Grief comes in all shapes and sizes and is different for each of us. It is even different for us each time we lose a loved one.
I was in Tallinn, Estonia visiting family and friends a few weeks ago when my grandfather (Papa George) died. He had been hospitalized just short of a week when we left town. We had delayed packing and were uncertain about going on our trip, but Papa George had a really good day that Monday and encouraged us to go. He said, “Have a good time. Enjoy it. Say ‘Hi’ to Kristjan for me.” We had a nice visit with him and left for St. Louis to fly to Estonia.
On our first morning in Estonia, we received the news that Papa George had died. It was 2 o’clock in the morning in Quincy and my parents and uncle were up visiting, so I learned that he died peacefully in the hospital. His big heart finally gave out.
Funeral plans were made for after our trip so we could be present; however, my absence at the time of his death, even though he encouraged us to go, left me feeling guilty. I was not there for him or with him. I was not there for my family. I was not there to take care of arrangements…
I know that there is nothing I could have done that my family did not do for him. I knew that he wanted me to go on this trip and have fun, but the guilt was still there in the background. I was thinking about not really saying goodbye, not being there with him one last time, all of these things weighed me down.
I personally, felt my load lighten when I light a candle and said a prayer for Papa George at St. Issac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg Russia. I did not say “goodbye” to him, but I did say “farewell, see you soon” and I will see him again one day.
My grief remains, but my guilt about not being with him is gone.