My grandmother died very recently, when I was 28 weeks pregnant.
When I had first told her I was pregnant, my grandmother talked about how excited she was to hold the baby and to be a great-grandmother. As she became ill, she started to give me advice on how to care for the baby and myself. In her very final days, her advice became simpler. Be careful. Be patient. Just love. In this subtle way, we developed a shared understanding that she would never meet my baby.
A family death is never easy to deal with, but being pregnant while losing a family member adds a surreal weight to all that loss entails. While we sat around her bed, my family would alternate between placing their hands on my grandmother’s forehead or knees, and placing them on my belly, making this human chain between our oldest and youngest family members. In the midst of my own grief, I felt like a living talisman for the people sharing my loss.
I am sorry that my grandmother will not meet my baby. But I am grateful that she knew another generation was on its way. I’m grateful that she could feel the baby move, even if she never got to hold it. And I’m grateful that despite all of the helplessness that accompanied losing our matriarch, I had the privilege of being a reminder of our hopeful and happy future to my family.
Erin Bowling holds a Masters in Folklore, blogs casually, and can bake a wicked batch of cookies.
The views expressed in this guest blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization.