The past two weeks have had me in more directions emotionally than I had expected. They all came in a rush with more highs and lows than I could have foreseen. Truthfully, most of them were not at all related to our circumstances and the state of our world in pandemic. Some of them were greatly impacted by those events, but the rest flowed from the phone call telling me my grandma had taken a turn for the worse and my mom was on her way to the nursing home to be with her.
Nearly four hours later, grandma passed away with only my mom and a nurse by her side, as I was on the phone telling my grandma I loved her, my mom would not be alone and the Lord was waiting to greet her home. I found out later that not long before my phone call, my grandma had a tear run down her cheek as she said the word, “home”. Now somehow, my previous blog post title (Walking Her Home) seemed even more fitting. While I was not allowed to be there physically to help her walk those last hours, I cannot help but feel relief in the blessing of walking close with her during the previous weeks.
What has happened since her passing and during the time of uncertainty with the virus, has made the journey of grief an unclear one. As I’ve grasped at understanding, not so much grandma’s death, but the feelings I could not bring to clarity, I think that I’ve begun to put some of the pieces of emotion together.
My family went ahead with funeral plans, setting it for five days later, on Tuesday, March 17. As it approached, the world around us was just beginning to spin faster, signs of shut down or limitations were taking place. We had chosen to only have a short visitation prior to the funeral, but due to the state of life around us, many people could not or chose not to come. The night prior, my husband and I even decided not to bring our children because of the growing concerns. What stands out for me now as I’m processing it all is the feeling of being alone and now, weeks later, understanding that I did not feel comforted that day and it was no one’s fault directly. A sign was at the church—for our safety and that of others, but its impression now is imprinted in my mind as it told others not to extend outward signs of sympathy. What I’m missing is those signs of comfort and love by others. I am a person who gives and appreciates hugs, as well as emotional connection. To have missed the care from others, although most of whom were strangers to me, is still tugging at my heart. To miss out on the connection and hug of sympathy as I mourn has helped me gain insight into the importance and value of both in a deeper way than I have ever known. Ironically, connection to community and people were strong traits of my grandma’s and now in the wake of her death, what I find lacking.
As I roam on this path of grief and sorting while in the middle of a disruptive pandemic this Lent, I found a recent meditation on the Thirteenth Station offered online during the Stations of the Cross with St. Cloud Newman Center to put into words the gravity of my heart:
“Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way, especially when it touches us closely…If it is understood as the end of everything, death frightens us, becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise. It severs every relationship and interrupts every journey…If my life has been a journey with the Lord, a journey of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the final moment of my earthly life as the definitive, confident abandonment into his welcoming hands.”(from “Stations of the Cross: In the Words of Pope Francis.”)
It may be that I’m longing for connection as I feel more isolated at home with my family these days or perhaps it’s the severed relationship that interrupts our family journey without my grandma in the days and years ahead. Accepting that God’s hand and plan are bigger than my own, relying on His faithfulness and grace is how I’ll be finishing out Lent. While being grateful for the unplanned days with grandma in the last month, just the two of us, so that our heart connection would grow and help sustain me as I walk the days ahead.