When we lose someone in our family, it often doesn’t matter how close you are to that person, how often you see them, where they live. What matters is the deep roots of family and the shared experiences and love.
This past Friday, I lost an uncle. A healthy, vibrant man, full of life and energy. He exercised daily and had retired the year before. A shocking and powerful aneurism and stroke left him without neural activity immediately.
His wife and children were able to get to him to say goodbye. But nothing can prepare you for a loss that sudden and shocking in someone still so young, 61.
It’s funny how there are no words to express a loss, or sympathy. People offer condolences and support, food, chores, an ear to listen and a should to cry on. And these are all wonderful things. It brings us all closer and it helps us remember we are not going through our mourning alone. No, a platter of food cannot staunch the heartache, but the effort means that someone is thinking about us and that we don’t have to worry about that one extra detail. Flowers may be overpriced and wilt quickly, but they are a reminder that we are loved and that people are thinking of us.
I find people’s reactions to loss, their own and other people’s, strange, as some people drop everything and take over details, some shut down, some need to surround themselves with loved ones to talk and cry and reminisce, and some want to hide in their beds alone and mourn.
There’s not such thing as the “right” way to handle grief. But I did have the uplifting experience this weekend of witnessing a family buoyed up by each other and the support of love and family across the country (and world), sending love, stories, photos, food, flowers, and millions of prayers. My family is huge, my mother is one of 6, there are 20 grandchildren, and my grandparents are in their 80s and going strong. And this is the first loss we’ve experienced within our close family.
Everyone descended upon my grandparents’ home, aunts and uncles, cousins, significant others, friends. We simply sat and chatted and cried and joked. We were together. We couldn’t do anything, as our uncle’s family lives out of town, but just to be together and to feel the outpouring of support and love was a beautiful gift.
I have no real message today or funny pictures to post. I just wanted to express my gratitude for my family and to remind everyone out there to share their love and support freely. We never know how we long we have on this earth, but remember, don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Aka – tell everyone you love them. Don’t worry about the petty things. Be well, my friends.