My grandmother passed away. It’s been a surreal experience. I haven’t cried yet and it has been two weeks already. Two weeks since I saw her; reality not really setting in that this was the end. No more sleepovers. No more calling up to ask about this recipe or that. No more games of Phase 10 at the kitchen table next to a crackling woodstove. No more thrift shopping in bright pink lipstick.
Death is an inevitability. Sometimes I see parents debating the best way to deal with a death in the family and it’s interesting to absorb all the sides and opinions. Everyone should do what is best for their families, I suppose. Most of the time the debate centers around what ages are appropriate, what myths or truths to tell, and which bits to leave out. Occasionally I’ll come across a story of an extreme where a child wasn’t notified for years that someone prominent in their lives had passed away, devastating them when they learned the truth. Or that the parents used such heavy euphemisms that the child didn’t understand what was really happening; expecting instead that they would see grandma or daddy or whoever some other time in the near future. It is because of these extreme stories that I do not want to be wishy-washy with Alice about death. My husband and I have decided that, when the time comes and a beloved person or pet dies, we will have an honest talk with her about what that means.
It won’t be easy. There are, apparently, books out there to help. I’m sure if I ask one of the many parenting groups on social media what books worked well for them, I’ll get a plethora of useful responses. There are a bunch of people who have already passed away that Alice is going to hear about and never meet as she grows older. She’s bound to wonder why my husband’s mother isn’t around to do grandmother things, or who Pépé was and why she has a bear named after him. There are Grammies and Bumpies and other lovely, amazing people no longer with us who have influenced our lives greatly and we want to share that love and wisdom with our little Dinosaur. We don’t want them to be forgotten. I don’t want them to be forgotten.
This quote from the late Stephen Hawking sums up my feelings about death nicely. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.” In the end, I know my grandmother was hanging on just to say goodbye to her loved ones. Once she had seen everyone she needed to see, she passed peacefully. She passed with closure and without pain, just the way she wanted. Goodbye, Grammie. We love you. We won’t forget you.
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