Over the last few days, I have been coping with the passing of my grandfather. My grandfather had a very unique and special relationship with each of his grandchildren, myself included, so when he died, I wasn't sure how to react. I remember immediately being overcome with an overwhelming sense of numbness and confusion. Trying to process the reality of a loved one's death is mentally exhausting. It's especially hard because you are forced to accept that the vivid memories you have with that person are somehow changed; you can remember the details, but the image is no longer the same.
Leading up to the funeral, you hear clichés like "they're in a better place now" or "everything happens for a reason", and whether you believe that or not, it still doesn't ease the pain of the loss, and it feels as though nothing will. There are, however, a few truths I have learned while trying to cope with my grandfather's death, and the realizations began while I was writing him a letter.
Writing to a deceased loved one can include anything that comes to mind. There is no right or wrong way to say goodbye. For me though, expressing how you feel and the memories you had is not about how many details you can fit onto the paper (unless, of course, it is helpful for you), but rather about what needs to be said to give yourself closure. More often than not, when someone passes away, they have had time to process their relationships with the ones they love, and, because of this, they usually know what it is you want to say. They know what is in your heart. A novel of expressing every previous memory with them isn't always necessary because those memories have not disappeared for them. Those memories, unlike most other things, are forever, and although they aren't tangible reminders, they are still remembered just as easily.
The truth is, we all die. Everyone has heard it. Everyone needs to understand it. This does not mean that there shouldn't be pain associated with death. It just means that we all must live the life we are given while it is still here. I have come to understand that my grandfather would not have wanted me to mourn forever. My grandfather would not have wanted for me to waste my life by putting it on hold because his time had come. Each of us has a time where we must go, but if that time is not today, then it is time to live for those who no longer do. I believe that nothing would have made my grandfather prouder than knowing I was going to allow myself to smile at the good times, and look forward to the special moments to come. Death is something we can't always prepare ourselves for, no matter how hard we try, but it is still important that we take life just as seriously as we take death. Our loved ones live on through their legacies that we carry on with every day that we decide to live our lives. They live on through the many memories we share of them. We know that they can never be forgotten, yet somehow, we still feel scared. We are scared because when we wake up, the house will feel emptier, and yes, that may be true, but what is gone is the skin and bones, and the physical anatomy; their words and imprint on us can never be erased, and that is really what a body embodies.
I will cry for my grandfather, I will miss him every day, but, for his sake, I will persevere. I will take every memory and, rather than wallow in his absence, I will be grateful for everything he has done to ensure that I will live my life to its fullest potential, just as he did. I will make him proud.