I got that phone call last night that anyone with a sick family member dreads – it was my mom and dad, calling to tell me that my grandmother (“Nannie”), who has been quite ill for several months, had taken a turn for the worse and seemed to be nearing the end of her life. I was upset, but I somehow believed that she would pull through this decline, as she has done in the past. Dreaded phone call #2 came this morning – Nannie passed away sometime during the night. Emotional numbness allowed me to make it through the work day (“keep busy, don’t let the tears start”, is what I kept telling myself). But the second I stepped off the bus this evening and turned the corner onto our street, the floodgates broke and I began to sob. This hurts. This is my first adult experience with the loss of a loved one, and I am frustratingly fumbling through what it means to grieve. I know that the grieving process looks different for everyone, but that is what’s so difficult. I want a formula to follow, steps to go through, milestones to accomplish. I have spent an evening curled up in bed, crying while Shane rubs my back and prays for my family. I have called my dad and cried with him over the phone. I have cried on the couch. I have cried in the shower. And just when I think I’m about cried out, my eyes start burning and the tears start falling again. I am of course saddened by my loss of my grandmother, but what pains me so deeply is the knowledge that my grandfather has had to say good-bye to his wife of over 60 years. Their marriage was a testament to the meaning of devotion. Nannie spent so many years nurturing her husband and children, taking care of the house, preparing meals, being an active and attentive wife, mother, and grandmother. But as she became weaker and was able to do less and less, Grandaddy didn’t hesitate a bit to fill in where he was needed. When Shane and I visited them back in Maryland last fall, I was touched and humbled by how lovingly he prepared her breakfast, helped her to the bathroom, made sure that at any moment she had everything she needed and desired. We woke up one morning to find him baking cookies, rolling snickerdoodle dough in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar. He said that although Nannie rarely had much of an appetite anymore, she did love those cookies, and so he would gladly bake them faster than she could eat them. It was clear that he wasn’t doing these things out of habit or obligation – these were genuine labors of love. Devotion is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

So…what now? Do I cry some more? Do I try to distract myself? I suppose the best I can do is allow myself to feel sadness, but rejoice in the fact that my grandmother lived a life in which she gave and received so much love.


  1. eugene says:

    condolensces to you and your family. this has been a rough week for several at quest who have lost loved ones.

    pastor eugene

  2. Kacie says:

    Hi… I don’t know you, but I have been following your blog for a month or so. I resonate with the deep emotion and sense of disconnection – I lost a good friend this week, and the emotion comes in unsettling waves. I never know what I will do next.

    God go with you as you grieve!

  3. little black journal » Blog Archive » saying good-bye… says:

    […] chance to share together.  This was the first time I had visited Baltimore since my grandmother, Nannie, passed away a couple of years ago, and her absence was very evident.  Family gatherings are not, […]