Disconnecting, reconnecting

I live far from all of my extended family. As a result, I had lost all touch with most of them and felt very disconnected from them all. After over a decade, I flew halfway around the world just to see them. After what I learned a couple days ago, I’m really glad I was able to go and reconnect with as many of them as possible.

You see, one of the many amazing uncles my mother has/had just passed away. Now this may not sound so horrific to some of you. “Your mother’s uncle, whoop-dee-doo. Who cares?” you might think. Well, it is a little different for me. This uncle was like another grandfather for me in some ways. He was always kind to me and my sister, his children were always welcoming, and he always doted on my mother.

The last time I saw him, a few weeks ago, he explained to me all his life’s regrets, how much he hated being bed ridden due to various health complications, and how useless and burdensome he felt at this point in his life. I didn’t know what to say. How do you comfort a man who speaks with such conviction about his feelings of inadequacy? How do you comfort someone you once saw masterfully ruling the kitchen, cooking dinners for a hundred people, roaring at everyone who didn’t get out of his way fast enough as he lays in bed, barely able to climb out to walk to dinner?

He said there was nothing left for him to do anymore. It seemed everything on his bucket list was checked off. He even said this would be the last time we would meet. I didn’t want to believe it even though a nagging feeling told me otherwise. Just a couple of weeks later, he gave up his frail grip on this life and passed onto the next. May his soul rest in peace.

During this time, I was contacted out of the blue by a couple of folks I hadn’t had the pleasure of talking to in many years. If I’m to be honest, I didn’t think I would ever hear from said people again. One of them, I wish hadn’t reached out to me – I don’t want a renewed relationship with that person. The other, I was extremely happy to hear from…but don’t know if I’ll be hearing from that person again. The holiday blues hit me hard this year and I can’t help but think that these instances didn’t help. I hope I will be able to reconnect but I don’t think it’s easy to recreate a relationship that was once destroyed.

The fact is that my grieving and loss have become intertwined. I feel like a hole I generally ignore has ripped open again inside me. Grieving for losses was never truly my style. I tend to cut my losses and move forward as much as possible. It is only when old memories return to haunt me that I have to accept the grief I feel. Thoughts cause feelings, so I have learned to think these thoughts only a little at a time, to let myself feel what I feel and then let it go instead of spiraling into deep depression.

It is my hope and prayer that any of you going through loss and grieving those losses do so in a manner that helps you grow into more than you were, not into something hollow and hopeless. Be strong my friends, for this, too, shall pass.

Until next time, Ciao. Happy holidays.

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