One Breath

You know how life can all of a sudden get tough sometimes? And then, unexpectedly, it can get really really tough? I had one of those unexpected and really really tough weeks this past week. It has caused me to reflect a lot about a few things and I wanted to share them with you.

This week, I lost someone close to my heart. My beautiful gran passed away. She passed away in my dads arms with her close friends and family members around her. The atmosphere was full of love and it was a gentle moment. I’ve been told that she woke up that morning talking about going back home, seeing her husband again and singing with the angels.

The hardest part though, has been witnessing the broken hearts of my family members, especially my aunt, uncle and father, her children. It has been an overwhelmingly sad journey the last few months when my grans health rapidly deteriorated. I will admit, I felt like I couldn’t deal with it, it hit so close to home that it has taken a long time for the facts to sink in. It has taken a long time for me to accept reality. In all honesty, it mostly feels like a daze, especially when the whole family is all together. It feels like we are constantly waiting for another one of us to arrive and to complete the group. What I’m trying to say is that we can notice the absence of my gran. A reminder that a piece of us is missing.

I guess I should explain that I haven’t experienced a lot of loss in my life. Well, I haven’t experienced a lot of loss in terms of people passing away. This has been the first death in my family that I am old enough to feel and experience the effects of. It has honestly helped me to think about all of the people out there who have tragically and abruptly lost loved ones, not really having a chance to say goodbye. I cannot imagine what that must be like.

All I know so far is that death, loss and grief are hard, complicated phenomenons to understand. It is altogether a difficult experience. And I find myself asking myself questions like, do we ever really work through it? Or do we end up learning how to live with it? Maybe it’s a mixture of both? And maybe it’s not our place to try and figure it out.

As a Counsellor, I’ve been questioning what I think and believe about life and death, the purpose and meaning behind certain things since these are conversations that can often come up in counselling. It has caused me to ask myself questions like can there be an answer or explanation to everything we experience? And at what point does acceptance and understanding kick in? Is life about choosing to let go, in all things, much like we have to do in our last moments? And why would that be such a big lesson for us to learn?

It’s true when they say that coping with loss and grief is about coming to terms with a new world – a new way of living. I think that’s the most helpful way I can understand what we go through. I think that the ability within us to overcome difficult experiences, how we can feel intense joy and intense pain, sometimes all at once and live to tell the tale, is a true testament to the strength of human nature. Our innate resilience. And yes, that strength and resilience can be found within all of us. It is truly wonderful and empowering.

I have to say, the most comforting thing during this time has been my faith. As a follower and believer of God, I get to celebrate the idea and experience of death, for it doesn’t signify an end, but a beginning. The beginning of something better. It means I don’t have to only be sad and full of sorrow, I get to also be filled with joy. I have lost someone special to me, yet I know that my grans forever, right next to her Creator, her Father, has only just begun (John 6:47). It is definitely a bitter-sweet moment.

Even though all of these questions fill my mind and have caused me to partake in a lot of self-reflection lately, I still get to imagine my gran with massive white angel wings, surrounded by familiar faces from her life on earth, dancing and singing with Jesus and the angels in a beautiful garden filled with roses. The smell of freshly baked biscuits and lavender will forever remind me of her. And while my heart recognises the absence of her presence and it hurts, I can rest in knowing that I will see and get to be with her again. For that, I owe to Jesus and I am so very thankful.

This whole experience, which I believe I am blessed to only have experienced for the first time at the age of 23, has ultimately reminded me of just how short our life on earth can be. In the bible, it is described as vapour (Isaiah 40: 6-7), mist (James 4:14), one single breath or a shadow (Psalm 144:4). Our time on earth is so short in the face of eternity that it is still a little hard for me to wrap my head around.

I also think it’s interesting how losing someone and the grief we feel can stand as a sudden strong reminder to not to take our lives for granted and to always make the most of our time left. But why do we wait for these reminders? Why is it not a thought that crosses our minds every day? Why do we only start thinking about this kind of stuff when old age begins to set in? I believe it shouldn’t be that way.

So if anything, I wish for myself and for you to ensure that we live every day in true happiness while remembering that every second is precious. I hope that we choose ourselves, our dreams, our wants and our needs. I hope that we put it all first. I hope that we live intentionally, choosing to be present in every moment, letting go of unnecessarily heavy things, forgiving, taking care and loving ourselves every chance we get. I hope that we set our hearts on giving love another go, taking risks, saying no to things that make us feel uncomfortable and choosing to never give our power away or to never give up. I hope that we are able to search for milk and honey in every moment, to continuously learn and grow and do things that make our souls feel alive. I hope we dance, sing, write and create. I hope we have many chances to truly express ourselves. I hope we fill our tummies with good food, appreciate our bodies when we look in the mirror, surround ourselves with genuine people, make good memories, capture every moment, swim in the sea, hike up tall mountains and ultimately spend our time wisely. I hope that we discover and fulfill our purposes, be unapologetically and authentically ourselves and impact those around us positively. I hope we choose ourselves and our lives every day and I hope that we don’t settle for anything less than spectacular.

If I can leave with saying one last thing today, I want to remind my readers to not take time for granted. Live so fully and so passionately that you have no regrets. Say “I love you” as many times as possible, check in with people that you care about as often as you can and do things that genuinely make you feel good. Every day is not guaranteed and it is a blessing to be able to experience life on earth, even in all its raw and realness.

Gran, this post was a tribute to you. I love you and I miss you. I thank God for the moments we were able to spend together and the memories I have to look back on. I know that you’re back home now and I’ll get to see you soon. Until we meet again lovely lady.

Thank you to everyone for the love and support the past couple of days. It has meant so much to my family and I. Your love and kindness has truly been appreciated.

Thank you for reading xx

For more information on grief and loss and how to cope, head over to one of my previous blog posts titled “Grief and Loss Part 1” and “Grief and Loss Part 2”.

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