Thoughts on loss

posted in: Genealogy | 3

My experience with grieving is fortunately quite limited. I have lost all three of my grandparents since moving to British Columbia in 1999; all of them having lived full, long lives, with the final loss of my paternal grandmother on Friday.

Grandma and I in 2004 at my grandfather’s burial.

It happened on our wedding anniversary, 11 years, and the eve of my being responsible for an event at work – no time to take abrupt leave of absence or let down my guard. After that, I had only part of Thanksgiving Sunday to try to gather some meaningful words to share at the funeral, via my brother. That done, I turned my sights to a frenzy of home improvement projects – reupholstering a chair, completing reclaimed wood shelves and arranging things on them, and launching into fall cleaning.

Chair I reupholstered, on which I learned a thing or two about sewing and zippers.

I commented that I didn’t know if this was appropriate behaviour for someone who just lost a loved one. My husband said that we all deal with grief in different ways. Now that I have a lot of the busyness out of my system, the more sentimental thoughts are starting to be processed. Not melodramatic, but the kind of important stock-taking thoughts that need to be thought at a time like this.

When Grandpa passed away seven years ago, I was able to fly home for the funeral. Read my brothers’ words. Absorb the scenes of the farm and rural Ontarian community. As mentioned in an earlier post, a lot of what I absorbed came out through my artwork since that time. This time, my brother read my words and I have been quite distant from the actual funeral proceedings.

View from my Grandparents house in 2004, just after Grandpa’s funeral.

My thoughts have mainly been on the farm – partly because of my current painting, an aerial abstract landscape of the farm – and partly because I can’t help but be connected to the land where generations of my family have lived. I was thinking about who lived in my grandparents’ house before they did, and it was Grandpa’s grandparents. I did a little research into who they were and of course got engrossed in the journals and letters I have. Discovered that my great-great grandfather was raised by an aunt and uncle (brother/sister), kind of like Anne of Green Gables.

Fields, October 2004, colours of loss.

So apparently I deal with grief by creating art, making things, organizing things, and keeping very busy. I’m hoping the next few days will be spent at a slower pace, letting this new existence sink in, having laid a generation to rest.

Related posts: Grandpa‘s story; A Letter from 1924; For Grandma; In Memory of Grandma

3 Responses

  1. Thinking of you, Nan, as we go to my grandpa’s memorial tomorrow. It’s also my 3rd of 4 grandparents to have passed away in the last 10 years or so, with me usually traveling to the funeral, except for this time.
    I think with grandparents it’s sort of on our radar- that they are entering their final stages of life. At the same time, it’s always sad when they go, especially when you think about your own kid’s grandparents being your parents, and that someday that loss will be much closer and harder to process.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful words Heather. I noticed you also lost your grandfather, as did another friend, all within a close period of time. Thinking of you too (and how we need to get together!).

  2. This is what we need – an insight to make eveoyrne think

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