Living through the holidays with death and social media

I lost my grandmother over the holidays. She passed away Christmas Eve.

My grandmother lived in Manhattan in a small apartment in the Lower East Side. This past summer, she came to Canada as she often did, a long drive across the border for a 94-year-old woman. My uncle and aunts drove with her to visit my mom in Montreal first, then they came to Toronto to see me and the rest of the family. That was July. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I saw Grandma alive.

I agonized over writing this post. The holidays are supposed to be a good time—a union of family and friends. Fun and happy moments, with nothing worse than a bit of melancholy for another year passed, but what do you do when someone dies at this time? Holidays are not supposed to include death … but death is never convenient. You have to deal with it when it happens.

My grandmother’s death came suddenly. Even at 94, it was unexpected. I thought she could live forever. She had that aura of invincibility. Here she was at her 89th birthday party laughing with my mom.

grandma and mom

As an author who creates fictional stories, I debated whether I should write a post about my grandmother’s passing.

And how could I do it without sounding maudlin? Especially at this time of year.

You see, each December since starting this blog, I’ve written a holiday message to end the year. The messages have been about reflection, happiness, and looking ahead. I’ve often included humor as part of the festive season. I wanted this post to be something along the same lines, but I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to write it that way.

I just couldn’t.

I had to reflect on the life of a woman who meant a great deal to me, and it would be dishonest to write a holiday message without acknowledging the loss. Another year is coming to an end, but an important life has already ended. My grandmother deserved her time with me here.

grandma and me

With Grandma in Toronto 2013

Those who know me well understand I’m a private person. I rarely make announcements about my personal life. I share private matters one-on-one using more traditional means—telephone and email. My declarations via public forums such as Twitter and Facebook are mainly for my writing news. As much as I like social media, I consider it somewhat of a mirage.

Are people always as happy as they appear in their pictures?

The answer is obviously “no.”

With this post, my main purpose is to honor my grandmother, to let people know how lovely she was. What she lacked in physical stature, she made up for in toughness of mind and spirit. She was fiercely independent and got her way without ever raising her voice. Her quiet strength spoke to the many qualities I admired about her, particularly her thoughtfulness and grace. She made the world a better place, and she was a cool woman in every sense of the word.

I also want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and comforting words of condolences. I’m extremely grateful for the kindness of friends, both virtual and in real life. Though I feel a sad void right now, I know how fortunate I am to have had my grandmother in my life for so long. Many of my friends no longer have parents, let alone grandparents. The reality is Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.

As she was my last surviving grandparent, her passing brings me closer to my own mortality, but I am not afraid.

I never saw Grandma afraid of anything.

* * *

Some final words for the readers of this blog …

I so appreciate the personal notes, comments, follows, shares, likes, emails, and messages you’ve sent over the years. With your kindness, you’ve given me the best gift for the holidays during a difficult time.

Thank you.

As I close my blog for another year, I am grateful that social media has connected us. We are here together, and that is something worth celebrating.

Wishing love, health, and happiness for you and your families. May 2016 be unforgettable in the best of ways,

~ eden ♥

 

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55 Comments

Filed under Revelations & Humor

55 responses to “Living through the holidays with death and social media

  1. Lance

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother right before American thanksgiving 2005 and it seems like yesterday and that holiday hasn’t meant to same to me.

    Hugs and prayers and best wishes to you and your family, Ace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello lovely, thank you for your words. Loss is never easy, especially when it’s someone we really care about. Like you say, it affects time and place associated with that person’s passing. It’s been 10 years for you, and yet the memory of your grandmother is still strong around American thanksgiving. I hope time will heal … for both of us.

      Best to you and all the wonderful women in your life, Lance. Always great to see you. xox
      eden

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a lovely post–especially as I know how very private you are. My thoughts and love are with you for the holiday.

    xoxo

    r

    Liked by 1 person

    • RB, you’re the man, the voice of reason, and one of the strongest people I know. Thank you for dropping by and big LOVE to you and Tina. Sending you stories and good, healing vibes for 2016. xox
      eden

      Like

  3. Karin

    Beautiful post, words, thoughts. It also comes at a time I can so relate, as you know. The changing of a structure system is a hard concept to explain, express, but tough none the less.
    My thoughts are with you, let’s get together soon! Love you. Karin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karin, I know, and I realize you’ve had your share of change over the last couple of years. It’s tough to move up that ladder to head a family, especially one as close as yours. Would love to see you anytime. Sending hugs for 2016. May the year be wonderful for you and those you love. xox
      eden

      Like

  4. Jeanne

    So sorry for your loss. You have written her tribute wonderfully. I look forward to more blog posts in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Her spirit lives within you, dear Eden. I’m in Houston now helping my mom through a tough medical problem. She is 87 and I wonder how I will be able to deal with my self when her times comes. I try hard to soak up the good, pleasant, smiling times I spend with her.

    I can see you’ve done that with your beautiful Grandmother. Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dannie ❤
      You are a kind and soft-hearted man, but you are also a man of action. I know you will do what needs to be done for your mom. Let's hope she lives to be 100! In the meantime, as you say, enjoy the wonderful moments with her.
      Big hugs, sweetheart xox Sending you my best for the holidays and 2016,
      eden

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m really sorry for your loss. The loved ones we have lost live with us through the time we spent together and how they influenced us, just as you wrote “Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eden, what a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. What strikes me most is how much your grandmother left you, because you embody the qualities that you most admire in her – independence, quiet strength, thoughtfulness, grace. That is you 100%, Eden. I am sorry for your loss – I know your grandmother’s spirit will live on through the enormous contribution and generosity of her granddaughter. Love, Sue

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I could see her quiet strength in you, her kindness and love of beauty too.

    She will live on in you, and others she touched.

    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That was a beautiful post and a lovely tribute to your grandmother.

    I am so very sorry for your loss.
    ((hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I lost one grandmother when I was a baby and I never had a good relationship with the other one. But I have witnessed how much her grandmother meant to my daughter and was so thankful they both had that. I know your grandmother cherished you as much as you did her, Eden. You are lovely, gracious, and strong, just like she was. Those are her gifts to you.

    Much love, lady. xoxoxoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Netta, I never knew my dad’s mom, but I’ve known my grandma (mom’s mom) since my late teens. And though she didn’t live in the same country, I saw her often throughout the years. It is a unique relationship, different from parents — no judgment, just love. That’s pretty special of any relationship.

      Thank you for being who you are, xox
      eden

      Like

  11. My deepest condolences, eden. She sounds like an amazing woman, and you are a credit to her cool. Wishing you and your family peace and space to both mourn and celebrate a beautiful life’s passing.

    xo, Cam

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you Cam, beautiful words from a beautiful woman. I truly appreciate it. Wishing you the best life has to offer in 2016. xox
    eden

    Like

  13. You pay tribute to her so beautifully, and it sounds like hers was a life well lived. I’m so sorry for your loss, Eden.

    The holidays are a tough time when one’s had a loss- and given that date, Christmas will never feel the same again for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi William, thank you for your thoughts. My grandmother did have a full life, and that is something to celebrate. I think loss around any time of year is hard, and next year this time, I will have a toast in her memory. Christmas won’t feel the same, but it won’t be a bad one because of this. I hope you and those you love have a wonderful holiday and may 2016 be everything you wish for. Much love and thank you for all the support in the past years. xox eden

      Like

  14. Brenda Perlin

    Thank you for sharing such an intimate subject. I could read in between the lines how difficult this was for you but you showed your feelings with a real life force and with grace. There is nothing more dear than love. A relationship as deep as this deserves your attention and I am glad I didn’t let it pass me by. You are fortunate to have such a closeness. That will stay with you forever. I hope your grandmother is looking down and smiling. I am sure she would prefer to be with you right now. My belief is she accomplished all she was meant to in this life. Her job was done. I can tell she was very proud of the woman you have become.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jeanette H

    I am so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy at any time but I know it’s especially tough when it happens during a holiday or any significant cherished date. Last year I lost my last surviving grandmother the week before US Thanksgiving and the funeral was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so I truly can empathize with you. Grandmothers, especially when we’re close to them are truly our special angels. I hope you’re able to take comfort in knowing that she loved you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jeanette Haynes

    Hi Eden, I just submitted a comment and my email address somehow is listed in the comment. Can you please delete the email address? Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Email address deleted Jeannette, and thank you so much for sharing your story with me too. Grandparents are truly special people and I consider myself really fortunate. I had a grandfather who was a strong role model for me early in my life until my teens, and my grandmother throughout my adult life. I appreciate your comment and hope you enjoy the rest of the year and best of everything in 2016 xox
      eden

      Like

  17. Oh eden,

    So so sorry to hear about this. I know how you feel. I lost my own last grandma when she was 92 and I was thousands of miles away. I still miss her!

    Your pictures of your grandma are beautiful and you’ve written a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman! We are lucky to have descended from such wonderful women.

    Yesterday I found out that my teacher in America died and she was 90. Yes, I agree, some people have such spirit and vitality that we thought that they would never die, but death is a certainly for all of us, so I offer my sincere condolences to you, you mum and the rest of your family.

    Thanks for your lovely Christmas card, the first that arrived and only one from another country! I really appreciate your friendship! Without social media, I would not have met you which would have been a great pity! I promise to keep in touch in 2016!

    Have a great new year, despite your loss, and may 2016 bring you great success in your pursuits and fulfilment in every way!

    Love,

    Junying

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Junying, so great to see you and I’m happy you received the card :).
      Yes, the certainty in life is that we all die one day. It’s a reality that I’m willing to accept. The hard part is when someone else leaves. The ones left behind need to go on, no matter what.

      I’m sorry to hear about your teacher too. 😦

      I miss you and hope we have more opportunity to connect in the coming year. Best of 2016 to you and John. xox
      eden

      Like

  18. As expected, Eden, you’ve handled a sad event with strength, grace, dignity and hope. You are as Mac Davis sang, One Helluva Woman. Have a fantastic 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m so sorry for your loss, Eden. The death of a loved one is never easy. I think your Gran would have enjoyed this blog post as a lovely tribute to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. So sorry for you, Eden, for the loss of your grandmother. Over here, we have been close to the loss of many this year, both aged and very young, three in the last week or so, and there is something particularly sad about losing someone at Christmas time, when we are hoping for together time with family.
    It is rubbish!

    It strikes me that there is so much to be learned from loss: the value of life, of love, of friendship and the futility of fretting over so many insignificant things, keeping up with the Jones’ next door and personal differences.

    May I offer you my most heartfelt wishes of love and hope for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. John, thank you. I know your family has had multiple losses this year, and it’s been heartbreaking for you and those you love. I hope you are all healing, slowly but surely. Life can end so unexpectedly, and I could not agree more that fretting over small things is never worth the effort. At the end of the day, kindness and understanding trumps all the material stuff.

    Be well, my good man, and I wish for you and your family, a much brighter year ahead.
    xox
    eden

    Like

  22. So sorry to hear about this .Nice post and a beautiful tribute to your grandmother .Wish you all the best of everything in 2016 !

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Aww…my sweet, sweet Eden! You sharing your personal story is a beautiful message in itself.

    I have a saying, and it’s when my southern accent inevitably comes out: “It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.” Because, it’s not. And that’s okay. How would we ever be able to fully understand how incredible life is without loss? These are the some of the most beautiful moments, when we unabashedly celebrate someone special to us, when we open our hearts in unexpected ways.

    Sending you much love from Portland.

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. Britt,
    Much love back to you from Manhattan. I steel myself for my grandmother’s funeral today. It’s a cold one. I’m up before dawn catching up on emails, and your message made me smile. Thank you ❤
    eden

    Like

  26. Doreen Cox/Dody

    Thank you for bringing your grandmother to life for me, Eden, for sharing how poignantly she influenced you throughout her incredible life. She’s a person I’d have enjoyed knowing. I read your post a few weeks ago, but waited until now to comment, wanting to gather my thoughts, my emotions. This past holiday has been a trying one for me in various ways (a sister’s health), and I was missing my mother so intensely. Rereading your post today brought me some needed fresh air – I am grateful. Best wishes for a grand 2016; no doubt, it will be an interesting year.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Dody, you’re a gem. I really appreciate your comment. I know how much your mother meant to you, and given that, the importance of maternal relationships in general. I feel sad for my mother and her loss. Life goes on, as we just had the funeral. Slowly, life goes on.

    Like

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  29. Thank you for sharing your lovely words about your grandmother, Eden. What a beautiful woman she was and it sounds like she lived a full, interesting and loved life. My grandmother passed away at 94 as well a few years ago and I think of her very often, in the little things I do every day. Wishing you and your family well.
    Letizia

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Seeing pictures of your grandma made me miss mine, they looked similar especially in traditional Chinese clothing (or semi-traditional QiPao top) and RIP and many condolences to you. She died over 10 years ago but she helped raised and also, whatever she lacked in stature she made up for with her wit and personality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Everyday Voices for sharing about your grandmother too. It truly is a unique relationship we have with grandparents, and it’s a sad realization that the bond is gone, at least for now in the physical world.

      I know your memories of your grandma are forever in your heart, even 10 years later, and will be for many more,

      eden

      Liked by 1 person

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  32. Dennis Michaels

    I thought I was entering Julie C. Gilbert’s blog
    I immediatly said a prayer for Eden and her Grandmother!
    It is a moving story Im not soon to forget!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dennis, thanks so much for reading and leaving a heartfelt comment. I know Julie and she’s a terrific writer, so it’s an honour for me that you ended up at my blog even for a short stint 🙂 eden

      Like

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