On The Road: Dealing With Losing a Loved One

There’s that moment during your travels sometimes when you get a dreaded phone call. Someone you love is seriously ill and you are not going to make it back in time to say goodbye. I took a longer hiatus from my blog and from writing than I wanted to because someone I loved very dearly; my grandmother passed away suddenly this month. I hadn’t seen her in nearly 9 months but I was going to when I went home in a few weeks time, but now, it is too late. I wasn’t there with her when she passed away and nor could I make it to the funeral.

On the day of the funeral my entire family- immediate and extended- was there except me.It made me wonder if I am the sort of person who is always “missing” from things because of the life I’ve chosen. My life at the moment involves seeing new places, adventures, experiences, love and friendship but it doesn’t involve family. Family means roots and I’ve been uprooted in a sense for nearly 5 years when I first left home. I’ve been missing for weddings, holidays, family photos, reunions and now I’ve been missing when one of my favourite people in the whole world died.

Cry: I was all by myself at home in Perth, WA when I found out. I am glad for that because I have no control over my volume when I cry. I sobbed, sniffed and howled for nearly an hour before I was able to get through to anyone back home. I thought I’d managed to get a hold of myself but when I heard my father’s voice on the other end, I lost all my pseudo composure. I cried and I didn’t hold back. I thought of her and I mourned, all by myself till I couldn’t cry anymore.

Do Something They Loved: I still find it hard to talk about my Nani in past tense but she loved to sing. While I’m no singer, I took out my little ukulele and sang my heart out. Doing something she loved helped me calm down, engaged my mind and made me feel a lot more connected to her.

Speak to Family: I spoke not just to my parents but also to my extended family as much as I could. Some of them, I hadn’t spoken to in years. Everyone has something different to say and that’s what helps; some tried to make me laugh, some cried, some spoke about everything else under the sun but my grandma and it all helped me feel more involved in the goings-on back home.

Surround Yourself with Friends/People: While I am glad I was initially by myself I am also glad I had friends visiting the week I found out. I was taking them around Perth, we were cooking meals together, talking and that just made me think of other things. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a hostel surrounded by new friends, in another country or just on the road with strangers, it just helps to be around people. Personally, I’ve known my friends for a few years and at one point we all lived in London together. They’re amongst the nicest people I’ve met since I left home and dealing with a massive sense of loss was much easier because of them.

Take a Day to Celebrate Their Life: While I am not a religious person, my grandmother was. I decided to go to Church and while I didn’t really pray to god, I just talked to my grandmother instead. I was able to say to her all the things that were knotted up deep in the pit of my stomach. Going to a place of quiet- especially one that she respected and loved- to think of her and to focus my thoughts solely on her made me feel a whole lot better. Especially since that same day that I went to Church, there was a memorial service for her back home. I think any place of meaning and one that’s relatively quiet, like a beach, a park or up on a hill would help just as much. That night I also cooked a dinner in her memory and had a few friends over. If you don’t have the resources to cook a full meal wherever you are then getting a couple of drinks and toasting to the memory of the person you love can be quite therapeutic.

Send Something to the Memorial Service: I wrote a few lines for my Grandmother and emailed it in time for the memorial service. One of my cousins read it out for me and it helped in two ways: I was able to write out my thoughts and share it with my family and two, I felt like I was present at the service and had in a little way, contributed to it. I also asked my father to record the service for me, whether I’ll have the courage to watch it when I am back home is another matter.

Dealing with death is never easy and least of all when you’re miles away from anything familiar. My Nani was buried the very next day and the funeral was a few hours after I found out. There was no way I could have made it back in time but that does not mean I loved her lesser than anyone else present there. I found it hard to get back into a routine after her death and this is my first bit of writing since. In the beginning, I couldn’t even bring myself to look at her photos let alone put them up in my room but now I have. When I head home and don’t see her in her usual spot, I imagine it’ll be like dealing with the loss all over again. I’m trying to prepare myself for that. At least, this time, I’ll be around family.

For Nani, my beloved grandmother. You’ll always be missed

8 comments

  1. Aw man, this post resonated with me so much. I was fortunate, in a way, because we knew it was coming for a few months. Not that it makes it easy, but yeah.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s been a few weeks now, but I’m still processing. This helps πŸ™‚ Your Nani sounds like a wonderful lady.

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    • Yeah, she was cool! And being the oldest grandkid, I got a whole wave of her love and affection. Sorry about your grandpa, though, couldn’t have been easy regardless. Hugs!

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    • Thanks for taking out the time to read the post and for joining #TravevlIST Alison! For me one of the downsides of travels has been this – missing out on important moments all the time – births, deaths, weddings, landmark birthdays…but at the same time I really do appreciate and value the life I’ve chosen so travelling on it is πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is true that the downside to travel (and the lifestyle choices we make) is that it robs us of other experiences that everybody else takes for granted. I love how you found expression for your grief in spite of the distance though…

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