My Grandmother died last Friday.
It's been a bizarre week dealing with this reality. It was not entirely unexpected; she had congestive heart failure and has been deteriorating throughout the past year. She had also been struggling with dementia the past few years, not knowing exactly who I was for almost a year now. I saw her a few Wednesdays ago and when I next saw her, one week later, she had lost almost twenty pounds. I knew as I left her then, kissing her on the forehead, that this would be the last time I saw her. She passed away in her sleep early Friday morning.
These times are difficult for anyone but I then transition into "pastor mode." I knew I would be conducting the funeral, so I begin to assess what needs to be said. This is always a challenge, as it becomes my duty not only to summarize the life of a person who means much to me, but to do her memory justice to the rest of my family as well. This is why it's difficult to perform the funeral of a family member— you have to create some space to ensure that you can do your job. Fortunately, the memorial ceremony is Sunday, almost eight days after her passing, which has given me time to get this accomplished.
I suppose this is why I've been in a funk this week (duh). While I was extremely productive last week, I got very little accomplished since Friday. In addition to regular tasks, I've been putting together the slide presentation of my grandmother's life, as well as trying to craft the right words for the ceremony. Not arduous work, obviously, but my mind is working overtime. I'm so immersed in the situation that I don't deal with it.
My grandmother lived in the same house as us most of my childhood. She remarried when I was ten and it was two years later that my mom's parents moved in with us. So throughout the formative years of my life I always had grandparents around. I never knew how much of a blessing this was. They ate with us daily, took us places, and were practically second parents to us. Sure, it made the relationship a little more complicated than your average grandparent/grandchild relationship (we were never spoiled by our grandparents because they always saw us) but it is an experience I would never give back.
And, finally, I'm facing the fact that all of my grandparents are now gone. While many reading this might already have this situation (with some friends my age already having lost their parents) this is new to me. My mind wonders towards future losses and what the future holds.
All in all, it's a fascinating intersection of life, death, my psyche, and my vocation. I'm mourning, but I also need to lead people out of mourning to celebration of the life that was lived.
And the final blessing her is that my grandmother made the most of her existence, making my job much easier. So while she helped me throughout my life, she's still helping me when she's gone.