Twenty-Four hours with Death (a brief story of loss)

Just the other night, as I was talking to a friend around 11pm, the topic of letting go came up and I said “I say goodbye really easily, if I say it at all”

I’ll be the first one to admit that usually it’s the later.  While goodbyes are easy for me, I have learned that they are not always easy for others, and this usually leads me to not want to partake in them – however disrespectful it may seem.  If I had a dollar for every relationship I have ended by just disappearing, I wouldn’t have had to write that last “how to” article.  The funny part is that I get a lot of flack for this method of letting go (the just letting go method).  People seem to think that I don’t know how it must feel to be in someone’s life one day and not the next.

I beg to differ.  I have been dropped before – and the method is the same.  I allow it to happen, because all people function differently when it comes to loss and letting go.

I asked myself then, when I sat beside my Mother early yesterday morning listening to her take in the news that my Grandad had passed away, how I was going to handle it. Goodbye’s are easy for me in this world, but from one world to another there seems to be a disconnect that I have had no real experience dealing with.

Tears first, like always when I watch another person suffer.  My grief doesn’t butt it’s head until I tell it to – not ever, not now – but I feel others’ through the cracking of their voices and faux strength, and this penetrates me.

But then?  I wash my face.  I put on clothes.  I turn on my favourite song in the car & I drive to work.

I thought about my Grandmother, who married my Grandfather when she was 18.  Who’s name was the last word he said as the heart attack took him at 3:30am. Who, for 70 years, slept beside him. I cried for her loss.

I thought about my father, who was somewhere cycling the California coast without cell phone reception, two days away from San Francisco and unaware that his Father was no longer with us.  I cried for the pain he had yet to feel.

I thought about my Mother, & how she was going to have to tell her husband that he had lost his Dad.  I cried for the heartache she would have to cradle, hearing him hurt.

“You should tell them at work” she said.

I already knew I wouldn’t, but I figured I should tell someone, so without thinking, I told the only person in my life that I’m not related to that has ever met my Grandfather.  He seemed like the appropriate person to contact first.  Someone who knew him, someone who would know what my family is now missing.

I then felt like the words were easier to get out.  So I told someone who would pray for me, my family, for him.  I don’t know what good God does in death, but I somehow imagine it is his forte.

Next to know was someone who I had made immediate plans with that I had to cancel. Because that is what you are supposed to do when a family member dies.

Then I went to work and made the coffee and sat at my desk and answered emails.  No one asked how I was.  No one told me I looked tired or upset.  They just drank the coffee and sat at their desks and answered emails like they do every day.  As they should.

Yet, as they sat there I felt like I was being disrespectful by not telling more people that someone I love dearly passed away.  So I told two other people.  Two people who I really care about, that are in my life on a daily basis, and that I feel are important enough to tell when something in my life isn’t 100%.  Two people that I knew needed to know in order to deal with me appropriately for the time being.

I answered more emails.

Then I told three people that I know love me to the ends of the earth and back.  Three people who would hurt because I hurt and who would want to know.  Three people who would offer me everything I needed, even though I didn’t need anything.  I told those people.

And then I turned my phone off and answered more emails.

Eight people.  Four men, four women.  All eight people who I care about in different ways and who care about me in ways of their own.  Seven of whom may not have even known I had a 95 year old Grandfather to begin with, but that I felt would benefit from knowing he was gone.  Or that I felt I might benefit from knowing he was gone.

The day progressed as I knew it would.  Slowly.  My Dad learned.  I ached.  My eyes sweat as they hid behind my computer screen and later, my glasses.  I told one other – the only one who inquired about my state at all – and I allowed myself to grieve the only way I have ever known how… by writing this, and sorting through emotions one word at a time.

To assume great sadness can be overcome in one day is like that saying about Rome.  But no matter the time it takes, the best we can do in moments of great distress is what we have always done.

& so I let him go into that world as I would anyone in this one.

With great authority,

And without saying Goodbye.

xo & yw


  • So sorry to hear about your loss, Andi. My thoughts are with you, your dad, and the fam. This is a lovely piece of writing. I was able to give the eulogy at my grandma’s funeral a few years ago and I was really glad I did – I bet everyone would love to hear something you’ve written as well if your family is planning to have a service. It’s hard, but, in my opinion, worth it!

    • Thanks Andrea. While it wouldn’t be easy, I wouldn’t say no if someone asked. I appreciate your thoughts 🙂

      • ^ that smiley face was a little more enthusiastic than I was hoping it would be… awkward…

  • Beautiful piece, young lady.

  • Being raised a third culture kid, I know how hard it is to say goodbye. But after awhile you either suck it up or disappear the day it is going to happen. Either way — guilt!

  • You embrace the essence of “being.” A very rare quality. Mizpah to you, my friend, and my condolences.

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