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A few days after I lost my grandmother, the traveling began and it kept everything at bay for two weeks.  There wasn’t time to sit and think; if I was at home, I was moving the twins through life or preparing for a trip or cleaning up from a past one.

And I knew this would happen.  I said it would happen.  I told Josh that November 15th would roll around, the travel would be over, and it would be like removing my hand from over the wound.  You just never know if it is starting to heal or still bleeding until you peek.

Last night, I was baking cookies for our volunteer project and this is the thought that keeps returning: I can never ask a question again.  I prepared for this.  One afternoon, many years ago, my cousin and I went to visit her and asked her dozens of questions about the past.  There is a tape somewhere in the basement that I made that day.  I have the family tree recorded, my favourite recipes copied, her health history memorized.  But it feels like there are still things to know, things I forgot to ask.  And now it’s too late.

A few nights ago, the ChickieNob was holding a stuffed animal I didn’t recognize and when I asked her where it came from, I have to admit that I thought the answer would be Lindsay because it was similar to a teddy bear at her house.  “Grandma S gave it to me,” she said carefully.

And, of course, I started to cry.  I had to explain to her that I wanted to talk about Grandma S, that I was glad she brought her up.

I don’t want them to ever feel scared to bring her up with me.  I was that child–the one who never wanted to discuss people who had died because I was so worried that the adults would start crying.  And I’m still that child sometimes.  I didn’t understand that I hadn’t made them sad with my question or comment, any more than the ChickieNob made me sad by sleeping with a stuffed animal my grandmother gave her.  The sadness is there regardless–the questions merely move it from the basement to the foyer.  The damn emotions are still taking up space in your heart, regardless of where they reside in your figurative house.

By which I mean, they’re still boxes you need to shlep with you if you move.  Your emotional baggage.

It’s something those in the community healing after a loss probably know well.  That you want to talk about it, you want to remember.  Talking and crying; it’s all part of the healing process.  That it would feel wrong to suddenly stop talking about her as if she hadn’t existed.  That the tears aren’t a sign that the person should stop–hold back their words–but instead, the tears are simply a human response to the grief that stirs up like sand at the bottom of the Chesapeake after a fish passes by.  It settles again into a new smoothness.  We wouldn’t ask the fish to stop swimming.  I would never ask the ChickieNob or Wolvog to hold back their questions and commentary.  It stirs things up, but it can also be a good thing to move sand around.


1 Journeywoman { 11.18.09 at 10:20 am }


Beautiful post. I too was that girl who wanted to talk about Grandma but worried about making the adults cry.

I wish you comfort in your memories. Also, you have my private email–email me anytime and you’ll have a phone number of someone who will listen to all the stories your husband might have heard too much.

*hugs* again.

2 Rebecca { 11.18.09 at 10:34 am }

Sometimes, I wish that someone would give me the opportunity to cry and not stop talking.

3 N { 11.18.09 at 10:39 am }

Beautiful. And true. ♥

4 Sarah { 11.18.09 at 10:40 am }

Not being able to ask questions was one of the things that hit us the hardest after my husband lost both of his parents in these last two years. We were sifting through pictures, and realized that if we didn’t know who someone was, or what the picture was about…there was no one to ask! It was so incredibly sad.
Eventually, we get to a point where the crying turns to laughter over the stories and memories. I hope your healing journey brings you joy as well as pain as you remember your grandmother.

5 Katie { 11.18.09 at 10:51 am }

This is a beautiful post, and so true. When my grandmother passed away, I didn’t want to talk about her, for fear of hurting my mom. But ten years later when my grandfather died, I was older and understood better that talking was okay–and so was crying. Talking and crying soothes the wounds, and though they will never heal completely, I hope you find comfort soon in the memories she’s left behind.


6 Anjali { 11.18.09 at 10:59 am }

I’m so sorry for your loss.

7 Lavender Luz { 11.18.09 at 10:59 am }

You are so wise, my friend.

When my grandma died, the best thing anyone said to me was, “Tell me about her.”

That helped me heal more than flowers and cards.

You are a good mama and a good granddaughter.

8 Valery { 11.18.09 at 11:03 am }

I loved your analogy. “You just never know if it is starting to heal or still bleeding until you peek.”

9 Shelli { 11.18.09 at 11:13 am }

This is such a timely post for me. I haven’t blogged about it yet, but I had a terrible tragedy occur in my family yesterday… and D. saw me crying, and I pretended not to be… because I didn’t know what to say yet.

As much as I thought the loss of some of past loved ones has rocked me to the core… as much as infertility had rocked me to the core. I found something yesterday that cut much deeper. And soon I will need to face my little D and I am thinking I shouldn’t pretend it didn’t happen.

Hugs to you Mel.

10 Tootertotz { 11.18.09 at 11:21 am }

Beautifully said. From one talker about the people who have passed to another.

11 Angie { 11.18.09 at 12:00 pm }

I love what Rebecca said. I wish that too somedays. Last night, I overheard my daughter ask my husband to read her the book “When Dinosaurs Die.” It is a great children’s book about death. It still takes my breath away that I have this book for my two year old. But my husband said, “I’m sorry, honey, I don’t want to read this book tonight. It makes me sad thinking about Grandpa.” And I, on the other hand, put down ANYTHING I am doing to read that book to her. Hopefully, rather than drawing conclusions about how men and women grieve, she realizes that not everyone deals with grief and sadness the same way, but sitting with whichever way someone chooses is the most important part of being a friend.

12 Kristin { 11.18.09 at 12:30 pm }

What a beautiful post and how wonderful it was that you reassured ChickieNob that she could talk about her.

13 Melissa G. { 11.18.09 at 12:31 pm }

Beautiful post.

I’m so sorry for your loss, time will bring the peace that no words can.


14 Kymberli { 11.18.09 at 1:19 pm }

Beautiful words and stunning analogies. (((hugs)))

15 Tara { 11.18.09 at 5:02 pm }

I like this post a lot. The analogy is perfect.

16 a { 11.18.09 at 5:41 pm }

I hope it’s comforting for you to see that your daughter shares your love and sense of loss of your grandmother. Why else would she have chosen this particular time to pull out that particular bear? I hope the tears and grief are soon overshadowed by memories of love and laughter.

17 LJ { 11.18.09 at 7:52 pm }

I’m so sorry. The good thing is, that on good days, you’ll be able to talk to the kids about her with total joy and pride, and they’ll hang on your every word.

18 Emmy { 11.18.09 at 8:55 pm }

Your comment about the questions merely bringing the sadness to the surface really hits home for me. It’s interesting for me, because sometimes I can talk about my brother and my dad without a tear, and sometimes a thought makes me break down.

I always have a hard time bringing up difficult topics with people, or asking questions that I worry might bother someone. I don’t want to bring it up at a bad time, but want the person to know that I am happy to listen and talk. It’s a difficult balance.

19 Vee { 11.19.09 at 5:05 am }

*Sigh* Beautiful post.

20 Bea { 11.19.09 at 5:21 am }

Great post, and very true. Wonderful analogy. I hope that sand smooths out a little bit after the talk.


21 ultimatejourney { 11.19.09 at 2:00 pm }

I’m so sorry for your loss.

“the tears are simply a human response to the grief that stirs up like sand at the bottom of the Chesapeake after a fish passes by”

Beautiful. This is exactly how I feel about the tears that well up when I read my daughter the story about her donor sperm conception. She is too little to understand any of it right now, and maybe the tears will be gone before she does, but I just love this quote.

22 loribeth { 11.19.09 at 2:31 pm }

This was a great post. I think the more we talk about the people who are gone & bring up the subject ourselves, the more comfortable others will be in doing the same around us.

Strange, though, that I can talk about my grandmother, no problem, but my stillborn daughter? — that’s a lot harder, for some reason. 🙁

23 Half of a Duo, Raising a Duo { 11.23.09 at 5:28 pm }

This is for ICLW but for you too.

The best part about the memories of grandpa and grandma’s death – 19 years after grandma died and 5 years after my hero, grandpa, died… is sharing memories with my boys and passing along knowledge and wisdom (for instance, grandpa taught me to play the harmonica and I have been teaching the boys).

It’s amazing. The pain will never dissipate, really, Mel but over time it becomes somewhat bearable.

Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving,

24 battynurse { 11.27.09 at 12:20 am }

So true. Beautiful post.

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