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.