eventually slowed…and the despair evaporated. By allowing pain to have its moment, its moment passed.

Forgiveness

Time doesn’t heal everything.

Spending my days scrolling through facebook videos and binge listening to Tony Robbins speeches and watching YouTube videos didn’t do a damn thing for me. It didn’t make the time go by faster or help me forget. Instead, it made each day seem more and more meaningless. 

Spending your time avoiding the pain is only pushing back the healing process. Time that’s well-spent encourages the healing process.

And the greatest way to spend time when dealing with loss is to marinate in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is vital in letting go and moving forward. Not only forgiving others but also forgiving yourself. Forgiving yourself of all the guilt you are keeping locked in a cage for your loved one.

Embracing the present moment, even when it sucks the most, is the only way to truly live.

Going forward doesn’t mean forgetting. Enjoying life again doesn’t imply that the person is no longer missed or somehow forgotten. It simply means that grief has run its course. 

There will always be a crater where my Gram once stood. By learning to embrace the awful moments in the present—the sad moments, the inevitable times when I remember I will never see her at another family dinner—I’ve learned that they, like everything, are not permanent. They are moments to be celebrated because they happened.

 

In Loving Memory of Jeannine Anne Nelson – Yurschak