It has been a season of bittersweet endings and new beginnings for me and my siblings. As you know, we lost both parents in a three-month time span. One of the endings was closing their home. For the past 25 years, my parents lived in an apartment on Brookhaven Golf Course with a beautiful view. The apartment was full of things that they treasured. Many of those things were hard to part with during the estate sale. As we packed up their remaining things, I looked outside and realized that, most likely I won’t be there again. It’s hard to describe the strange feeling of being in that empty apartment where there was once so much love and caring along with the pain. While I truly rejoice that my parents are in heaven, I know that I will always miss them.
Little things make me pause like seeing the Mother’s and Father’s Day cards at the store. And Mom’s birthday is coming up. Even grocery shopping feels odd as I no longer must shop for them. Everyone tells me that those feelings are normal and will crop up often in my new life without them. Also, I have much more time on my hands now and need to decide how to fill it.
It is a season of healing for my siblings and me. We are all adjusting to our “new normal.” We had a wonderful Easter celebration with my siblings. My husband and I stayed and talked after the big group left. It was very relaxing and fun, as in the past we would have been concerned about getting Mom and Dad home early.
Our estate sale was a big undertaking, and we all worked together on it. Little things would turn up like a box of my mother’s blessed medals in a little box we almost sold. My daughter, Laura, found a leather travelling bag of Dad’s. Since they shared a love of travelling, she felt that the bag was meant for her. And my son, Ryan, kept a collection of vases from Mom and some furniture from Dad. It was very touching to watch the grandchildren go through their grandparents’ things with such reverence.
Now we are preparing for their burial in Ohio. It was their desire to be buried next to Martha, Mary’s twin, who died at 18 months of age. It will be quite a celebration with my Michigan cousins coming. We had so much fun with these cousins growing up. A special treat for me is having Jane, my best childhood friend from our time in Ohio, come with her mother and several sisters. I have so many fond memories of Jane and her wonderful family. Her parents and mine were the best of friends, and both homes were full of fun.
I know it will be emotional for me to see Martha’s grave again. I was in college the last time we travelled to Ohio. I knelt on her grave and sobbed. I was seven years old when she died, and I remember her well. She was a calm, sweet baby, and I loved to play with her. While she has been my guardian angel throughout my life, I still grieve for her. It will be fitting, but difficult to bury my parents right next to her.
I looked up the stages of grieving, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The research says that they are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live without our loved ones. These tools help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Now, I consider myself to be somewhere between depression and acceptance. It helps tremendously that they lived long lives, and both were ready to be with the Lord.
What Has Helped:
- Our faith in eternal life.
- Working together as a family.
- Videos of our family made by our wonderful cousins.
Ecclesiastes 3: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of my parents’ lives. They were each beautiful examples of caregiving. When Mom started to decline five years ago, my father stepped in and truly willed her to live. Those last five years were very difficult for him, but he never wavered in his care for her. And my sweet mom thanked him for each and every thing he did for her. We rejoice that they are reunited with their daughter and are enjoying their new eternal life. Help us to honor the memories we had as a family, and trust that we will see them again in heaven.