Did I remember the dead today?

“So often we try to make other people feel better by minimizing their pain, by telling them that it will get better (which it will) or that there are worse things in the world (which there are). But that’s not what I actually needed. What I actually needed was for someone to tell me that it hurt because it mattered. I have found this very useful to think about over the years, and I find that it is a lot easier and more bearable to be sad when you aren’t constantly berating yourself for being sad.” -John Green

When I posted yesterday, I received a note from a friend commenting on the fact that he thought I would have written about my grandma since we were celebrating those had passed.  I wrote back, expressing my intention to do just that, but that it isn't necessarily easy.  First, it requires me to reflect and sit with the residual pain of heartbreaking loss, and that isn't fun for anyone.  Second, cultures deal with death and loss in completely different ways, and I don't want to offend anyone or pass judgement on the way anyone grieves.  There isn't a right way.

I love that in Guatemala, they (we) take a day to really celebrate life and spend time visiting graves, appreciating family.  In the states, I feel like we handle things differently.  Perhaps some of it has to do with the speed of life and all of the things we (I) like to cram into a single day, but when someone passes, it seems like the mentality is to move on as quickly as possible.  The idea of "she's gone, there's nothing you can do about it," prevails.  And she is, and there wasn't anything I could do then, and there isn't anything I can do now.  And knowing there is nothing that can be done is hard, and sad, and since we can't fix it, we just move on and try to minimize the hurt.  In Guatemala, you are forced at least once a year to think of those you loved, and continue to process what the loss means in everyday life because you see an actual grave, and are forced to revisit those feelings.  It felt good on Friday to walk through a cemetery and consider my own loss and experience.  My Grandma was everything.     

Almost daily, I think of her and imagine what she would make of the madness in Guatemala.  She would hate the traffic like I do, and she would love the crepe bistro downtown.  I smile when I hear the letters "wh" over pronounced like she did, in the words "white" and "what", and the face she would make and the way she would say my name when I mimicked her.  I wished this afternoon, after a tedious day, that we could watch "You've Got Mail," and drink black coffee or red wine, and it all suddenly just felt so unfair.   The thing is, whether we stuff our grief, or celebrate it every year, it is still a process.  We still suffer, we are still thankful for the time we had.  While I don't want to dwell on the past, it felt good to sit with the sadness for minute and recognize that the only reason the pain still exists is because of depth of impact she had on my life and the love we shared.  How lucky I am.

Sky Lohse