finding peace // my story of loss

Loss is something that is inevitable. It cannot be skipped. You can’t choose to never have to deal with loss. It is a part of life and it is going to happen.

Loss can occur when you least expect it, it’s an unwanted surprise that changes our whole world. Loss can occur when you do expect it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

You can’t escape it.

It is a huge part of life that we all have to deal with at some point.

Everyone grieves differently, everyone accepts it differently. There’s no right way. There is no wrong way. We just do what we need to do, to deal with it.

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On February 11, 2014, I lost one of the most important people in my life. My grandmother went to sleep on Monday night and didn’t wake up on Tuesday morning. She peacefully passed away at home without suffering or fighting for her life for very long.

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During the days leading up to that day, I was strong. On that Tuesday, I was strong. In the days following that day, I was strong. I had to be. My family needed a rock and I was that person.

I had the pleasure of seeing my grandmother on Monday night. I held her hand and laughed with her.

I shared a moment with my brother that night, in the pitch black, in the middle of the road.

I talked with my dad and helped him help my mom.

I laughed with my mom and kept her strong.

I loved my family.

I still do.

I feel as though, when I suffer a loss, I go in to auto-pilot mode and I am the do-er. I may have only been 20 at the time but I made the phone calls. I talked to distant family members. I talked to the pastor. Yes, my parents and grandfather did too, but I made a lot of the initial calls.

I broke the bad news. I needed to be the rock. I needed to help. I had to be strong.

I don’t really remember it sinking in that she was gone until after the funeral. I chose to speak at her funeral on behalf of my family and I laughed while I talked. I remember saying funny memories that the two of us had and hearing 200+ people laugh along with me and that is something I’ll cherish forever.

She would’ve wanted us all laughing.

Remembering our memories with her combined with laughter, instead of mourning her loss with sadness and tears. And that’s exactly what I did.

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Sometimes a loss can be a blessing in disguise.

She was no longer suffering. She didn’t have to live for months on end, in pain, exhausted, starving, and uncomfortable.

She was no longer unable to do the things she loved. I remember her saying “if I can no longer knit and play bridge, I’m no longer living”.

She wasn’t able to be the grandmother that we all knew and loved. She was a very hands-on grandmother.

I remember going for a week long sleepover after my brother was born and I was her dance teacher. We did the apron dance, the broom dance, the baby dance, you name it, she was down for it.

She could no longer play cards with us. She could no longer cut out newspaper articles for me. She could no longer meet me at our favourite restaurant for a breakfast date. I couldn’t convince ( not that it took much convincing ) her to take me out for lunch or supper, coffee, tea. She could no longer attend church. She couldn’t play the piano. She could no longer buy me gluten free treats. She could no longer rock in her rocking chair. She could no longer go to the Mooseheads games. She could no longer watch hockey on one tv, baseball on the other, keep score of baseball on her notepad ( in case the official scorekeepers of the MLB were wrong ) and knit a sweater or blanket for someone in need at the same time.

She wasn’t her anymore. But she was only not her for a very short amount of time.

On Tuesday, February 11, she was finally at peace. 

I know she was playing cards, dancing and singing, drinking tea and eating her favourite treats, probably cursing out the Maple Leafs for losing again and holding out hope for the Blue Jays to final pull off a semi-successful season that year.

Maybe she was even blasting down the highway in a convertible yellow Mustang, with her white-blonde hair blowing in the wind.

All I know is that she was finally laughing again, and that brought me peace.

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I’m not going to sit here and say that every day is a day where I feel at peace.

Some days I resent God for taking her from me. Some days I hate the doctors who told her it was the stomach flu and when that ‘stomach flu’ wasn’t better in 2 weeks, they decided to do further tests and found the cancer. Some days I hate that I wasn’t able to be strong around her. Some days I get annoyed by my parents because they are still sad. Some days I am angry at her for leaving us.

Some days I cry. Some days I curse. Some days I want to run away.

I wish she could have been at my university graduation last year. I wish she could see me embarking on the journey to become a teacher now. I wish she could let me beat her in cards again. I wish she could teach me how to keep score in baseball. I wish she could take me out for breakfast again. I wish I could sit and laugh, gossip and cry, talk and laugh some more with her.

But then I remember the times I did get to share with her.

And in that, I find peace again.

And these peaceful moments far outnumber the sad, angry ones.

And for that, I am grateful.

I am forever grateful for the memories. For her unconditional love. For her constant support. For her courage. For her strength. For the endless time she devoted to caring for me.

She was the only one who has ever told me I was a good driver. She was the only one who was ever down for a pizza buffet at lunch, any day of the week. She was the only one who would sit with me for hours while I wrote stories and encouraged me to keep going. She was the only one who would force me to play my piano scales over and over again to the point where my fingers ached. She was the only one who would cut out newspaper articles about math and give them to me ( even though I suck at math ). She was the only one who would surprise me with gluten free treats every time she went to the grocery store. She was the only one who would send us cards for every ocassion… St. Patrick’s Day? Card. Easter? Card. Grandchildren Day? Card. Valentine’s Day? Card. She was the only one who, every single year up until 2014, bought me the Christmas stuffed animal with the year stitched in it from Sears.

Everything she did was because she always thought about me, about her grandchildren. Everything she did was because she loved me, because she loved us.

She wanted to know everything… everything from how my school marks were to how my friends were doing to how my relationship was.

& she truly cared about every word I said.

That’s what was special about her. That’s what helps me be happy even through the hard times… the love that radiated from her, that I still feel to this day.

Two years later and there still isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t wish she was here, that I don’t miss her, want to call her and tell her something, pick up my phone and want to call her to ask her something, or tell her that the math she so desperately wanted me to master reallyyyy doesn’t apply to anything in my life. But none of these feelings take away my peace.

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I am constantly comforted by signs and feelings that she is still here, just in a different form.

The night of her passing, I awoke, suddenly, around 2 am. I thought to myself, in a panic, “she’s gone ” and then a feeling of peace overcame my panic and I thought “but it’s going to be alright”. Five hours later, we got the call. I remember telling my mom about my 2 am wakeup. A couple hours after that, we got word that she had died around 2 am… She was gone, but it was going to be alright. I was sure of it now and my mom was so thankful that I had some how been connected to her in her time of passing.

There was one night I was feeling sad and I happened to look out the back window of my house ( I don’t think in 12 years of living in this house I have EVER looked out this window, except for this one particular night ) and I saw a shooting star. The first shooting star I have ever seen lit up the sky and I instantly forgot my sadness.

There was one day I happened to look in the newspaper and in it was an article about math. I rarely look at the newspaper and here it was, a math article. I cut it out and kept it. I’ve never read it, but I still have it.

Today, I turned on ‘Hallelujah’, her favourite song & the final song they sang at her funeral, and I looked up and there was a rainbow.

I find peace in the comfort that the signs bring me. Nobody in my family has felt anything like this, yet, but I’m sure they will some day. My mom has always said we shared a special connection, and I really truly believe it.

She doesn’t want me to be sad.

She wants me to be happy and laugh and be thankful for her.

I find peace in that and for that, I am so grateful.

I love you, G… xxxooo

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