Today, my grandmother died.

I suspect this is a post not many will want to read. This is not a happy post to show off adventures or rock formations or friends I’ve met in my travels. This is a post to vent my loneliness. Because, while we all lose loves in our lives, there is another twinge of pain that strikes when you are so far away.

I lost my grandmother Thursday morning, Colorado time. My alarm was just sounding for the second time in New Zealand, Friday morning.

“She passed away this morning. Don’t fret, she’s not suffering anymore.”

It was the text that woke me.

Losing someone is never easy. And for some reasons I am thankful I was not around for the final days my grandmother laid in bed. My father was there the whole time. He heard her cry out, her voice fade to a whisper. He watched her eyes close, her hand slowly reach out. He was alone. He was right there with her, surrounded by people the entire time, and yet he was alone.

Death is a lonely experience. We all face it alone and our loved ones grieve alone.

And yet, I felt a whole new sense of isolation this morning.

I avoided work. I needed a day. The bed was too comfortable, and I turned over and went back to sleep. But even my unconsciousness couldn’t protect my heart.

I dreamt of telling someone she died and the pain stuck with me until I opened my eyes, where for a brief second I had forgotten. But as my eyes adjusted to the yellow tinted curtains and I heard birds chirping outside, I remembered.

I remembered she loved to watch the birds. She’d sit on the back porch in her robe, which had always fallen over her shoulder, and admire them as they cautiously grabbed a seed from the feeder box before swiftly flying away. She also loved the squirrels. They were a bit more playful and would chatter at the birds to get out of the way. The squirrels were energized; they would run full speed, 360 degrees around branches before lapping back around for another sunflower seed.

We used to watch them in silence.

I remembered the email I sent her signed “Lady Bug”, the nickname she gave me. She will never read it. It will remain unread in her inbox.

I remembered this blog. I will update it and she won’t ever see it. I will never get one of her loving comments innocently misunderstanding how one comments on an online public website. Her comments made me laugh. She once left an essay that I hid because no one wants to read a three page comment. But I do.

I remembered I am on the other side of the world. I cannot feel the warmth of my father’s hug or see the smirk on my brother’s face. I cannot touch my grandmother’s belongings to feel a false sense of her lingering existence. I cannot sit in silence around the dinner table with my family as we sulk and occasionally share a funny memory of that stubborn woman.

It is all happening, but I am not present.

I cracked open a beer at 11am, walked around the house with glazed eyes. I did not see the sun. I remained in bed within the darkness of my room, letting the computer screen light up my eyes and distract my noisy mind.

And while I am lucky to have my father on the phone to laugh and cry with, there is no cure for this loneliness.

But it’s okay. And it is okay for two reasons.

One: my father will be here in a matter of days. We will have each other to grieve with while sharing the wonders of New Zealand.

Two: the last words my grandmother whispered to me will always ring in my ear.

“I love you. Remember.”



6 thoughts on “Today, my grandmother died.

  1. I am not so close with my family. I often feel guilt at the fact that I don’t think I will really be all that sad when either of my parents die; paradoxically, I will cry crocodile tears for the movie “stepmom.”

    I relate a hell of a lot more with my books than with my “loved ones,” and it sometimes strikes me that authors like Tolkien and Hemingway and Margaret Mitchell (and many other less literary/more nerdy folks) will never know the impact and importance of their works; they will never read the vast majority of books I have read, the epics and dedications springing directly from their contributions. .. Hell, they’ve never even seen star wars. their expressions are left behind for us all to learn from, to improve upon, to cherish, to loath (Shakespeare), to debate; so much a part of the conversation without saying another word. But I am here, and my life is better for their efforts. It sounds to me that your grandmother was like that for you.

    Your story of raw emotion through the day made me sad and happy. Sad to hear that someone a friend loved has left. But happy that you can still remember fondness and joy at having known them. That’s how you keep them alive.


  2. I know you may not agree but I know god will comfort and bless you..It is always a sad time when a loved one passes on..Her pain is gone and she has no more suffering..The only pain now is the pain of those left behind..Remembering our loved ones and the memories we have is our picture book.of times gone by..please know that grandma and grandpa love you and am so proud of you..You are a strong young lady with the world at your you …g pa..


  3. I think you captured this sense of process and grieving so perfectly. I’ve felt those exact things: the dreams, the half second moment of forgetting it happened, seeking their presence among their belongings, and the loneliness.
    I think all those things remind us of the capacity we have to love, as heartbreaking as they feel.
    I’m sorry for your loss and I’m thinking of you Brit!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can share in your sorrow. Although it is many many years since my marvelous Grandmother died, I remember the disenfranchised grief I experienced being so far away from the place she died – in New Zealand – and I was in Australia and still young with no money to travel. Grandmothers are special and wonderful and I’m glad you have those good memories to recall. I’ve just written about being a grandmother on my own blog because I’m now one myself and hope to be just like my own grandmother was to me. Enjoy my beautiful country.


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