Dealing with Death

My grandmother passed away this week. Her name was Lucille, grandmother to 11, mother to 4, and loved by all. She passed away in her sleep at the blessed age of 98, it’s hard to ask for more.

I was closer to her than any of my other grandparents, and so the sobering call at 4:45am felt a bit like an unseen sucker punch. It has been several days and I still feel as though I’m in denial of the whole thing. Just a couple of the many things I will remember about her is that she taught me how to hold my silverware, when I’m traveling or having dinner with someone I’m trying to impress I’ve often remembered to when I was at my grandma’s house in Highland Park, Saint Paul as she taught me to hold my knife and fork properly.

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She also always insisted that I eat my bread crusts, and promised that I’d gain curly hair if I ate my crusts. I’d often protest and say that I wanted straight hair and that curly hair was overrated. She then rebuttal and say, “Well all the men love a girl with curly hair.” At the age of 6 or 8 I wasn’t exactly interested in the attention of boys. Now that she’s gone and I treasure that story, it makes me want to eat my bread crusts in memoriam of her.h6ldr3v

As someone with Aspergers, its hard to know how mourn and grieve properly. Am I just being an overbooked millennial where I don’t have the luxury of time to slow down, and reflect back on what I means to have lost someone that played such a fundamental role in my upbringing? Or do I simply not know how to empathize effectively to where I can engage with those difficult emotions?

It makes me think about a recent article I read in the New York Times about a well-known author that underwent a treatment that would allow him to empathize with others, a key challenge to those of us with ASD. What intrigued me most was that his life experienced such a paradigm shift that it kind of fell apart as a result. It makes me consider how my world might alter if given the opportunity to undergo a similar treatment, however when I reflect on it further, I have to say that I don’t want to change so dramatically that my whole life is different. I’m certainly in favor of getting better and improving as a person, but to take off the lenses through which I have always seen this world; it is just something I am not interested in. I love (most days) that I’m insensitive to social norms and I’m okay dancing in public, or through the Nordstrom Rack.  The T.M.S treatment makes me wonder how different the upcoming funeral would be, its interesting to postulate.

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She’d ride her bike while watching Judge Judy, as she told each of her grandkids to get any agreement they entered in writing.

So as far as things go for my grandmothers funeral, I’ll keep you posted as I attempt to engage in those difficult emotions, and work to empathize during this very grave loss in our family.

Update: The funeral went well, but it had all kinds of exhausting small talk. It was really hard to see her in the casket and later load it into the hearse. I’m not an emotional person by nature but I knew it was healthy to cry despite my pride fighting back those tears. Being with extended family helped to prevent me from becoming a total recluse that week and I was so grateful a number of them flew out for the funeral. God taught me that death makes no sense to those that are without hope for what happens after death. It was a great opportunity to share the faith I have with family members that no-longer believe in much of anything. My key take away is that death is excruciatingly difficult, but having friends, faith, and family to lean on, are what help us cope with a loved one’s passing.

See you later Big Lou!

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Christmas with the family at age 95

Have you had to deal with the death of a loved one? How did or didn’t you cope with that loss? Share in the comments below. 

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