What Tucker Taught Me - By: Stephanie Eddleman (Gran)
What Tucker Taught Me
No one ever expects to lose a grandchild. In fact, most people don’t even entertain the
possibility. Things like that don’t happen to people like us. Until they do.
At first, it wasn’t real. I was on autopilot, trying to help out with everything that needed to be done. Trying to take some of the burden off my son and his wife. Trying to be there for my spouse, my other children, the precious grandchildren that I have left.
The grief would periodically break through the busy-ness, and I’d want to scream, to throw up, to fall down. Maybe all three at once. I wondered how I was supposed to feel, to act, as if there were a “right” way to grieve this great loss.
I’ve had other losses in life, but this was the first one that couldn’t be “fixed.” If you lose a job, you can always get another one. If you lose money, you can always make more. If you have a major illness, there’s always the hope of recovery. Even broken relationships have the possibility of being mended. But I could never be good enough, work hard enough, beg or pray enough, love enough, or do anything enough to bring that sweet little boy back. How do you live with that? How do you live the rest of your life with that?
For me, the answer is surrender. I have to face the truth that I will never hold that precious body close to me again, never hear his beautiful laugh. I have to live with the fact that I won’t get to watch him grow, to know what he looks like as a teenager or who he becomes as a young man. I have to acknowledge that every time we get together for a holiday or family event, he won’t be there. I have to bear my child’s pain, knowing I can do absolutely nothing to make it go away. I have to allow the grief and sadness and pain to be there, heavy, in my mind and body and spirit. I have to let the tears come and stay as long and be as ugly as they want. I have to let myself feel it all without pushing anything away. I have to release all ideas of how I “should” feel or of what the “correct” expression of grief looks like. When I fully surrender, then surrounding all that grief, a peace is born. It’s the peace that passeth all understanding, a peace that doesn’t resolve the grief but somehow makes it bearable.
Surrendering to the grief, however, is not enough. I must also surrender to joy. Just to live is such a great blessing, and I must acknowledge all that is wonderful in my life—my dear husband, children I’m so proud of, grandchildren who surprise and delight me every time I’m with them. Extended family. Friends. My unfolding spiritual journey, my home, my job, my yoga class. Books and more books. This beautiful world. There is much that gives me joy, and I choose to be grateful for Tucker and his short life. His life gave me joy. Memories of him give me joy. Tucker himself was an exuberant expression of joy. The joy of being his Gran, even for the too-short time he was with us, is worth the grief I now feel at his loss.
Surrender to grief and to joy. It’s not a lesson I’d wish on anyone else, but this is the lesson Tucker has taught me. It’s helping me live a more peaceful, authentic life, and I’m thankful for it.
By: Stephanie Eddleman (Gran)