A Celebration of Life

By: Nikki Grayson

Colorful flowers float down the river as we say our goodbyes to my Grandpa Dave at his farm. It’s a cold day in November, family and friends have gathered together to celebrate the life he lived. A few short months before he died, he told me where he wanted his ashes spread and now the soldiers line up to do the 21 gun salute for his service. They hand Grandma the perfect folded up flag, and we proceed to spread his ashes across his favorite place on the farm. It is a solemn place where he would sit and watch his favorite birds, which were woodpeckers.

We celebrated the life he lived, the time we had with him, and the memories we cherished and would hold close. He wanted this, he didn’t want us sad and crying, and he requested we celebrate his life instead. We had food, desserts, wrote down our favorite times we had with him, and listened to his friends as they sat around in a circle and played harmonicas. Yes, it was still sad and we missed him more than anything, but we were able to smile and laugh as we came together and reminisced.

Death is so difficult, even when we know we only have a few short months left with a person due to sickness or health reasons.

It becomes even more challenging when its sudden, and we can’t seem to come to terms with why.

We have so many questions and so very few answers. We are in shock, denial, and may even feel numb to the fact they are gone. Grandpa was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, and we knew he didn’t have a lot of time left. We spent most weekends with him always preparing ourselves that this could be the last time we would see him.

We had no idea that a few short years later, my grandma, who seemed to be in excellent shape, would suddenly pass away from an aortic dissection of her heart. We weren’t able to prepare for this sudden passing of a loved one, and we were left in shock. We knew what she wanted though: a celebration just as we had celebrated Grandpa’s life. Grandma loved big gatherings and didn’t know a stranger!

Five years from when Grandpa passed, friends and family gathered together again at the farm. We spread Grandma’s ashes in the same place we had spread Grandpas and had a small service for her by the tree we had planted for Great Papa after he had passed. Our family made food and desserts, and we again laughed over memories and times we had shared with her.

She would have loved to have been there! It almost felt as if she was there floating around as normal talking to every single person.

I lost my baby boy after 16 weeks of pregnancy, and I knew I wanted to do something for him.

Although he was taken way too soon, we held him in our arms and made our own memories with him in that short time we had. We have precious memories while I carried him for sixteen weeks. We had multiple ultrasounds because this was a high risk pregnancy. We were able to see his heartbeat and watch him move around while the ultrasound technologist tried to get us good pictures… when he would stay still!! Since we did IVF, we have a picture of him when he was just a small embryo, before we knew if I would become pregnant.

In two weeks, we will gather together with friends and family and celebrate baby Hunter’s short life.

We still have memories we can talk and laugh about. Pregnancy symptoms, finding out he was a boy at only thirteen weeks, and that he was already 8 ½ inches long at delivery! I can still share these precious moments with others. We are going to have chili, cake, and have a balloon release just for our sweet baby.

Everyone has unique traditions for when someone they love passes. There is no right or wrong ceremony, and we all deal with death in our own way. We grieve differently and we want to do what our loved one would have wanted.

We can continue to carry on these traditions for our babies also, no matter how far along we might have been or how old our babies are.

Remember and cherish all the memories you had with him or her during the time you had with them, whether in the womb or not.

About Nikki Grayson
I am a mom to 5 babies lost through miscarriages, the most recent one being my son at 16 weeks pregnant. I am a nurse, and I live with my husband and two dogs. We love to take walks, ride four wheelers, and do anything that involves being outdoors! I want others that are walking this journey of infertility and pregnancy loss to know they are not alone.

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