Loss During a Pandemic: If There Were Only One More Day

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This pandemic stole three months from us. Three long months without getting the opportunity to see my grandpa. It turns out that I was a day late to see him. My grandpa passed away June 19. I was going to surprise him on June 20. It is hard not to play what could have been. Most of my dreams are of the visit that we were supposed to have.  

What Could Have Been

When I close my eyes and imagine how our visit was supposed to go, it goes something like this:

I surprise him with a call telling him that I am in town with my son, his only great grandson. I tell him we are picking him up for dinner. We hug outside of his apartment since COVID has changed how we can visit. I bring him over to my brother’s home—the house that he had lived in with my grandmother for over 60 years. He finally gets to see my son and a smile appears on his face. He was so lonely for those three months, so our visit is making up for lost time. 

We go and get Grand Haven’s famous Fricano’s pizza. I get to hear him laugh as he watches my son eat pizza. I let him feel my baby bump so he can get to know his future great grandson. We talk about my job, how big my son is getting, and how crazy this world has gotten. I bring him home before it gets too dark out and we hug again. 

It would have been a perfect day.

Stolen Moments, Lasting Memories

COVID may have stolen a lot of things from me, but it cannot steal the memories that I have of my grandfather.

When I was little, I would refer to him as my Grand Haven Grandpa because my other grandparents lived in Grand Rapids. As I grew older, he was just “grandpa.” He was the grandpa who taught me how to enjoy life by running into Lake Michigan fully clothed. He taught me to be proud of my heritage—he joked that there were the Dutch and those who wished they were Dutch. He taught me what it means to truly love your spouse by caring for my grandmother no matter how hard it got for him.  

I remember all the trips to Miss Lisa’s for soft serve ice cream. All the Coast Guard festivals that we went to. I remember the Christmas shopping that we would do with my grandparents, my cousins, my brother, and I. I also remember how he would pull my dad aside to plan a surprise January birthday dinner for my mom. My mom always knew, but since my grandfather’s birthday was the day after Christmas, he always wanted to make sure that she was not forgotten after the holidays.

Remembering to Be Grateful

Even though I was not able to see him, we did speak on the phone. I was able to tell him that I am pregnant with another boy. He joked with me that he thought I was for sure going to have a girl because I ate so many mashed potatoes at the beginning of my pregnancy. Whenever I called him, I would say that it was Regina. He always replied, “Of course I know it’s Regina.”

One particular conversation that I will never forget happened before the pandemic. It was after my grandmother passed away. When I asked how he was doing, he told me that every day that God allowed him to wake up and put his feet on the floor was a good day.  During these difficult times, I try to remember to be as grateful as he was.

I am forever grateful for the lessons that he taught me and the memories that we shared.  I wish that my dreams could come true and he was still here. I miss him every day and I am sad that he will not be able to meet his next great grandson. However, I know he is in Heaven with my grandmother looking down at me.

Grieving during a pandemic is especially tough. Talking about that loss with children can be difficult, too. Read Misty’s post on Discussing the Death of a Loved One or Pet With Children for some ideas how to approach tough conversations. Click here for some additional resources on how to deal with grief.

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