Taking the Time to Mourn

Note: this post was written soon after I received news of the death of my cousin Nate that was not public yet. It was delayed a day in publishing to respect that some hadn’t heard this news. When condolences and eulogies showed up on Facebook, I figured anyone who was family must know already. I deeply apologize if this is the bringer of bad news to anyone who knew either Craig or Nate. 

2014 started in a big way for me- I moved to Washington, DC. I have been in love with this city for a really long time…

{photo: two women pose playfully in front of the Capitol Building of the United States}

A dear friend and I in front of the Capitol Building, circa 2011. {photo: two women pose playfully in front of the Capitol Building of the United States}

but moving 400 miles away is a major step.

Unfortunately, the biggest thing to happen to me in 2014 so far have had nothing to do with my move to DC at all.

On January 2nd, my cousin Craig from my dad’s side passed away at the age of 32 after a three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. I traveled to North Carolina to pay my respects and say goodbye last week, and met my family there. It’s a beautiful coincidence that his service was held on The Epiphany. Craig brought so many gifts to the world.  I was just in North Carolina for about 24 hours, and while I got to spend some valuable time with family, I didn’t get to process much until I got home to DC.

This Sunday at church, there was a moment for us to say the name of someone in our thoughts in prayers, and I said Craig’s and broke down crying. Luckily, I had my partner and a good friend on either side of me to comfort me as we heard our sermon on living deliberately– absolutely worth a listen. Rev. Hardies talked a lot about Walden Pond and even mentioned the commuter rail line that took me to my job in Boston, making me feel comfort in my family back in Massachusetts. Craig lived very deliberately- he deeply enjoyed life and believed in the worth of every person. Reflecting on Craig’s passing reminded me to take the time to appreciate those close to me and that life is short and is meant to be enjoyed.

This morning, I got a teary phone call from my mother. Another first cousin (this one, from my mom’s side) passed away in a car accident. Nate was 26- the closest cousin in age to me. Nate also lived deliberately- he was the kind of family member that would love you no matter what, and we shared a lot with each other. Every Christmas in adulthood we found time for a private “what’s really going on with you?” chat. On more than one occasion, he told me that he thought of my more like a little sister than a cousin.

Like Craig, I am sure many stories and memories about Nate will be coming back over the next few days. My partner and I are spending the day listening to music- a special mix of soothing and jazz funeral songs that Unitarian Universalists who met in New Orleans could concoct.

{video: Kerwin James’ jazz funeral in New Orleans, 2007.}

Tomorrow morning (or late tonight? 3 AM is a weird time for millennials) we’ll be taking the train to Boston to say goodbye and pay our respects. Right now, we are taking a break from packing and burning two votive candles- one for each of my cousins. I may try to go to the Grotto, my favorite prayer spot in Lowell this week, or find another meditative spot. I’m sure other grief coping skills will be in play over the next few days.

Saying goodbye is important. Funerals are for the living- they help us cope with our loss, reflect on the lessons of those who have passed, and let our minds process. I happened to find this video posted on someone’s Facebook today, and it’s been tremendously helpful.

{video: a reading of a poem called “Instructions for a Bad Day” by Shane Koyczan}

You may not hear from me over the next few days, but know I will be thinking deeply about these lives in my family cut tragically short and how they would want me to move on from here.



2 thoughts on “Taking the Time to Mourn

  1. Phan says:

    I know no matter what I say I cannot take your pain away. I know how it feel to lose somebody close and dear to you. If there is something I can do, please let me know, I’m all ears. Be strong and take care of yourself. ::hugs::

    P.S. You are such an amazing writer! Keep it up!

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