Monday, December 16, 2013

A Death in the Family and an Emotional Hangover...

I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of a text message on my phone.  Groggy and without my glasses, I picked it up and checked to see who it was from.  It was fuzzy but I could see that the message was from my Dad.  I had just gotten a new phone number and sent it to him the day before, he was letting me know that he got my new number and that his Dad had passed away earlier that morning.  I sat there in shock, "No, he can't be dead.  No."

My grandfather had Alzheimer's and, according to my Dad, he hadn't eaten or drank anything in 6 weeks.  We knew it was coming as my sister and I had just had a conversation about it a month or so ago.  We talked about how important him and my grandma and my aunt were to us growing up, about how time had gone by and we lost touch, about wanting them to know how we felt before we got that phone call.  And now it was too late.

Still in a daze I went upstairs and outside, trying to let the news sink in.  The tears started to roll down my face and I sobbed for the loss of this man who was such an important part of my childhood.  I do believe that birthing back into spirit is a beautiful process because you are home and free of all the human constraints.  He was no longer suffering and I know that my Uncle Roddy who died at 16 years young, and my sister Carrie, who died at 8 years young, were there to greet him.  I wasn't so much sad that he had died as I was sad because I would miss him.  I was also sad because I had lost touch and hadn't seen him in 10 years.  The blanket of Regret washed over me as I wished I had told him how much he meant to me.

Childhood was not a good time for me.  I lived in a chaotic house full of lack, anger, violence, among other things.  It is what it is.  But when we would go to my grandparents house and/or my aunt's house, we felt safe, we felt wanted.  There was a sense of freedom at those houses for us, not freedom to do whatever we wanted to do but freedom to just be the kids we were.  Freedom to laugh as much and as loudly as we wanted, freedom to ask for seconds, freedom to hang out with the adults as the whole family would sit around the large kitchen table after dinner and talk and drink coffee.  They always made it a point to call and ask for us to visit around the holidays.  They loved us and we knew it.  I loved and still love them deeply, but do they know it.

In his passing I was reminded of the importance of telling people how you feel, before it's too late.  While I know this and I've even re-posted things on Facebook that talk about it, I failed to actually do it.   As I mentioned, my sister and I had just talked about it, and I still failed to act on it.  I know that he knows now, I just wish I would have told him while he was still here.  But I don't wish to stay in that place of regret and, as the day went on and the tears fell, I came to realize that I chose to be inspired by it.  I choose to honor his memory and his passing by working toward telling the people in my life who have had a profound impact on me, how very much I appreciate them.  It's important.  You never know how much time you or anyone else has.

At the end of the day and after many many tears, I read a post about someone having a bad day due to my grandfather's passing.  It made me realize that I did not have a bad day.  I had an emotionally draining day but it wasn't at all bad.  I loved and was loved by this amazing man who made my childhood a little easier to bear and who was now back in his true form of spirit and no longer suffering, how was that bad?  But what I realized was that I see people who have lost loved ones use their passing as an excuse not to let joy in, as an excuse not to live their lives.  I refuse to use the passing of my grandpa Frank when I was pregnant, my sister who died too young at 8 years old, my Grampa Wahl who just passed, or anyone else who might go in the future, as an excuse not to live my life.  Yes I'm sad, yes I will miss them, and yes it hurts.  But does it truly honor someones memory to use them as an excuse not to go on with life?  When they look on from the realm of Spirit will they feel happy and honored that you are being dragged through life by their memory instead of fully living it?  I don't think so.  If anything I would rather find a way to be inspired by their lives and their passings.

I woke up Sunday morning with an icky feeling head and a headache.  Emotions ran high on Saturday and a lot of emotional energy was released resulting in, what I call, an Emotional Hangover.  In spite of that I felt a sense of peace about his passing, about the roller coaster of emotions that had visited me, and of ways I hope to be inspired by his transition.  There's still the funeral which, if I can go, will be very emotional as I will be seeing family I have not seen in many years and will be visiting the house where memories of him are and he is not.  I can already feel the emotion on its way.

Goodbye Grampa Wahl, may you rest in peace and know that you helped to give my childhood some happy, safe, and joyous memories.  Thank you for teaching me how to tie flies, for making me laugh as you popped out your dentures and made funny faces.  I'll miss you "ole dog," and I'll love you always.

May you be blessed with love and light,


  1. Wow Tia,
    You have brought tears to my eyes in a wonderful way. It made me think of my Dad who we lost 10 years ago, and how he "pops in" now and again and I become beautifully aware of how those who we love change who we are forever and so in truth, they stay with us forever.
    It is however terribly difficult to recognize this when grief takes over. I truly applaud your courage and wisdom. I'm glad that our paths crossed, and thank you for that.

    1. Thank you Jenny for stopping by and reading this post. I'm honored that you were touched by it. I do agree with you, when a person is smack dab in the middle of grief it is difficult. I have always told my son that when it's my time I want a celebration, I do not want people crying at a funeral. But when my grandfather passed it reminded me that tears and sadness are a necessary part of the grieving process and it must be moved through to grow into the celebration. Thank you again.