Statue of a sweet, childish angel holding a dove. Grieving

Bendición, Abuela (Blessings, Grandma)

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Grief is so human but can be so frightening. Love and grief are inspiring Ashley to share the lessons she learned from her grandmother’s example.

My grandmother was an angel on Earth. She was the kindest person I know. She loved me unconditionally and supported me in any way she could. She cooked meals for me. She let me live with her briefly when I took my first “adult” job in her town. She gave me money for gas without me having to ask. She made the best Limber de Coco. She never once made me feel less than for not knowing fluent Spanish. On September 17th, she transitioned from this world.

A legacy of love

In Hispanic and Latine cultures, the matriarch of the family reigns supreme. The abuelas (grandmothers) are the glue that brings everyone, tios (uncles), tias (aunts), y primos (and cousins) together. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, my family took shifts in grandma’s small two-bedroom apartment for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We picked up plates of food and piles of wrapped presents that seemed neverending. No matter how quickly we outgrew the physical space of the cozy living area, grandma’s heart held more than enough space for us all.

When entering or leaving my grandmother’s home, I would always greet her by saying, “Bendición.” There is no all-encompassing translation to explain what “Bendición” means culturally, but it literally translates to “Blessing.” In response, my grandmother would say “Que Dios te bendiga.” This phrase translates to “God bless you.” Coming or going, my grandmother would always be sure to bless me and my travels.

Grief and acceptance

There are five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This cycle is not linear. Although you may progress from one stage to the next, from denial to anger to bargaining, you’re just as likely to find yourself going backward or skipping stages altogether. So you may shift from bargaining back to denial to depression. 

Although it may be intuitive to assume I would start in denial in my own process, I must admit I am starting in acceptance. My grandmother endured so much pain late in her life due to surgical complications that I decided I would pray for good health and longevity for her. My prayers were answered in that my grandmother was given a peaceful and painless transition. In her last moments, she was surrounded by the very same people she brought together throughout her lifetime: her family.

Thank you, Grandma, for the meals and birthday wishes. Thank you for the Christmas gifts and holiday celebrations. Thank you for the gas money and the place to live when I was barely using any gas at all. Thank you for the hugs and kisses. Thank you for the love and support you’ve given me for all my years. Thank you for accepting me, flaws and all. Thank you for your prayers and blessings each and every time we spoke to one another. It is with her prayers and her blessings that I will move forward through my grief with her kindness in my heart and her blessings in my spirit because my angel on Earth is now my angel in heaven. 

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Ashley is a licensed social worker who is passionate about eliminating the stigma of mental health in black and brown communities. She graduated from Seton Hall University and went on to complete her MSW at Columbia University. Ashley loves baseball, beaches, books, and breakfast foods.

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