Saying goodbye to anyone can be hard enough, especially if they are someone you care about or have a connection with. But to say goodbye to a family member who has passed away before their time, can be one of the most difficult times to bare especially for those that are left.
You go through the motions of the funeral, and clearing their effects and the mountains of paperwork, but then what? How do you go back to where you were before? Well the answer I have discovered is that you don't. Even if you don't think so, you have changed, this death has changed you, and you now forge a new path with this added weight
You have to learn a new way to live. The only way to really move on from something like this is by saying goodbye. Whether it is on the anniversary of the death or something important you had together, you have to learn to be at peace with this in your life.
I lost my brother last year to cancer. He was 48 years old. I am 2 years older than him and we grew up very close. We were raised during an era of large families and there were two more siblings after us. Back in the day of unlocked doors and kids playing in the streets and the only thing you had to remember was to be back when the street lights came on.
My parents would send me out to play and tell me to "take your brother" and I would grudgingly, but I would meet up with other kids who had to bring their younger siblings out to play and we would just all end up playing together anyways.
We grew up, and I moved away, he stayed in our home town. He was always showing up unexpectedly as a surprise and my kids loved him for it. But not once did I ever think I would be saying goodbye to "uncle Dave" nor did my kids. But last year he got sick and six weeks later he was gone.
My sister stayed with him in those last days, taking care of her big brother, and we all helped when we could. But there was one thing he asked us to do, and that was to put his ashes up north where he fished with our dad before, around Georgian Bay. We thought he was nuts, how were we going to do that. My dad had a little niche in a wall for his ashes at the local cemetery, but he wanted no part of this sombre occasion. He wanted to go somewhere nice. He also made us promise not to leave him on a mantle piece somewhere.
My mother was not happy with this idea, she wanted a place to go and see his name in print. But that was not his wish. She also hated getting rid of his apartment, as she felt it slowly erased any sign of his presence, and felt like we were intruding while giving away and packing up his things. But these are just things, not him. He doesn't live there anymore.
So, after everything was done, my sister found a great cottage in the area he was talking about and we all discussed it and she rented it. We came up here, and although sad, it was a really nice place. We found a great rock near the rugged shoreline and felt it would never be disturbed and we put his ashes there. But instead of feeling sad we felt at peace.
It was just us family and we all remained quiet in our thoughts of David. Saying goodbye as we put his ashes under the rock was difficult, but we felt good for doing what his last request was.
Now another year has gone by, and my sister rented the cottage again for the exact same week, and we came up here feeling at peace and this year we are able to talk about fun times with him, and just finally feel strong enough to laugh and joke and remember good times.
We don't need "things" to remind us of David, but just our memories, as we all gathered around his "rock" knowing we can come here whenever we want. I had a dream the week after we put his ashes here, and in the dream he was 17 years old, with all his copper red hair and his favourite levis jacket and he is sitting on his rock looking out over Georgian Bay, and he is nodding in approval and saying goodbye. I woke up suddenly, and realized we had done the right thing and I felt better for it.
Now on this anniversary, we all looked at each other and realized that by saying goodbye we were not letting go of him forever but putting him somewhere in our hearts for good.