I am at that age where those we looked up to as children, those who have helped care for us are starting to pass away.
This past year, I have experienced 6 deaths within my extended family. Some of those were incredibly close and I have seen, more than ever, the importance of family. The hardest one was what kicked everything off when my other halfs step-dad passed away. His mom had been with him for over 30 years and we had to help pick up the pieces after. We just recently passed the 1 year mark on July 27th.
This past weekend a Memorial Trap Club Shoot took place in his honor. It was a beautiful thing to see the entire family come together to shoot in his honor. His first love was our beloved Lorna and his family. His 2nd love was trap shooting and the club where it all took place!
Thankfully, none of the deaths have been related to Covid-19.
One thing I’ve learned in the past year is how grief is an extremely personal process. There are highs. There are lows, and everyone experiences things differently.
My other half also lost one of his dear aunts to Parkinsons Disease this past year.
And then things began to hit my side of the family: one of my Uncles passed away. He was only 57. It was the first sibling of my moms to pass, and unfortunately, he was far too young.
The one good thing that comes from death is that it definitely brings people together. It was my first trip out to Ohio in over 18 years – a trip that was long overdue!
The one that hit the hardest was when my father reached out to me to tell me about my Dear Aunt Kathy. This was the one that was unexpected. That night I cried my eyes out. The guilt of not seeing her in years completely washed over me and that night, all I could think about were the memories I had of her.
She was an aunt I was incredibly close to, as a child, but as an adult, I drifted apart from. But I knew I had to get home for her service.
At her service it was great seeing my cousins after years apart, but in that moment, I knew their lives changed due to their Mother, my Aunt, being their rock.
And then my step-dad recently lost his mother to Breast Cancer – his mom was very much like a grandmother to me. But more than anything – it was about his Dad and helping him navigate the days after.
In moments like these, in this past year, I’ve realized, it’s not about you, but giving those closest to the loved one the strength to get through the days ahead. It is not the moment to be selfish, judge others or make assumptions, but to help lift one another up.
Tell stories, make each other laugh or provide a meal. Help clean up around the house, fix something that may be broken, but more than anything, show compassion.
In those moments it’ll be the kind gestures that will help move them forward, but in the end, let them grieve. Let them cry. Let them get mad. Let them shout. But do not judge.
I guess I really just needed to write all this out. In my dad to day job I’m often providing service to others, but the older I get I’m finding less and less people are checking in, asking how I am.
In the hard times of life is when I grow silent, but may be holding the most pain and grief inside. It’s still hard to talk about. How does someone even begin to explain going thru 6 deaths in a year – losing some very key people to family dynamics? I don’t have an answer to that. I’ve grown pretty numb at this point.
But one thing I know is the kindness others have shown or laughs they’ve provided me along the way. Thats what’s helping me get thru.