On the eve of my father-in-law’s funeral, I feel compelled to write about grief and share what has been happening in my family this week. Last Sunday night, my husband lost his father and my children lost their grandfather. I have been married for twenty-five years and have only ever seen my husband wipe a quick tear hastily away during a sad movie. We have not endured many deaths in the family, especially not a parent. This is a new experience for us and we have no reference for how to respond or conduct ourselves. I feel blessed to have some training in grief counseling – I know what to say and more importantly what not to say.
The funeral is going to be very hard. I know the sight of my husband and two adult sons carrying the coffin will be heart wrenching. It is difficult to prepare for loss. Loss comes with emptiness and a finality nothing prepares us for. I still hear his voice and imagine him working in the garden while my mother-in-law screeches for him to come in and have his cup of tea. It’s those little things I will miss the most. My father-in-law had a great sense of humour and an intense love of family. I am blessed the very best qualities he possessed will live on in my husband. He was active and vibrant, enjoying the simple life a quiet fishing village in Iluka offered him.
On the gratitude side I have seen more kisses, hugs and smiles amongst my family members than I can ever remember. There have been tears, long stares of ‘knowing’ and tender embraces. My sons have been reminded of the importance of family and particularly the role of a father. They have renewed and recharged their love for my husband in a way only awareness of the inevitable can bring forth. They have bonded together and felt enormous gratitude for each other. We have all celebrated our own individual lives after being faced with the intimate details of death.
It is times like this which remind me how important it is to cherish each and every day we are blessed to be alive. My father-in-law had a few regrets on his final day. He had not lived long enough to see a grandchild marry or present him with a great grandchild. He had a particular soft spot for our son Lincoln, the youngest of his grandchildren and he ached over the realization he would not see him grow into an adult. The morning after his passing, my husband explained to Lincoln his grandfather was no longer with us. With the innocence of a child, Lincoln hugged his father with every bit of love in his heart, looked up into his eyes and said “Don’t worry Daddy. I am still alive”.
My conclusion is this, cherish your life knowing inevitably it will end. Time is precious.
The people who matter most will be with you and grieving for you in the end. Nurture those relationships. They are the ones that count.
The people who drop everything to be by your side at your time of need are the same people you invested in. Relationships are an opportunity to give and receive. The more you give, the more you receive.
When your ‘time comes’ and you are faced with the end, you will undoubtedly evaluate how you lived your life. You will prepare for your departure and look into the eyes of the people you love.
Take the time to ensure you have no regrets – at least none you have the power to change today.
*The Balance family sends our heartfelt thoughts and wishes to Noni and her loved ones during this difficult time.