Living Grief

6 Oct

Every moment is full.

I woke up this morning at about 8:30am, my Dad was arriving in El Salvador! Yeay! I went downstairs to have breakfast and to my joyous surprise my grandmother was already having breakfast. During this time of loss, the loss of my grandfather, the one who is suffering and grieving the most is my grandmother. She has refused to eat. She doesn’t want to engage at all. She refuses to live.
When I arrived on Tuesday, the usual spunky grandmother was completely non existent. I expected grief, but I had never seen grief in this way. Her whole body, her essense, her heart was mush. Simply like a rag doll. She could barely stand. All she could do was cry. She was like a 5 yr. old. I really wondered if she was going to make it through this. It seemed like nothing any of us could say, reached her in any way at all.

That Tuesday was painful, just to watch her barely live.

Wednesday was a different story. She woke much easier than the day before. She ate breakfast and even engaged my Mom and I in conversation. We visited together and also ate lunch together. She didn’t fight the food, she just ate, like a bird, but ate. The rest of the day she was just beautiful. In comparison to the day before I have to say that she was 100% better. I saw life beginning to seep into her. She made a lot of references to the future, which made me happy 🙂

Last night, she was a spitfire again, her spicy self was coming out. She was doing crazy yoga poses! Goodness! I mean seated poses, nothing standing (I would have gotten her to do some standing poses but at this time it was 11:30 at night!). She proceeded to tell me how she could do yoga, so she started to stretch herself in all sorts of crazy positions. I was flabbergasted. She’s 80! I kid you not, last night I saw her start to come alive again. It made me so happy 🙂 I knew she was coming out of it when she started to make comments about my figure and the way that I look, as that’s one of her favorite topics of conversation. She hadn’t made any comments until then and to be honest, that freaked me out, for that’s the first thing that I hear from her every time I see her. I went to sleep with lightness of heart.

Back to this morning. So, when I saw my grandmother eating by herself my heart just felt good. I thought, ok, we are on the road. Then, she went to her bedroom and once again cried and cried and told me that she just didn’t want to go on. She pleaded loudly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart of Mary, to all the saints that surround her to help her. All I could do was just hold her. She says she has no heart. She is no one anymore without my grandfather. If I were to describe what I saw in her eyes your heart would break. Her soul is aching. Every breath is pained as it’s a recognition that she is alive and that her love, her beloved of 60+ yrs is no longer with her. When she looks out she sees nothing but him. She has a picture of my grandfather on her bedside table and she moves the picture facing her depending on what position she is in. She talks to the picture and kisses the picture. She has full conversations with him. She caresses the glass and wipes it lovingly. There was such a deep bond between them.

As the day has gone on she has started to liven up again. She took a shower and she was just talking to me about her feelings. She says that she can’t believe that he is gone. She says it’s the oddest feeling to know he is no longer around. She was telling me this quite calmly, with some tears but not too many. She told me how much he took care of her, sometimes even too much. How her whole life was based on taking care of him, and as he is no longer here she does not know what to do. She feels lost.

I’ve never seen grief up close. I’ve never seen the human heart so broken, so sore, so hurt. It really is about being able to move with her at every moment. One moment she is steady, conscious, and forward looking and in the next second, she is unconsolable, broken and full of despair. I cannot say anything to her that has not already been said to her. She has 2 incredible sons that dote on her, my mother, who is her steadiness, 2 incredible daughters in law that are truly angels. They adore her. Plus 9 grandchildren who just want to love her and help her in any way possible. All that I feel I can do now is just be near her and listen. To listen to her heart express itself, it yearns to cry out loud. I can only hug her and kiss her and tell her how amazing she is. All I want is for her to recognize how much goodness and life she has around her. The hardest part is to learn to move with her, to align to her, not to my wishes. She deserves to grieve in her own way, to cry, to laugh, to get angry, whatever she wants to do. It’s hard not to want to do what I (we) feel is best. It’s hard to be steady, and strong and ready to be there, ready to support her in any way she requires at that moment, not in the way that we want it to work out. It’s the hardest thing that I’ve done.


click on the picture to see the bliss of the beloved. this picture was taken August 15, 2006.


3 Responses to “Living Grief”

  1. hillary October 6, 2006 at 5:21 am #


    PURNA fullness my dear keep open to the many blessings and perfection in this feeling of imperfection.

    you are in my thoughts, prayers & breath..

    Go Gran-ma love the Yoga at night!

  2. Cindy October 6, 2006 at 1:06 pm #

    How wise you are to know she needs to deal with this in her own way. It sounds like she has such wonderful support from all of her family. My thoughts and prayers are with her and all of you.

  3. Elsie October 6, 2006 at 4:07 pm #

    thank you guys for your thoughts! She keeps surprising us every day. It seems to me she keeps getting stronger. My dad being here is really making a difference. Plus her great grandaughter the mighty Elizabeth Hailey is arriving with her parents(my brother Luis and my sister in law Alesha) tonight. That may just help her even more 🙂

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