Feeling: drained from the last rites
So we suffered a loss in the family the last week. My grandfather, or Kong Kong as he was known affectionately by all the grandkids, passed peacefully at a grand old age of 95.
It’s a bit weird having to explain such an event to a baby or a toddler though. In our grief, we forget that to a child, it seems as though a person has just gone to sleep and won’t wake up again. We’re glad that it wasn’t some traumatic death though, that would be even harder to explain and much more painful and vivid for us in our memories when we have to recount the turn of events for a little mind to understand.
I probably need to throw out a caveat here though, that today’s blog post didn’t going to be some soppy and emotional recounting.. despite the fact that I am sad about my grandfather having passed on, I’m no stranger to death. And due to my faith, I know exactly where he is now that his body holds no life.
Most people would feel a big hole of loss where this person once was in their lives, and while I do have that hole, perhaps in his last few years, I was slowly reading myself for the day that we would lose him so that it wouldn’t hurt so much when it did.
Now that my grandfather is gone though, I feel mostly relief and perhaps a bit of wistfulness if anything. But I’m not sad very much.
The weight of the loss hit me on the morning after for about 5 minutes. But after a good cry, I went back to being of a kind that it was much better for him to be gone than to be here on Earth.
I worry that I’m cold and unfeeling, but truthfully, I know how difficult this last days were with Alzheimer’s and pneumonia – getting treatment for breathing issues while being in a confused mental state could not have been easy for a frail old man at all.
That and the fact that my dad passed away when I was 6 and i never felt much sorrow about his passing either.
That’s not to say that I didn’t love my dad because of course I did. But my aunt told me that as he came out of the operating theatre in a coma that nobody knew whether he would ever wake up from, she asked me whether my brother and I wanted my dad to stay on earth and try to recover or whether we would have him go and live in heaven..
You know you watch all those shows when the person who is hooked up to all the tubes is just hanging on for the sake of their family members and all that and when their loved ones say they can go, they have their last and truly, go…
Yeah, it probably was something like that. It sounds so dramatic, but I assure you, to a 6 year old, the logic that it would be painful and there would be significant suffering if that person stayed on earth versus ascending to Paradise to be in heaven… Well the choice was only logical right?
I cling to that logic now. Despite how it might feel to be without that person on earth now, it is the knowledge that my family or friends are in an infinitely better place now that keeps me from mourning.
I remember a rather poignant story about how when this man’s mum passed away, he didn’t find the need to sit vigil by her body because simply put – all that he needed to say, he said when she was around to hear it.
And there is so much truth in that. That you need to make the most out of the time that we are living. For the living continues to live, but the dead have moved on to another place..
And I wish that for my kids when my time comes to go in hopefully a long, long, long, long time to come. That they won’t be too upset when I’m no longer around that they can’t go back to living their lives in my absence.
The hubs and I were talking about funerals – how we didn’t want a huge affair. Just a quiet do where people can come and sit and reminisce. No tears and no fuss. I was even talking about not even getting me an expensive coffin. In fact, just put me on a boat pyre and set me on fire towards the sunset… Haha
At the end of the day, there are so many traditions and customs to observe when a person passes on, but do you really need to be all that flamboyant about things?
It seems like the whole funeral affair ends up being more a matter of face – that we are inclined to put on a show to others so that the extent of our love can be quantified by the magnitude of our physical grief. How much of our pain are we willing to display to others so that they know we are hurting inside?
Again, I worried I was being cold. That by not outwardly crying or showing sadness during the whole sending off period that I would be seen as an unfilial grandchild or some unfeeling wretch.
And there’s more I could say about this, but I suppose it trivialises the whole death aspect if we make it all about how petty the living are when the dead have gone.
What I really want to say about things is that I hope my children never have to worry about this. That when they are faced with a death in the family or of a friend, whether it’ll be our pet dog, or goldfish, or a cousin or even someone closer, that my kids will know just how they need to behave in their grief that justifies noone else but themselves.
As long as they are true to themselves – that they have left things resolved, that they don’t regret what may have happened while I was alive, I think that I could pass on to the afterlife without too much ado.
After all, the dead have moved on, but the living still have lives to live. Far be it for the ones who have passed on to hold the living to some standard when all they should be doing is enjoying the fruits of the hereafter…
So, it’s up to us as the parents to make sure that that’s how we teach our kids as they grow up – to make the most of the time that they have I’m the world and to treasure the people around them while they can.
It’ll be a while yet before the bub truly understands any of that but it’s never too early to think about getting on board with the idea 🙂
To infinity and beyond,