Where to begin…

I’ve felt a little lost the last few weeks. I just got back from this whirlwind trip back to Germany. I am behind on blogging, reading blogs and everything else. I am tired, I have a cold, but after all the precious time that I was able to take off to be with my family, I had to go back to work yesterday. Maybe it’s a good thing to just dive back into the routine, to not even have time to think and process everything that happened the last few weeks. I think that is going to take me a few more weeks to really understand and internalize that my great-aunt is gone for good.

You know, it’s such a weird place to be in, when you live so far away from you family and don’t see any of them very often. I literally felt like I had to go home to ‘see’ with my own eyes that Ina is not there anymore. Otherwise it would have been hard to accept and understand why she won’t call again. I already miss hearing her voice over her phone and catching up once a week.

Ina’s funeral was on Wednesday. I was a little bit scared because I knew it would be emotional. I had flashbacks to my granddad’s funeral three years ago. The only thing that was somewhat comforting was the fact that my granddad’s funeral had overall been a – very sad, yes, but – positive experience, if you can even call a funeral that.

My great-aunt’s funeral was much smaller than my granddad’s. She had already outlived many of her friends and some were too fragile to attend. They send some really sweet and heart-felt sympathy cards instead. It was wonderful to learn that she was so loved and appreciated by not just our family, but also her friends.

The memorial service was really touching and personal. It was held by the same pastor that married J and I almost 7 years ago and who had known my great-aunt for a long time. I loved that he included her nickname in the sermon, that he didn’t just use the name that nobody in my family knew her by. They had put up the picture that I posted in my previous post in front of the altar, next to her urn. It felt strange to look at this picture of her, the twinkle in her eyes and her mischievous smile, and to think that her remains where now resting in the urn next to it. On the other hand, I really loved the fact that Ina had a will that said that she wanted to be cremated. The thought of burying a body in a coffin never really appealed to me much, it seemed ‘worse’ to me than burying an urn.

We gathered for brunch after the burial service and although it might seem like an odd thing to do, I enjoyed being able to talk with my family about Ina, reminisce about good old times and exchange personal anecdotes. She will always be remembered with lots of love and admiration. It was also nice to meet some of the people that held her dear and were close to her. I knew and also felt that she’s going to be sorely missed by a lot of people, not just me. In a way, it provides some sort of comfort knowing that we’re all together in our grief.

The odd thing is that even though Ina passed away, life goes on. You always think that when somebody close to you dies, the world will stop spinning. At least for a while. And still, we go to bed every night and get up  the next day. Sure, we might be on auto-pilot while our brains try to compute the new reality, but life is still happening.
I also noticed that grief comes in waves. There are days when I am accepting, when I am just thankful to be able to be with my family, when I am thankful to have had this wonderful person in my life. And then, at other times, a memory will hit you out of left field and completely overwhelm you with a nasty, sobbing cry. Preferably when you least expect it.

It’s a process.

I wanted to thank all of you who have send messages of love and support during this sad time. It really means the world to me that you care so much about me and my family. I am hoping to catch up on emails, Twitter, blogs and personal notes soon.

  1. I’m so glad you were able to go back to Germany and be with your family during this time. It had to have been a difficult, yet comforting time. Thinking of you!

  2. My dear San. It is so difficult to lose a loved on. The one hope I can give you is that in time the memories that right now bring a sob, with instead, bring a warm smile.
    I’m so happy you got home, where you could share the grief with the people who love you and Ina best!

  3. Ah, dear San, I know how hard this must have been and still is. Losing a loved one is so hard. Letting go is so hard. I am happy for you that you were able to be there with your family to say good-bye to your great-aunt. And how wonderful that you were able to spend the holiday with her!
    Hugs xxx

  4. Sending you warm thoughts. I can only imagine how you must feel, as I have never lost a close relative. I’m glad you were able to go home, and that you got to see Ina again just earlier in January. I hope your heart will feel a little less heavy with each passing day.

  5. I’m glad you were able to go over to Germany for the the funeral. I have no idea how you are feeling, as I have never lost someone close to me. Thinking of you and hoping that you will feel better soon.

  6. I love this post, though I dislike that reason for it. I feel the disconnect from my family being across the country in much the same way you must, and everything you feel I need to bookmark because when my grandparents pass away I KNOW my insides will be an echo of the heartfelt emotions you have conveyed in this post. Lots of hugs and prayers, lady. <3

  7. Welcome back. You have been on my mind as I know how tough these losses are. I lost my grandpa 4 years ago so I can really relate to how you are feeling. It’s tough to lose such an essential person and it takes a long time for the sting of the loss to go away, so definitely give yourself time to process all of your emotions.

    Sending love and hugs!!!

  8. I’m glad you were able to make it back to say goodbye! It’s not weird at all to sit around and remember the person who just lost, it’s something everyone should do IMO.

  9. aw sending you so much love and hugs san, i know it’s definitely a process and slowly and steady you’ll get back to normal a little bit.

  10. I have kept you in my thoughts these past few weeks, lady, I want to know that I’ve been sending you hugs across the Universe, so if you felt any squeezing, it might have me, squeezing you tight. <3

  11. I think it’s pretty remarkable that you were able to return to Germany to be with your family for her funeral. There is something special, comforting, about grieving with those you love, rather than doing so from thousands of miles away. By the way you wrote about Ina, it’s clear she lived a full life. She was lucky to have you in it – and clearly, you benefited from having her in your life. Grief is definitely a process and your wounds will heal over time.

  12. I am so glad that you were able to go back to Germany to be with your family during this sad time. I am sure it meant to so much to them to have you there and I know how important it was for your to be there. It sounds like it was such a beautiful memorial service and exchanging stories about loved ones like that is always such a healing and peaceful thing.

    Continuing to think of you and send you wishes for peace.

  13. My dear, I am so sorry to read about your loss. But you write about her so beautifully and so full of love, that I’m sure that also helps with the grieving process.

    Much love, I’m thinking of you xx

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved one is always difficult. And you’re right, time just continues and life goes on and eventually things will stop spinning. But the way you have preserved her memory for yourself and written about Ina, has been beautiful and I hope that you continue to cherish that and hold those memories close. Being able to be with your family, to grieve together, and just be in the same presence together, is truly special and I’m sure helped ease the pain. I’ve lost relatives, so if you need a friend, I’m always here.

    Sending (virtual) hugs and love your way.

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